You should all know by now that Maharlika is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I’m in awe that they’ve figured out the perfect menu and space to introduce Filipino food in an approachable, non-intimidating way without removing its essence. After growing up eating traditional Filipino food either at home or on styrofoam plates in malls, eating adobo while sipping delicious cocktails and listening to hip hop throwbacks at Maharlika feels like I’m reliving my childhood on mushrooms. It’s a good thing.
I’ve been craving a solid Filipino meal since I returned to New York, so my friend Lauren and I decided to meet at Maharlika for brunch today. You can always expect a crowd at this place, especially considering their constant press – check out Chef Miguel’s feature in last week’s NY Mag. Fortunately, we got my favorite table for two right near the bar. I’m a creature of habit and ordered my childhood favorite with a twist – fried egg over rice with fried milk fish and a side of cucumber salsa. Lauren had the fried chicken and ube waffle, served with a velvety, buttery caramel sauce that I’m pretty sure has crack in it. While sipping mango and kalamansi mimosas we stuffed our faces, dipping our meats in suka (garlicky, flavorful vinegar), patis, and bird chilis to spice things up.
Owner Nicole was nice enough to bring out my favorite dessert here – the ube ice cream, along with a scoop of rich, bright green avocado and a subtly sweet mango ice cream. The coconut pudding, a relatively new addition to the menu, was a textural masterpiece with chunks of mango and crispy coconut.
Honestly, I’ve never left this place disappointed. I just wish it were less than a 30 minute walk from my apartment. West village location next?
Location: 111 First Ave @ 7th Street