A Country for this Old Man


My country, the Philippines, land of gold and flowers, it was love that, as per her fate, offered up beauty and splendor. And with her refinement and beauty, the foreigner was enticed; Bayan Ko – a traditional Filipino song I did not grow up Pinoy. I am, apologies to all Jews and Filipinos, a pin-goy. I am the enticed foreigner, the dayuhan, or stranger, encapsulated in the lyrics of “Bayan Ko”, the patriotic anthem of the Philippines quoted above. I am mesmerized by the majesty of Filipino food.

Tocilog at Kubo


If you want a great hangover cure, look no further than international breakfast foods. Down a French croque madame — a ham and gruyere-stuffed sandwich topped with an egg — after throwing a few back, and you’re golden the next morning. Kill a full Irish breakfast, including black pudding (which is not really pudding, but blood sausage), and you’re also probably going to feel better. And so it goes.

Seafood City


There are a lot more Filipino grandmas in Chicago than I thought. I know this because on a random Thursday afternoon, I was surrounded by dozens of them chowing down on barbecue pork skewers at the new Filipino mega-mart Seafood City located in North Mayfair

Laughing Bird


Have you ever wished you could eat at a place called the Tina Turner Tavern? If things go well for chef Chrissy Camba at new Lincoln Square restaurant Laughing Bird, you might just get your chance. “I grew up in a family where there was a lot of laughing and a lot of birds, so that’s how we got the name. But, the whole time I kept joking that we should name this place the Tina Turner Tavern. We’ll save that for the next one,” said Camba.

Lumpia Shanghai from Isla Pilipina


It’s not so much a restaurant as it is a movement. When Ray Espiritu took over the Lincoln Square restaurant Isla Pilipina from his parents six years ago, it was very traditional, serving mostly expat Filipinos. Fresh out of art school, Espiritu didn’t just want to serve food; he wanted to elevate Filipino cuisine and culture in Chicago. He wanted to help the community and create something that was an extension of his personality. “Any business is a form of art,” he said. “There’s a vibration from our audience. We feed off that and want to serve them well.”