These days, it’s not uncommon to see waves of interest in food from historically underappreciated communities—but it’s also not uncommon to see those waves come and go quickly, the cuisine treated as a temporary fad rather than a durable part of the culinary landscape. Atlanta’s not just having a moment with Filipino food, though; it’s undergoing an awakening.
Filipino cuisine has surged in popularity here in the last few years, in part due to the success of Kamayan ATL. But the fame also likely comes from the cuisine’s natural familiarity to the regional palate: The careful use of vinegar, robust tastes of garlic, tomatoes, and potatoes, and an occasional tinge of pepper are all hallmarks of a fare that’s been compared to Southern soul food. Filipino American proprietors have also found room to grow in Atlanta’s thriving pop-up scene.
Hope Webb and Walter Cortado are partners at Grant Park’s small but mighty Estrellita, which opened in 2020 as one of the first full-service Filipino restaurants in Atlanta proper. The menu’s full of treasures: sweet and savory barbecued chicken skewers, brined and deep-fried crispy pork hock, chargrilled short ribs. But it’s been a fight to stay afloat. After reaching out for help through GoFundMe last year, Webb and Cortado have been able to keep the business alive through continued cross-promotion with other Filipino restaurant owners and pop-up chefs, in person and through social media.
All that mutual support is another reason Filipino dining is “having its day in the sun,” Webb says. “There were several friends who lined up and said, ‘Let’s do this,’ and we’ve been relentlessly in people’s feeds, pushing the food.” Here are a few more places to get your fix—all pop-ups, so follow them on Instagram to find out where they’ll be next.
Barbara Hattrich’s creations make ample use of ube—the vibrantly colored yam that gives many Filipino pastries their bright-purple allure. In addition to ube bundt cakes, ube whoopie pies, and ube cookies, Hattrich offers pan de sal dinner rolls, pull-apart bread loaves filled with coco jam swirl, and more. If you can’t wait for the next pop-up, slide into her DMs: $30 minimum order, 48 hours’ notice required.
With catering and pop-ups at Our Bar ATL and other popular hangs, chef Mike Pimentel aims for “humble, modest” eats, from garlic-braised chicken and pork adobo to stir-fried rice noodles and stews.
Seven Fingers Baked Goods
Baker Anthony Fisher first called his pop-up Pare Baked Goods, later renaming it in honor of Filipino American labor organizer Larry “Seven Fingers” Itliong. What hasn’t changed: delectable offerings including ube cheesecake and ensaymada—a sweet, brioche-like pastry topped with buttercream, which Fisher prepares in flavors such as cinnamon-toast and calamansi.
Elna Kolarich, who also owns the Filipino/Asian comfort-food pop-up Sarap Atlanta, is behind this steamed-bun business, which offers Filipino-style buns—called siopao—in flavors like ube pork belly adobo and chicken asado. You can preorder for pickup at a couple of drop points around the city.
Its name a synonym for village or barrio, Gabriel Tungol’s pop-up is known for chef collaborations and supper-club-style events featuring meaty dishes such as coconut-stewed chicken and short rib sinigang, a sour-savory soup.
This article appears in our April 2023 issue.