Oakland is home to a vibrant food scene, with residential neighborhoods and downtown teeming with a diverse selection of restaurants, food trucks, and cafés. But Filipino cuisine has historically been overlooked in the town: The nearest Seafood City, the go-to supermarket for many Filipino Americans, is in Hayward, and unlike major cities like Los Angeles and Seattle, there is no “Filipinotown” in Oakland (though San Francisco has a “Manilatown”).

But Oakland does boast a handful of popular Filipino eateries, and we visited several of them this past week to see what’s on the menu. Whether you’re craving authentic, homegrown dishes or itching for some variation on the classics, these three spots can satisfy your urge or introduce the unfamiliar patron to some new flavors. 

Lucky Three Seven

Mark Legaspi. co-owner of Lucky Three Seven, inside the restaurant on Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland on Aug 10, 2023. Credit: Amir Aziz

Located in the Fruitvale district, Lucky Three Seven is Oakland’s first brick-and-mortar Filipino eatery. Co-founded in late May 2013 by two cousins — Mark Legaspi and Artgel “Jun” Anabo — and their Auntie Cielito, the business bloomed as a manifestation of their family’s long-standing desire to open a Filipino restaurant. According to Legaspi, his family ran a catering business for several years in Oakland before Lucky Three Seven came to fruition.

Lucky Three Seven, 2868 Fruitvale Ave. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed on Monday. Good to know: Accepts Zelle, Venmo, and cash only. Credit/debit cards are not accepted.

“Food is in my blood,” he said.

The local gem is famous for its crunchy “G-Fire” wings, which are an adaptation of Legaspi’s grandmother’s recipe (the name is short for “Grandma’s fire wings”). Other popular dishes include G-Fire barbecue beef short ribs, “XL” chicken and pork lumpia, and pork adobo.

Legaspi said he’s proud to have established the “O.G.” Filipino eatery in the town and credits all of his recipes (except for the G-fire wings and ribs) to his Auntie Cielito.

“We serve genuine, straight Filipino food that’s colorful, dark, and packing flavor. That’s why we’re always having heart attacks,” he joked.

G Fire BBQ short ribs, a menu item at the Lucky Three Seven. Credit: Amir Aziz

Lucky Three Seven is hard to miss: From the counter to the sidewalk seats, the exterior is abundant with crimson red, royal blue, and golden yellow—the colors on the flag of the Philippines. Even the kitchen is vibrant, with portraits of Legaspi’s family lining the counter and graffitied walls depicting hallmarks of the East Bay: an AC Transit bus, a BART train, and the Bay Bridge.

The East Oakland eatery made national headlines in May 2022 when co-owner Anabo was shot and killed outside of the restaurant. He was 39.

Despite losing his cousin, Legaspi said he refuses to let crime stop him from serving the community. Beyond owning Lucky Three Seven, Legaspi is known locally for hosting neighborhood block parties and holiday food drives. For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution that recognized Legaspi for his leadership, service, and commitment to the city.

“Everybody’s always talking about the bad stuff in Oakland, but I’m here to take people away from that. I’m here for Oakland,” Legaspi said.


Tipunan owners JoJo Cansino and Kai Torres-Cansino pose for a photo where they prepare food at Oakland Food Hall, a local ghost kitchen for restaurants in Oakland, Calif. on Aug 10, 2023. Credit: Amir Aziz

While many businesses were shuttering at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, partners JoJo Cansino and Kai Torres-Cansino had an idea to start their own business. Together, they informally opened Tipunan in 2020 behind Philomena Pizza on East 18th Street. As the front-end manager, Cansino interacted daily with customers picking up their online orders, and handed off food to delivery service workers. His wife, Torres-Cansino, and another employee cooked in the small kitchen space they rented.

Tipunan, 2353 E 12th St. Open Monday through Friday, 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Saturday, 11:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Closed on Sunday. Good to know: Tipunan is not a sit-down restaurant; customers must order online for pick-up or delivery.

After a year and a half working in Oakland’s Clinton neighborhood, the couple decided in August 2022 to move Tipunan to Oakland Food Hall, right next to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in the East Peralta neighborhood. They’ve been there ever since.

Born and raised in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Torres-Cansino has an extensive background in food service. Back home in the Philippines, her family owned a restaurant, and when she moved to the U.S., she worked in the cafés at corporate offices such as Twitch and Blue Shield of California.

