🙂 = Outstanding service!. Like the Filipino people, the place, itself, is small but big on charm and graciousness thanks to their amazing staff.
🙁 = Not necessarily kid un-friendly. Kids are most certainly welcome. They’ll just decrease your chances of getting in right away as there are only two tables (the rest is counter seating). So if they can’t sit upright, stay still on a barstool, or wait patiently in line, leave those suckas at home.
Notes: They’ve recently unveiled their “solo seat” which is the best seat in the house situated right in front of the kitchen. It was designed for solo diners and comes with considerably lessened wait times. Closed Tuesdays.
“Bad Saint is a Filipino restaurant.”
That’s how their homepage begins. The rest is just as succinct.
Walk-ins. No reservations. 2-hour or longer wait times. Address. Hours. Contact info. That’s it. Just plain, white text layered over top of a picture slideshow flaunting their beautifully presented dishes accented with tribal-patterned textiles, a painting of an indigenous Igorot tribesman, and a Virgin Mary prayer card — all inherently Filipino.
There’s no fluff. No filler. And why should there be? They’ve already proven themselves without a shadow of a doubt, single-handedly putting Filipino cuisine on the map.
The #2 Best New Restaurant in the country as per Bon Appetite Magazine. Michelin’s Bib Gourmand honoree — a blessing and a curse; an accomplishment in and of itself, however, disqualifying it from receiving the coveted Michelin star-rating. Even resident WaPo food critic, Tom Sietsema, ever a stalwart for Bad Saint, ripped the industry giant a new pwet-hole for snubbing the upscale carinderia of, at the very least, a one-star rating.
I had been there once — before all the fanfare. When the line maxed out at around 40 people (Now it maxes out at 100+). We had gotten there one hour before opening. Only 8 people stood between us and destiny. Ah, but this night ’twas not to be. For you see, children — more specifically, children not able to sit upright unassisted on a bar stool — are a prospective diner’s black raven. An inescapable source of bad luck. Ours was a 16-pound fowl with unrefined motor skills perched comfortably within his carseat.
So when the parentals recently told me they were going to Bad Saint, the writing on the wall was clear as day for me and my brother of misfortune. I only asked them to promise me a bedtime story upon their return (which they made good on), of all the wonder and merriment I would be missing out on.
It went something like this…
Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom called Bad Saint. It was a tropical Philippine oasis in the heart of DC filled with beauty and grace — and lots of narra wood trinkets. But this was no ordinary kingdom. Not one of kings and queens nor elves and fairies. No. This was a realm governed by food — fantastical dishes come to life. Dishes you know and love turned upside-down and re-imagined.
Like Tocino. Shiny, carmelized, and charred. Sweet and savory. He was a handsome fellow, standing proudly atop a mountain of fragrant garlic rice surrounded by his band of crispy greens and loyal duck egg, whose yolk swaddled the mountain of grain below his feet in delicious yellow velvet.
Suddenly, there emerged a passerby. Ginisang Tulya. What a wonderfully spicy character! Many in the kingdom considered her to be one of it’s more celebrated residents. Littleneck clams still dressed in their shells of armor, adding a nuanced flavor to the creamy vermillion lake of Chinese sausage and Sichuan chile in which she bathed. A raft of “Chinese donuts” lay docked close-by to assist in lowering the lake’s tide.
Finally, Adobong Dilaw made her presence known. She was the more timid cousin of Adobo, the kingdom’s most prominent representative. Jaundiced from the turmeric but rounded in flavor, she possessed a playful tartness amidst her more serious cohorts of roasted cauliflower, squash, and eggplant.
But the night was not yet complete as Champorado made a (complimentary) appearance. Usually, thick and glutinous, he had transformed himself into an upright block of cocoa-infused grains drizzled with evaporated milk and pinipig. A sweet surprise and perfectly welcome cameo!
But then, the monsters who laid in wait outside the kingdom, pangs of hunger reverberating through their empty stomachs, burst through the gates of Bad Saint and ate everything.
The end. Goodnight. Sweet dreams.
“What the heck kind of fairytale ending was that?!”, I exclaimed. “What happened to the kingdom? And where did the monsters go after that?”
“Their ingenuity will always keep them alive.”, they said. “And the monsters? They went home to tuck their little monsters into bed, anxiously awaiting their next childless visit to the glorious kingdom of Bad Saint.”