New restaurant takes on the DMV


By Christine Viray, Staff Writer

A Filipino restaurant known as Bistro 1521 — the numbers referencing the year in which Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and was shortly killed — opened in late July, replaced Applebee’s a few months after it closed its doors.

Situated in the urban setting of Arlington, Virginia, Bistro 1521 treats its customers in a modern environment while serving classic Filipino dishes which include sisig (a pork dish served on a steaming hot plate), bicol express (a sliced pork dish with chili that is served on coconut milk) and jumbo squid — an ordinary jumbo squid served on a hot plate with vegetables.

In addition to the options provided by the main menu, there are also separate beverage and dessert menus available. One unique feature of Bistro 1521’s menu is an icon that is placed next to a dish if it may take a little longer to cook than the other dishes.

However, while a dish may be listed on the menu as having to take around 25 minutes to get cooked, it is normal for the cooks to prepare the dish at a quicker rate than the time listed next to the dish. Being a fifteen mile commute from George Mason University, Bistro 1521’s location is easily accessible to parents, students and faculty alike who are willing to broaden their taste buds and get a taste of authentic Filipino cuisine in the DMV area.

While Bistro 1521 has outdoor seating arrangements and an expansive interior that is equipped with a bar, it is highly recommended that people who wish to dine at the restaurant should make a reservation prior to their arrival since the restaurant is still new.  For example, if people were to arrive at the restaurant without making a reservation and request a booth, then they may have to wait for an hour or more for a booth to be available to them.  

Despite the wait, customers will be rewarded with large portions of fresh Filipino food once a table becomes available for them. Another recommendation is that customers should consider arriving to the restaurant at an earlier time if they do not want to miss the mango cupcake and the cassava cake options on the dessert menu—both of which are a favorite among Bistro 1521’s customers and well known to Filipino people.

While many stores and restaurants are accessible within a walkable distance in Arlington, Virginia, customers are recommended to arrive early so that they will not have a difficult time parking near the restaurant.  Customers can also find that they can park for free on certain days depending on what is posted on the parking signs. There are certain holidays that Bistro 1521 closes on, but the restaurant can also open on the same day depending on the time, which is normally posted to alert its customers when they can dine.    

Like the quality of the food served at Bistro 1521, the staff will make it their top priority to do their best to assist their customers so that they can enjoy their dining experience in the best way possible by serving them with a smile. The service is notably quick—if a customer’s glass of water becomes empty, then a waiter or waitress would promptly make sure that the same customer’s glass becomes full once more.  If a customer has a question or an issue, if any, then they are free to call a waiter or waitresses to assist them.  

Like the arrival time of each dish, customers do not have to wait long for anyone to arrive because there will always be a waiter or waitress nearby to assist a customer—people can even expect the bartender to help them even when they are not sitting at the bar area of the restaurant which makes Bistro 1521’s service exceed that of other restaurants in the DMV area.

Photo Courtesy of Christine Viray