Photo of Wing Villarias by Peter Hershey
Photo of Wing Villarias by Peter Hershey

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Next time you’re circled up with your drinking pals, tell them you’ve learned a cool new Filipino word. A “barkada” is a group of friends who drink together. A “crew,” if you will. Barkada is also what Chef Wing Villarias is calling his pop-up coming to Coconut Club next month.

On March 18, the Roxas, Philippines native will serve a seven-course meal inspired by foods that play well with booze. “I want to remember feeling at home,” he says.  “Just hang out like friends, have fun, and enjoy the food.”

The menu is still being developed, but dishes could include calamari with a squid ink aioli, grilled mussels in a coconut sauce, and halo-halo—the textural wonderland that is the favorite dessert of the Philippines. There will be two seatings available: one at 6 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person, unless you bring a group of six or more people. Tickets for these larger parties are $60 per person. The price includes the seven-course meal, one cocktail, and tax. Gratuity is not included. 

Villarias fell in love for cooking when his mom put him in charge of making meals for his six brothers and sisters growing up. When he arrived in the U.S., Villarias’ first restaurant job was washing dishes at the National Museum of Natural History. He then gained further experience cooking at Cambodian, Indian, Italian, and American restaurants.

Currently Villarias is employed as a line cook at Coconut Club. Chef/owner Adam Greenberg will hand over control of the kitchen for this pop-up.

The rising chef has also been a part of Foodhini, a delivery platform that helps immigrant chefs get their food in front of more people. Villarias hopes to one day own his own restaurant. 

Fun note: One of D.C.’s best restaurants, Bad Saint, got its start on the same block. The still-hot Filipino eatery held one of its first pop-ups inside the Dolcezza Factory also on Penn Street NE.

Barkada at Coconut Club, 540 Penn St. NE