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Manila Mart, Filipino Market and Lunch Counter off of Route 1 in Beltsville

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I've been meaning to try out Manila Mart since the Tim Carman review in the Post last year, and finally made it there for lunch today. Manila Mart is tucked away in a shopping center just off of Rt 1 a block north of Behnke's, in between the Korean duo of Gah RhaBreakm and Da Rae Won.

Manila Mart is a Filipino market, with a few small aisles of shelf goods, plus a tiny produce section and I think some refrigerated cases along the side. In back, however, is a hot food counter with a small kitchen and a handful of tables for diners. A handwritten sign behind the counter lists the regular menu items and daily specials. The counter includes multiple vats of meats in variously colored sauces, a warming case with several types of cooked fishes and pork, pre-portioned noodle dishes, a pile of bbq skewers, and an array of desserts. About half of the desserts were labeled, the rest of the food was unlabeled, but they were happy to explain what each one was.

I got a pancit bihon - vermicelli rice noodles with a mild flavor topped with chicken and veggies, $5.50 - and a halo halo for dessert, $5. The halo halo has shaved ice with various beans, chunks of colored jellies, flan, and something that may have been rice based, with evaporated milk poured over and a scoop of ube (purple yam) ice cream on top. The other meat dishes (mostly chicken and pork from what I could tell) would probably have been more adventurous choices in terms of flavor - I'll have to try that next time, along with the cassava pie.

They have a facebook page and instagram that note when special dishes are available. It looks like they may also offer Filipino breakfast on Sunday mornings.

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Filipino breakfasts are really good - there's an unknown hideaway in Seven Corners that serves one, too.

Why would you say unknown hideaway for a place that probably wants more business ?

Because I can't remember the name.

Don, your post got me curious so I did some googling.  Are you referring to Fairfax Inn?   Their menu looks interesting.  Have you or anyone else been?

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Don, your post got me curious so I did some googling.  Are you referring to Fairfax Inn?   Their menu looks interesting.  Have you or anyone else been?

Yes, Fairfax Inn - it's got really good, authentic, down-home Filipino breakfasts. Go! This is one of the most underrated places in the DC area, and it's *amazing* that nobody ever talks about it - look at these dishes. If we had a thread, it would be strong Italic in the Dining Guide - don't expect much in the way of atmosphere.

There aren't any restaurant secrets in this area anymore, but this is the exception to that rule.

(Do not hesitate to ask for some banana ketchup with your food. I know that sounds heretical, but banana ketchup is really good, if unabashedly industrial.)

PS - a good introduction dish is Tapsilog (accent on first syllable - TAP-see-log), which is essentially steak and eggs. Damn it, now I'm craving this stuff in a big way.

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Just finished a delicious lunch from Manila Mart.  While I generally dig on Filipino cuisine, my knowledge of the names of dishes is pretty limited (adobo, sisig, pancit), so I'm afraid I held up the line a bit while having the nice lady behind the steam table explain each dish to me (sorry, not sorry).  What I ended up with was a Combo #2 for $7.99 which is rice with a choice of 2 meats.

I initially went for the kare kare (oxtail stewed in a peanut sauce), but that was not included in the combo deal.  No worries, I switched it up to the chicken adobo, which was delicious and mild...a nice place for a newcomer to this cuisine to start.  For the 2nd meat, I went with dinuguan (pork stewed in blood), much to the surprise of the server.  She asked twice if I was sure before ladling the thick, dark stew into a to-go container.  It was a nice dish, actually milder in flavor than even the adobo.  Basically a blood sausage in stew form.  If you fed it to someone and told them it was Filipino mole, they'd eat it up without complaint.

There were some great looking skewers of barbecued chicken and pork that I'll be back to try soon.

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Tried this a couple weeks ago after seeing it in the Wapo cheap eats breakdown and waiting because I was scared.

Everything here is delicious.  I have no idea what I had, other than samples of a ton of stuff and picking the ones I liked best.  

The seating situation is terrible.  We gave frank "get the F out" stares to people who were camping after their meals were long gone, but to no avail.  But that doesn't matter much.  Nor does having the choice of spring rolls being zero or 12+ for some reason--they would make a mint at a buck a pop for singles.

My biggest regret here is that when I went one day last week, probably Monday, it was their day off and they were closed.

But you shouldn't go there.  The line is too long anyway.

PS one of the lunch ladies high fived me when I said everything was great.  Imagine a 6'6 guy and a 5'nothing gal high fiving.  Luckily her vertical leap is better than mine ever was

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