pork shishkabobs from manileno in tower grove south photo by michelle volansky

Manileño will serve homestyle Filipino cuisine in Tower Grove South this fall

There will soon be a new spot to eat Filipino cuisine when Manileño opens in the former home of Sno at 3611 Juniata St. in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis later this year. The eatery is operated by a St. Louis family, which consists of mother Josie Seele, along with her daughter Rocky Torio and sons Randy, Resty and Rolando Torio. 

The eatery is named for the capitol city of Manila, from where the Torio family hails. Although Seele and two of her sons have a passion for cooking, the decision to open a restaurant has been something on Seele’s mind since the late ’90s, when she was on the verge of opening a restaurant in the South County area. Ultimately, the timing wasn’t right back then, as Seele decided to put the idea on the backburner to retire and do some traveling. 

According to Rocky Torio, everything aligned this year and the family decided to come together to go for it as a team. The family found their location on Juniata Street in September and are working quickly to transform the space to meet their vision. 

“When we saw the location, it was just love at first sight and we’ve received overwhelming support from the neighborhood,” said Rocky Torio. 

With two floors offering seating, the space is still undergoing some construction, but Torio said she expects to be able to seat anywhere from 125 to 160 guests between both floors once the buildout is complete. With wood floors, exposed brick walls painted in white and colorful couches near the bar area, the decor is a blend of modern and industrial, with touches of the elements in the form of plants and lots of natural light.  

Manileño will serve traditional lutong bahay Filipino food, or homestyle food. “It’s what you would see at family dinners or gatherings,” Torio said of the cuisine.

The menu will consist of traditional Filipino dishes, most of which are based on Seele’s recipes. “My mom’s always been known for her great culinary skills,” said Torio. “Her passion is and always has been for cooking and for food.”

Guests can expect to see items like shishkabob, made with chicken or pork, as well as the Filipino noodle dish pancit, along with lumpia. Other dishes will include kare kare, an ox tail soup made with bok choy, string beans and eggplant, and bistek tagalog, which is sliced beef marinated in soy sauce and lime juice, simmered with onions, and both dishes will be served with jasmine rice. 

The team is in the process of obtaining a liquor license and plans are in place for a full bar with a seating area that will serve wine, beer and spirits. The eatery plans to carry imported San Miguel and Red Horse beers from the Philippines, as well as featuring some local beers. 

In addition to food and a bar, there will also be a cafe area where guests can find a few sweets and coffee imported from the Philippines. Much of the dessert menu will rotate, with a few items that will always be available like cassava cake, a traditional Filipino cake made from grated cassava with a custard topping, as well as turon, which combines plantain and jack fruit in a spring roll, topped with caramel sauce and sesame seeds.

The eatery is expected to open in late November or early December, with service hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the possibility of serving a Sunday brunch menu in the future.