Is any meal really worth waiting outdoors for hours? Talk to the nightly crowd outside this Filipino gem and regulars argue yes. (We agree.) What makes line-standing bearable are two things: the genuinely warm service once you’re placed at one of 24—mostly counter—seats and the fact that chef Tom Cunanan is making some of the best Filipino food in the country. You don’t need to know pata from pancit to be wowed by the oft-changing menu. Start with a sherry cocktail and ceviche-like kinilaw of tender octopus with olives and potatoes, or a stunning salad of shredded coconut and nasturtiums. Daring is rewarded in dishes such as inky squid adobo stew laced with long peppers, but don’t pass over crowd pleasers: Glazed pork tocino with a runny egg and garlicky rice is as comforting as the welcome. Moderate.
Also great: bitter-melon salad; whole fish; palabok (noodles with shrimp, crab, and pork skins).