Meanwhile, Cansino has roots in the northern Philippine province of Nueva Vizcaya. Upon arriving in the U.S., he became a self-made entrepreneur, owning a bar, clothing store, and moving truck company in Oakland prior to launching Tipunan.

Turon (a Filipino egg roll) at Tipunan. Credit: Amir Aziz

“I have an eye for good business ideas,” Cansino said. “So when I would come home from work and my wife would cook delicious food, I thought, ‘We can turn this into a business.’”

Initially, Torres-Cansino was hesitant. She didn’t feel confident that her cooking was restaurant-worthy. But as Cansino continued to encourage her, she took the plunge and became the executive chef of Tipunan.

“It was scary because it was our first time owning a restaurant together, but we learned as we went,” said Torres-Cansino.

Tipunan’s most popular dishes include pork sinigang (a sour and savory stew), kare-kare (oxtail in a thick peanut sauce), turon (lumpia with banana and jackfruit), and lechon kawali (crispy fried pork belly).

Part of what makes Tipunan so unique is that all the food is made to order, so expect to wait a while for soups and stews.

“Our most common complaint from customers is that our food takes a long time to cook, but when they actually eat the food, they’re no longer complaining,” Cansino said.

In the long term, Cansino and Torres-Cansino see themselves expanding Tipunan by opening locations in other Bay Area cities. But for now, they’re grateful to have their current location, which they say has had consistent patrons—some even ordering at least twice per week.

“One of the highest compliments we get from customers is when they say, ‘Your food reminds me of my lola’s (grandmother’s) cooking,’ or, ‘Your food brings me back home to the Philippines,’” said Torres-Cansino. “We want to represent Filipino comfort food the way it really is.”

Cansino dedicates all his efforts at Tipunan to Corazon M. Espino, his grandmother and the first female governor of Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.

“I know everything I know because of her,” he added.

Señor Sisig

The inside of Señor Sisig’s Oakland location with a mural painted by Aaron Kai. Credit: Amir Aziz

If you’ve been to a festival or another large community event in the Bay Area, chances are you’ve already seen a Señor Sisig food truck.

Señor Sisig, 330 17th St. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Good to know: Señor Sisig is entirely cashless. Credit/debit cards, Apple Pay, and Android Pay are accepted.

Co-founded by high school friends Gil Payumo and Evan Kidera, the Filipino-Mexican fusion eatery was established in 2010 as a food truck operation in Daly City. After opening a Señor Sisig restaurant on San Francisco’s Valencia Street in 2019, the pair opened their first Oakland restaurant-cantina at the end of April 2023.

“What makes this location so different from the rest is the cantina,” said Shane Curran, the general manager of the Oakland restaurant. “We wanted to be creative with a street culture-meets-Bay Area-meets-eccentricity vibe.”

The Señor Sisig cantina serves an assortment of beer sourced from East Bay breweries as well as distinctive Mexican-Filipino cocktails, like ube Hennchata, which blends their signature ube horchata with Hennessy, and ube colada, a Filipino variation of the classic piña colada.

A burrito from Señor Sisig in Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

According to Curran, the eatery’s most-ordered dish is the Señor Sisig burrito, which is packed with adobo garlic rice, pinto beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, a creamy cilantro sauce, and the customer’s protein of choice (pork, chicken, tocino, tofu, combination, or no meat).

Other fan favorites include the California sisig burrito (contains french fries, sour cream, and guacamole) and the Oakland-exclusive, build-your-own lechon kawali taco plate, which comes with crispy fried pork belly, shrimp-flavored chicharron (deep-fried pork rind), tortillas, and a variety of salsas.

The Oakland location is also working on a rental space program that allows customers to book the restaurant for special events of up to 30 guests. Curran said he hopes to roll out the program within the next week or two.

“We want this restaurant to not only be more accessible to the Bay Area’s huge Filipino and Mexican population but to also be a community space as well,” added Curran.

Note: This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list, and there are Oakland-based Filipino eateries not included, including FOB Kitchen, which could not provide an interview before our deadline. The Lumpia Company is another local spot that’s currently in the process of moving locations and did not respond to our request for an interview.

Roselyn Romero covers small businesses for The Oaklandside as a 2023-24 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow. Previously, she was an investigative intern at NBC Bay Area and the inaugural intern for...