by Valerie Moloney - 331 Reviews - 96 List
Forget the ubiquitous Chinese egg rolls and try something different, the Filipino lumpia. As deep-fried appetizers go, the mini cigar-shaped, ground pork-stuffed rolls are about as addictive as they come. Buy them in bulk or enjoy them as starters at these five Filipino restaurants and grocers around Chicago. Trust us. You won't be able to eat just one.
Updated: April 22, 2009
If there is such a thing as a Filipino karaoke dive bar, this would be it. After belting out your renditions of Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me," reward yourself with a plate of Lumpia Shanghai, deep-fried to a golden brown; then wash them all down with a bottle of San Miguel. Now you're a real pinoy.
Like Uni-Mart, this cafeteria-cum-grocer has a huge following among Filipino nationals. The mom-and-pop cantina sticks to a limited menu that could change daily. With notice, owners will whip up some fresh lumpia, a healthy lettuce wrap packed with shrimp, beansprouts and carrots served with a side of oyster or soy vinegar sauce.
For a twist on traditional appetizers and swift cleanup, order 100 of these badboys (just $25) and watch as the guests come back for not one or two more, but 10. This Albany Park restaurant sells them for just $25. Pop the petite meat rolls open, enjoy the crackle in your mouth and wonder where they've been all your life. A platter of these beats a bag of Doritos.
While it's true that Filipino food favors carnivores, vegetarians can still indulge in an eggroll all their own at this strip mall restaurant in Niles. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with carrot slivers, sweet mushrooms and french beans, this meatless version isn't missing any flavor. Just dip it into chili sauce and presto.
There's always a batch of the crispy, flaky, pork-filled pastries in the back of this Andersonville food mart, a cafeteria-style setup of basics like adobo and oxtail stew. If you're new to lumpia, make sure to grab a jar of tangy sweet and sour sauce for dipping. You'll notice that the first-generation Filipinos don't even go back to that section, but only because they prefer to buy their own wrappers (Check the freezer on the left hand side) and stock up on groceries, fresh seafood and vegetables. Warning: Rolling lumpia takes hours, so unless you're willing to get your hands immersed in egg whites for an afternoon, don't even think about it.