How far is too far to travel for a slice of pie? Is a slice of pie worth dealing with traffic on the 110, navigating the obscenely small spaces in the Grand Central Market parking lot, waiting in line, and then, once you’ve secured your pie, getting back on the freeway? This is a question we’ve found ourselves wondering since discovering the buko pie at Sari Sari Store. Answer: it’s never too far.
Sari Sari Store is the younger sibling of Republique, the French restaurant that’s on our Greatest Hits List, and our Brunch Greatest Hits List, and has just generally become a member of our (and most likely, your) family. With their La Brea HQ essentially a self-driving car (with a very long waiting list), the husband and wife team are now doing something very different: Filipino food served at a stall in Grand Central Market.
That said, a few things are similar: there’s the same order-at-the-counter setup you get during daytime hours at Republique, the truly excellent desserts, and the same feeling that they really care that you’re enjoying your food. Sari Sari Store and Republique definitely feel related, but in more of a second cousin kind of way.
Besides the coconut-filled pie, Sari Sari serves stuff that will have you counting down the minutes until it’s acceptable to go to lunch. The menu seems pretty simple - there are a bunch of rice bowls with different proteins, all topped with an egg, an arroz caldo (the Filipino rice porridge that’s basically a hug in a bowl), a breakfast sandwich, and desserts. But once you start diving into the food, you realize that the rice is garlicky in one bowl and vinegary in another, the breakfast sandwich is impossible to put down, and everything you’re eating is actually improving your psychological well-being. Which is further improved by the fact that nothing you order will be more than $13.
Unless you have an automatically replenishing swimming pool of money, or feel good about regularly spending weekends in a 50-person long brunch line, you probably don’t get to Republique that often. Sari Sari Store, though, is somewhere you could easily eat at all the time. Just don’t forget to order the pie.
A big bowl of soupy rice porridge with pork, mushrooms, and poached eggs on top. It’s funky (in a good way) and a bit sour, and even better when you add their suka vinegar and sriracha.
The best of the bowls. The ribs on their own are delicious - charred and rich and falling off the bone. But with the rice, pickled vegetables, egg, and added dashes of the suka (garlicky vinegar), they get even better.
Excellent rotisserie chicken, very garlicky rice, an egg on top. We could eat this every day of the week.
Fancy fried rice with super-crunchy pork belly and more of that garlic rice. Not our favorite - mostly because there are other bowls that are better - but gets better when you add the garlicky suka vinegar.
We’re generally fans of most things with charred eggplant, but this just doesn’t do it for us. It’s by far the healthiest bowl here, but unless good-for-you is your main priority, skip it.
We really like the bowls at Sari Sari Store. But we love this breakfast sandwich. And not just because it feeds our childhood addiction to American cheese. The egg is crispy, the sausage patty is slightly spicy, and the bread is perfect.
Like a Filipino version of boba, but better, this involves layers of watermelon ice, flan, fruit, tapioca, and a coconut cream on top, and it’s exactly what we want on a 100-degrees-in-fall day. The trick is to mix the whole thing into a creamy, icy mush before spooning it into your mouth and feeling like you’re five years old again.
Accurately described on the menu as “coconut, coconut, and coconut,” this pie is custardy, with a super flaky crust, and a streusel-like crumb on top. If it’s just out of the oven, they won’t sell you a piece until it’s set. We recommend waiting the two hours for that to happen.