An All-Day Filipino Restaurant Is Coming to Jefferson Park

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Chicago’s Northwest Side Filipino community is robust and isn’t about to be shut out of the city’s Filipino American restaurant boom. Seafood City isn’t enough. Kathy Vega Hardy is readying to open her first standalone restaurant in early April in Jefferson Park. In August, closed her popular Filipino food stall, A Taste of the Philippines, inside Chicago’s French Market as she prepared to launch an independent operation.

For this particular project at 5914 W. Lawrence Avenue, “independent” isn’t entirely accurate. Vega Hardy is partnering with another Filipino business, Crumbs and Creams, a bakery that’s best known for sylvana, a cookie stuffed with flavored creams. Spouses Katrina and Mharloe Requiron founded their operation after the pandemic began in 2020. They’re splitting the space with Vega Hardy.

Twenty-eight seat A Taste of the Philippines will serve a few desserts, such as their signature ube doughnut and turon (a sweet lumpia with ube drizzle), but the two businesses believe they complement each other with Vega Hardy offering mostly savory items like lumpia and pancit. Without a permanent home, Vega Hardy has been using the space at Schoolhouse Kitchen in Portage Park to cook food for her catering business which also includes pop-up dinners.

Two purple doughnuts with sprinkles.
Ube doughnuts and cheesecake bites.
A Taste of the Philippines

Chicago’s food scene includes prime-time players like Bayan Ko and Boonies Filipino Restaurant, plus a little Michelin-starred success story called Kasama. Mano Modern Cafe opened last year in West Town. Vega Hardy says her food fills a specific niche.

“I wouldn’t call it upscale, but it’s not fast food either,” she says. “I feel I’m in the sweet middle ground.”

Vega Hardy’s story has been well told around Chicago. She’s a Manila native who lived in Denver where she started A Taste of the Philippines as a food truck in 2012. As is the case with many Asian families arriving in America, few recipes are actually written down. Immigrant food in the States often tastes different because of guesswork in reformulating a recipe (there’s also a difference in ingredients that leads to changes). Vega Hardy has worked toward preserving Filipino culture while putting her own spins on items. But, as chefs who cook international cuisines can attest, it’s sometimes exhausting trying to sell food to folks unfamiliar with other people’s cultures. Food can be educational (Vega Hardy also teaches at Schoolhouse Kitchen), but it can be daunting: “I really thought I was the only Filipino person there,” she says of her time in Denver.

When she moved to Chicago, she gained a following selling food at farmer’s markets before opening in the French Market in summer 2020. Even at the market, she sometimes got anxious having to explain her evolving menu to passersby who were strolling through the food hall browsing menu boards.

An egg sandwich on pan de sal and a purple ube drink in a plastic cup.
Egg sandwiches and specialty coffee are served.
A Taste of the Philippines

The commute from the Northwest Side to the West Loop was brutal, especially with construction on the Kennedy Expressway. Vega Hardy won’t have to contend with that headache as she’s a Jefferson Park resident. She’ll also have more room to be creative and productive (on an average day of lumpia making she can roll about 150; the number will now increase at the restaurant). Vega Hardy touts a vegetarian adobo made with local vendor Four Star Mushrooms. Now, fans of that Kasama operation might be familiar with their dish which was featured in some cookbook and also in a Chicago-based TV show called The Bear. Adobo can be a personal thing that varies depending on family preferences. Vega Hardy’s is a little bit more saucy. She talks about how the gravy properly coats the rice.

A Taste of the Philippines will also serve breakfast with silog, sandwiches, and more. Longanisa — which will be used in a Scotch egg — will be made on premises. Imagine pan de sal with a fried egg and havarti cheese. The full espresso bar will have fun drinks with coffee from Veloria Coffee, another Filipino American business.

Check back for more updates in the coming weeks.

A Taste of the Philippines, 5914 W. Lawrence Avenue, opening in early April.


1001 North Winchester Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 697-3790 Visit Website

Seafood City

5033 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60630 (773) 295-1658

Bayan Ko

1810 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 698-6373 Visit Website

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