October is loved for being the first full month of fall, pumpkin patch trips, and Halloween. But did you know, it’s also Filipino American History Month (FAHM) celebrating when Filipinos first arrived in America more than 400 years ago? Over the past few centuries, Filipino culture has influenced many parts of American culture— including our food. Because for Filipinos, food is a love language. Prominent flavors come from Spanish conquistadors and Chinese traders who first settled on the islands creating unique flavor combinations and food for the soul. In honor of FAHM, here are five spots in Cincinnati where you can experience some Filipino inspiration for yourself.
While technically a “Japanese joint”, Mochiko has definitely been inspired by co-owner and James Beard nominated chef Elaine Uykimpang Bentz’s Filipino heritage. The bestseller is an ube hayala croissant, Elaine’s favorite item is the sweet corn bibingka, and for this month only to celebrate FAHM, she’s making carioca coconut mochi donuts, inspired by the Filipino fried sweet rice street food, carioca. The café was also recently featured on Food & Wine magazine Restaurant Editor Khushbu Shah’s list of best bites of 2022 for its Cincinnati Chili Ramen.
1524 Madison Rd., East Walnut Hills, (513) 559-1000
Located on the West Side and proud of it, Christine’s has an extensive menu that mirrors Pinay owner Christine McDay’s journey to her “American dream” over the past 21 years. She’s worked with Mexican cuisine and American comfort foods, so now she features both alongside traditional Filipino dishes in her own restaurant.
3360 Westbourne Dr., Green Township, (513) 574-1273
Lola (“grandma” in Tagalog, PH’s official language alongside English) Francis Knipp opened Francis International in 1987. It’s now grown into a full-on family operation staffed by her husband of 51 years, children, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. They source from around the world, including her homeland of the Philippines.
4414 Colerain Ave., Colerain Twp., (513) 681-9253
Sebastian Bakehouse’s October menu is mainly fall themed, but with Filipino-American and James Beard winning pastry chef Randy Sebastian as owner, you’ll often find Pinoy flavors on its rotating menu. And while its brick and mortar is only a few months old, Sebastian says it’s only the beginning of what they have in store.
6846 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, (513) 407-3930
Bonus Spot Coming Soon – Bonifacio: Modern Filipino
Recently named one of Food & Wine‘s “Best Places to Eat Filipino Food in America,” Columbus’ Filipina-American restauranteur Krizzia Yanga has brought a lot to the table—and now she’s bringing it to Cincinnati! Her next move for Bonifacio is into Norwood’s Gatherall Food Hall at Factory 52. The opening date is TBD, but we’ll be kind-of-patiently waiting.
Coming soon to 2750 Park Ave., Norwood