Turo-Turo in Manhattan

Who would have thought that turo-turo, the Pinoy version of fast food, is available in Manhattan? Elvie's Turo-Turo, a diminutive cafeteria-style operation, has actually been around since 1993. If it's longevity is any indication, it could only mean they're doing something right. As many already knows, New York is notorious with new restaurants that doesn't even see the light of day, closing their doors after only a few months.

Snooty New Yorkers however, may frown at cooked food that's been sitting for hours but to a homesick Pinoy who's craving for a familiar quick meal, this certainly fits the bill. Since the restaurant is only 15 minutes walk from where I work, I decided to go there again for lunch. I wanted to go before the busy lunch hour crowd. With several hospitals in the vicinity that employs so many Pinoy nurses and doctors, you can just imagine a lot of hungry stomachs vying for the few tables available. More often, people just take-out their orders.

Similar to most turo-turo joints in the Philippines, trays laden with cooked food lay behind the glass-enclosed counter. The menu is scribbled on a chalkboard with specials of the day. But every time I come here, just like today, I always opt for the set meal which can be taken dine-in or take-out: for $8.50, I get a choice of two entrees and a mound of steamed rice.
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I had Tinolang Manok - one of my comfort foods - and Tortang Talong. The Tinola was still steaming when served in a large bowl, its aroma giving me a hint of ginger. As I spooned a slice of tender chicken, the spinach and chayote jostled in, as if to say: eat us too. It was good. The Talong was just lightly battered so it didn't come out too starchy. Overall, I feel it's worth it for the price I paid.

Just like previous visits, I find it's not just Pinoys who are actually eating but some adventurous tastebuds who've initially heard about Chicken/Pork Adobo and now have engaged their fingers to point-point. A quick glance at what others are eating and I see some have ventured into Pinakbet and Kare-Kare! I felt a surge of pride that somehow, Pinoy cuisine - long been overshadowed by other Southeast Asian flavors - is getting its fair share of fingers pointing in the right direction.


  1. Nagutom ako ulit bigla. I wonder if they serve my favorite dish there: kinilaw na bariles (or tanigue).

  2. Pinoy na pinoy. Ayan hindi mo na nami-miss ang lutong pinoy. Affordable pa. Di ba mahal ang talong dyan?

  3. Ang ganda ng effect dun sa first photo! I've been practising to come up with something like that, heehee. There's also a turo turo in Abu Dhabi, it's named "Tagpuan".

  4. Ah tinola and tortang talong, two of my faves. Whenever I go to Goldilocks here I always take home some tortang talong :)

    I hope that joint continues to grow.

  5. Hi Abaniko,
    There's a kinilaw na bariles pero not during the day I was there.

    Hi Redlan,
    Oo nga eh, mabuti na lang di naman kamahalan. Kahit yung talong sa grocery, di naman mahal.

    Hi Witsandnuts,
    I'm sure marami dyan sa UAE. Even in Jeddah where I used to work, may turo-turo din.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    Ah Goldilocks in California! I remember eating at one of their branches there.

  6. Talagang kahit saan may Filipino Foods na. Yum Yum.

  7. Nice to know someone came up with a great idea, and at the same time promoting our wonderful array of Filipino dishes.

    Meanwhile, I have a new blog entry about the Liuho Tourist Night market in Kaohsiung.:)

  8. i saw pritong isda!..I doubt kung GiGi sya (galunggong in case u forget)... may turo-turo ba diyan na outdoor?..para talgang pinas na, hehe.. im sure the biz is good. matakaw ang pinoy eh.

    we had a few out-here, however u can only find it in 2 big emirates abuDhabi en Dubai..in 5 other emirates, ban ang fork and arabic/indian resto mostly.

    kagutom tong shots and kwento mo dens.

  9. I thought such a place would only thrive in Woodside, Queens....good to know its found a niche in Manhattan. Hey, this reminds me that in Woodside, right by the intersection of Woodside Ave and Roosevelt, there is a great chicken house...forgot its name but people line up even in winter just to taste it. I hope it's still around. Try it!

  10. gentle216:34:00 PM

    OMG. Where in Manhattan?

  11. Hi Lawstude,
    kahit saan na kasi may Pinoy kaya from the business point of view, may market talaga.

    Hi Asian Traveler,
    Yup, I'll be checking your new entry. I have a colleague at work who's now in Taiwan.

    Hi Josh,
    May pritong isda nga pero di ko lang alam kung Gigi (ha ha, I didn't know it means galunggong!)
    This is the only turo-turo in New York that I know. Walang outdoor na version.

    Hi Gigit,
    Mas marami nga sa Woodside pero lahat sila ay cook-to-order restaurants na. I don't see any chicken house anymore, baka yung pumalit eh yung Krystal's Cafe na Pinoy din.

    Hi Clint,
    OMG, I'm surprised you don't know this. Elvie's is at 1st Avenue between 12th & 13th Sts. Take the L train from Union Square and stop at 1st Avenue. It's a short walk from there.

  12. i came across your blog and now i'm hooked! like you, i'm pinoy (although i'm manila-based) and i love to travel. it's extra hard to do that as i carry a pinoy passport (visa requirements to everywhere) but that's not stopping me! anyway i just wanted to say you have a great blog here and i would definitely come back for more :)

  13. hahaha... kakatuwa naman. may turo turo pala diyan. sana dadami pa ang pinoy restos diyan para makilala ang pinoy delicacies.

    more of pinoy shops please. ganda ng feature na to.

  14. Hi Mussolini,
    Thanks for the visit. Will drop by your site as well.

    Hi Dong,
    Oo nga, it's great to have something familiar. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll be featuring other Pinoy businesses in the future.

  15. natuwa naman ako dito...sarap pa ng pagkain pinoy!..at umabot pa ng sa manhattan aang turo turo at pritong talong...hmmmm! RAPSA!

  16. oooo that longs so good. masarap! too bad i already ate. :P

  17. Wow! Kailan kaya magkakaroon niyan sa Adelaide? Baka ako pa ang mag-u-open ng Turu-turo rito. U

    May papaitan ba at dinuguan?

    Salamat sa pagdalaw sa The Chook-minder's Quill! (,"o

  18. Wow that's nice to know. I hope Filipino cuisine will be as popular as its southeast asian counterparts.

  19. Nice naman nito. Ako din, gusto ko papaitan? Meron kaya sila nun?

  20. Why I never heard of this amazing blog?

    I remember eating the most delicious tortang talong and it was hidden and forgotten within most of the well known name called "goldilocks" I was searching high and low where can I eat it again such a good taste not oily not greasy and perfect taste if you're going vegan. I guess the thing they did it they cook it using steamed or boiling and fried it a little. The egg's taste was yummy, fluffy & it wasn't burnt! the ground meat was perfectly mixed with the other ingredients and the taste of the eggplant really lingers! and the vinegar with garlic and pepper a little tang of cucumber really would add to the taste! sadly that was way way way back then. Goldi really change without that Tortang talong it isn't the goldi I used to love.

    I decide to follow this blog :)


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