We all got our places, but for my money the best kept brunch secret in all of Manhattan is Maharlika. This pop-up wunderkind finally has a stable location on 111 First Avenue. If you’re in town for a day or you’ve been living here since before the Great War you need to check this one out. There are few Filipino restaurants in New York City at all, but Maharlika is one of a kind, inspired in both menu and execution, with Chef Miguel Trinidad putting the idea of borders to shame. Few brunches are so simultaneously humble, comforting and wonder-making. Try the sizzling sisig or just some eggs with the sweet longaniza; shoot, even their mango-stuffed French toast will have you praying that this joint never shuts down, ever. Best of all co-founder Nicole Ponseca, who passes from table to table like grace, makes everyone feel like a high-rolling regular. Maharlika is a love poem to the 12th largest country in the world and even though it ain’t exactly in my language it’s a poem I love hearing at least once a week.
Junot Díaz is the author of “Drown” and “The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao,” which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City and is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which means he drives a whole lot.