Insider’s Guide

Best of International Houston: Philippines

All-you-can-eat buffets, Houston’s biggest dance phenoms and, of course, karaoke

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen September 1, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Best of Filipiniana Too

Population in Houston: 34,000 (the 13th largest Filipino population in the country)

“You will often find a karaoke mic lying around in most Filipino restaurants, like Best of Filipiniana. After hours they're known to dim the lights, turn on a disco ball or party lights (that are up year-round) and have an instant karaoke party. My Dad sells karaoke machines and it is central to our family celebrations.” –Tina Zulu, founder, Zulu Creative

Best of Filipiniana Too

4051 FM 1960 West, 281-895-6666, 

This buffet restaurant—no connection to Best of Filipiniana, which is also good—is perfect for sampling a wide swath of Pinoy classics like chicken adobo, beef sinigang sour soup, lumpia (fried spring rolls), pansit noodles and pork kare kare, a stew thickened and sweetened with peanut butter. The buffet at Best of Filipiniana Too is freshest in the early lunch hours, and expect the best variety of food, not to mention karaoke singers, on weekends.


Multiple locations,

It’s possible to find Filipino food at stores like Fiesta and H-Mart, but the selections are slimmer than at any of Filtex’s three locations. Aisles are crammed with sunflower crackers, Malunggay herbal teas, tropical juices, Filipino-style packaged noodles, dried fruit, chips and other snacks from familiar brands like Jack n Jill and Goldilocks. 

Flip 'n Patties

This food truck serves a tasty fusion version of Filipino street food, including its famous burgers on siopao buns, plus salty-sweet chicken pupu, barbecue skewers and some of Houston’s most irresistible fries, topped with spicy mayonnaise and grilled beef.

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An Aloha burger and fries at Jollibee


8001 South Main St., 713-665-8914,

How much do Filipinos love Jollibee? When this native fast food chain opened its Houston location in the Texas Medical Center in 2013, more than 5,000 people lined up on opening day for its beloved fried chicken, spaghetti and halo-halo dessert, breaking the company’s previous record for first-day queues by 25 percent. 

Pugon de Manila

8017 South Main St., 713-664-7227,

Pugon is the rare Filipino restaurant that offers table service rather than a buffet. Pop in to Pugon for bacon-style cured chicken or pork at breakfast, choose from 40 preparations of meats and seafood at lunch or dinner—the pork adobo and menudo are always on point—or zip over to the bakery for supremely good siopao, pastries and cake rolls. 

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Snacks for sale at Pugon de Manila

Red Ribbon Bakeshop

8001 South Main St., 713-218-8500, 

Jollibee’s dessert-focused sister concept opened last year, serving up its famous butter mamon sponge cakes, pan de sal rolls and all sorts of treats featuring mango and ube (purple yam). Although Red Ribbon Bakeshop is a chain, that doesn't stop its stocked shelves and cases of warm empanadas from being any less charming.

SoReal Performing Arts Centre

14520 Memorial Dr. #59, 281-741-8613, 

If you missed the Filipino-led SoReal Cru when they placed second on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, you missed Houston’s biggest dance phenomenon since Patrick Swayze. SoReal’s studio offers hip hop dance classes and hosts big-name choreographers, in addition to functioning as the home base for SoReal Cru and two other award-winning dance teams.

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