Rain or shine, the line outside Bad Saint starts forming two hours before it opens, when the first 25 diners get seated inside this tiny, no-reservations Filipino hot spot in Columbia Heights. The familial staff extend a warm welcome, while the sound of sizzling meat stimulates the senses. The food is serious, spicy business and includes authentic, family-style dishes such as ginataang puso ng saging (a cold, coconut-milk stew of banana blossom and pepper), kilawin na tambakol (a habanero-spiced tuna ceviche), and inihaw na liempo (lettuce wraps of grilled pork belly). Don’t make any final decisions without hearing the nightly special—and if it’s the sweet-potato-flour fried chicken with chili vinaigrette dripping sauce, order it!
Filipino Hotspot in D.C.
Get to this hot new restaurant early: The line for a table forms as early as 3 p.m. The family-style dishes⎯including ginisang tulya, a spicy, brothy dish with clams and Chinese sausage, and Bad Saint’s take on ukoy with sweet potato and leeks⎯are worth the wait.
Filipino Cuisine has made it to DC!
I may just have found my mom’s Filipino home cooking inside this cozy 25-seat, no-reservation space in Columbia Heights. Facing the open kitchen in DC’s first Filipino restaurant, I watched owner/chef Tom Cunanan serve a mix of traditional Filipino staples such as lumpia, pancit, beef tapa, and ampalaya (bitter melon) as well as less expected, more adventurous dishes like kinilaw (tuna ceviche), grilled tuna jaw with calamansi, fried ukoy (shrimp fritters), and the unforgettable inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly). Wondering about the restaurant’s name? It makes reference to Saint Malo, a former coastal fishing village in Louisiana, which was the first permanent Filipino settlement in what is now the U.S.