The rain is starting to pour down hard in downtown DC but there’s already a line forming at 3226 11th St and the restaurant isn’t even open yet. The line grows longer by the minute till it reaches the corner and maybe even past the corner.
This is a typical scene that is in front of Bad Saint almost every night. Bad Saint is a very popular Filipino restaurant in Northwest Washington DC. Since it’s opening in 2015, folks from all over DC and beyond have lined up for hours to get in. The place is walk ins only and does not take reservations. There are only 24 seats inside. Being named on Bon Appetit magazine’s #2 New Restaurant in America, a seat is a most coveted spot for many.
I came to Bad Saint on a windy, rainy day in May. It was an hour before opening. The lady in front of me smiled when I said I was from California and she mentioned I came on a good day because the line wasn’t around the corner YET. I along, with the couple behind me eagerly counted the folks in front of us to see if we would make a cut in the first seating. Whew! It looked like we did but barely.
When 5:30pm hit, it still took a couple of minutes before they let folks in. I suddenly spotted a bunch of folks get out of a car and head towards the restaurant. It turns out they paid someone to stand in line for them. (Yes, you did read that right. I said “paid” and that is how crazy it is that people want to get in here). Despite the big new group, I likely was still able to make it through in the first seating. Thank goodness!
Walking in, the restaurant is dimly lit. Most of the seats consist of stools along counters, and there are only two tables that accommodate parties up to four. When I was given the menu, I was surprised to see the menu was small. It turns out they don’t have a permanent menu but instead a menu that changes constantly. The menu consists of 3 portions: Gulay (vegetables and salads), Isda at Iba Pa (fish and more) and Carne (meat).
Braving the rain I decided to make the most of my visit by trying a variety of their dishes. From the Gulay section, I chose to get Adobong Dilaw. From the Carne section, I chose to get Adobong Puti and Pancit na Hipon.
Before the main orders came out, the folks at Bad Saint, gave complimentary green mangoes and bagoong (shrimp paste).
I thought this starter was a nice way of introducing Filipino food to folks. The pungent and salty fermented shrimp paste along with the sour unripe mango is a very familiar Filipino side dish.
Soon after this, the two adobo dishes came out. Up first was the Adobong Dilaw (yellow adobo).
Dilaw means “yellow” in Tagalog and this indeed was a yellow colored dish thanks to turmeric. Mixed in turmeric sauce was cauliflower and kabocha sauce. It had a curry like flavor to it and was unlike any Filipino dish I have ever tried. It was unique and delicious. This dish was perfect along with their complimentary purple rice. I loved the turmeric sauce all over the rice. Tasting this, I knew already it was worth coming here.
The Adobong Puti (white adobo) was up next to hit the taste buds.
This dish was more of a traditional Filipino tasting dish. It had chicken, pork belly ramps along with cane vinegar. With its savory sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce, adobo truly is a dish that has put the Philippines mark in international cuisine and Bad Saint knows its adobo.
The third course of the night consisted of Pancit Na Hipon (shrimp noodles).
Bad Saint’s Pancit Na Hipon had glass noodles, pork belly and shrimp. I loved the long silky noodles that was mixed in with pork belly and shrimp along with peanuts. It had a bit of spice to it. The spice kick hits your palate instantly but is very delicious.
Last but not least, was dessert. Bad Saint doesn’t have a dessert menu but they do offer a complimentary dessert in the form of fried suman (rice cake).
Their suman reminded of another Filipino dessert, turon (banana egg roll). This treat was a caramélized baked mini plantain with rice.
I was very happy to land a coveted seat inside the small restaurant that rainy night. The dishes at Bad Saint are excellent and it makes my heart truly happy to see a Filipino restaurant doing so well. It’s especially special to see it doing amazing at the nation’s capital. Thanks to Bad Saint for putting Filpino food in the forefront of the food industry. The long lines people see every night (even on rainy days, like the night I went), there truly is a good reason for it. 😉
For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Bad Saint.