Chef Phillip Esteban’s White Rice Bodega Opens In Normal Heights

Award-winning chef Phillip Esteban’s White Rice Bodega opens Monday, September 19th in Normal Heights, expanding on the already diverse array of food options in the neighboring University Heights, and bringing the first Filipino cuisine to the neighborhood

Coming off the success of the first White Rice, a food stall at Liberty Public Market food hall, this is the concept’s first stand-alone location and adds to Chef Phil’s growing number of outposts in San Diego.

Philip Esteban’s White Rice Bodega Opens In Normal Heights

A corner bodega serving the meals of his childhood

The fast-casual restaurant is designed like a Filipino sari-sari, or corner bodega, with a walk-up order window, an outdoor patio, and a 600-square-foot kitchen inside.

White Rice Bodega features a diverse array of Filipino Silog (rice bowls), house-made provisions like whipped ube butter and atchara, and a rotating selection of Filipino beer and natural wines. Along with Chef Phil’s everyday favorites, the menu will share his vision of the meals of his childhood as told through bold Filipino flavors.

The White Rice menu is based on savory rice bowls or “silog” meaning garlic rice and egg, a popular Filipino everyday go-to meal. White Rice features a diverse array of rice bowls based on traditional Filipino dishes, including Lechon Kawali, or crispy pork belly, Mushroom & Tofu Sisig (V), Pork Sisig, and Esteban’s Filipino take on ceviche called Kinilaw and Longanisa with sweet pork sausage, atchara pickles, up egg and garlic rice with sawsaw.

Sides include the classic Ube Pandesal, a Filipino sweet roll served with Ube cultured butter, and Lumpia Shanghai. The eatery will also serve Filipino drink favorites including Calamansi Iced Tea and Ube Milk Tea, along with Ube Cookies for dessert.

Giving back

In our interview with Chef Phillip Esteban, it became clear that his restaurants are about more than just serving good food for running a profitable business – they are about supporting and contributing to the community.

With his hospitality group, Open Gym, White Rice Bodega continues to follow the 1-for-1 model, as originated with the founding concept during the pandemic as a delivery service, serving those suffering from food insecurity.

The team donates one meal for every meal purchased to local community groups like National City’s Olivewood Gardens and Father Joe’s Village, though they are limiting partners due to rising food costs.

See you there

Located at 3586 Adams Avenue, White Rice hours of operation are 11AM to 8PM from Monday-Friday and 10AM to 8PM on the weekends, offering dine-in, pickup, as well as delivery through third party apps, and catering options.

For more info on White Rice Bodega, visit the website here and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

See you there, San Diego!

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