Inside Jeepney, a ‘Filipino Gastropub’ From the Owners of Maharlika

Photos: Noah Fecks

Last night the folks behind Maharlika opened Jeepney, just a handful of blocks up from its sister establishment.

Unlike Maharlika, which serves up relatively standard fare, Jeepney is a Filipino “gastropub,” meaning “a place to hang out with friends, get great comfort food, and have a couple of brews,” said co-owner Nicole Ponseca. So what’s comfort food here? Think meatloaf and kamote (a sweet potato common in the Philippines); a Chori burger with the Pinoy sausage, longanisa; and a unique version of the renowned noodle dish, pansit, that includes oysters, shrimp, calamari, pork, and fried pork rinds.

The large, “family-style” dishes, which are meant to be shared, showcase the Filipino flavors of sweet, sour, and especially salty: the Jeprox salad consists of seasonal greens that are tossed in fermented shrimp paste and topped with crispy fish bones. “This dish is salt on salt, but I think people don’t understand that in the Philippines salt is more than a condiment – it’s the star attraction,” Ms. Ponseca said.

You’ll even find saltiness in the drinks: one cocktail infuses beer with the flavor of bitter melon.

The décor is reminiscent of the islands, too. Colorful, numbered tabletops display words that each honor a local dialect. And murals created by Castro, a Filipino artist who also helped design Maharlika’s interior, incorporate “half-naked ladies” like the 1967 Playboy Playmate of the Year. Ms. Ponseca said they are meant to invoke a certain wit. “Filipinos have such a great foundation of values but also a sense of humor about religion, sex and taboos,” she said.

The 50-seat space – previously another Filipino restaurant, Sa Aming Nayon – is expected to get a garden area in the springtime.

Jeepney, 201 First Avenue (between 12th and 13th Streets)