Bizarre Foods host and F&W contributing editor Andrew Zimmern discovered mind-blowing Filipino chicken near San Diego.
© Ethan Hill
National City, CA: Tita’s Kitchenette
“Food from the Philippines has not caught on in the US with the same fervor as other South Asian cuisines. But it’s starting to, thanks to large expat communities in towns like National City, just outside San Diego. It’s home to Tita’s Kitchenette, a point-and-order cafeteria owned by the same family for 20-plus years. At any one time there are two dozen dishes available. You meander down the line, tray in hand. Remember back in grade school? Here, the lunch ladies are Filipino grandmas, and everything they cook is exquisite—the sweet potato-shrimp fritters are as good as any I have ever tasted outside of the Philippines. But the grilled meats are the best. Golf ball-size nubbins of chicken and pork are marinated in a soy-lemon-pineapple bath, then grilled in small batches so that nothing sits for longer than a few minutes. They’re ethereal: treacly and tart, tangy and smoky. Tita’s opens at 6 a.m., and lunch is available early for people who need to grab something on their way to work.” 2720 E. Plaza Blvd. Ste. E; 619-472-5801.