Matthews Grill in Gaithersburg, Maryland

The DMV Staple of Filipino Cuisine: Matthew’s Grill


The longest operating Filipino restaurant in the DMV has provided authentic Filipino cuisine to the area for nearly a decade, fostering community and expanding the American palette.

For nearly a decade, Matthew’s Grill has been a culinary cornerstone, spreading the flavors of the Philippines throughout the DMV. Owned and operated by Reymond Santos-Domingo and his dedicated team, it stands as one of the area’s longest-operating Filipino restaurants, fostering a vibrant celebration of Filipino-American culture within the local dining landscape.

Inspired by Reymond’s roots in Pampanga, Matthew’s Grill offers a tantalizing array of dishes, named after members of Reymond’s family and largely recognized as an homage to his heritage. From the sizzle of Kapampangan Sisig to the succulence of the crowd's favorite Crispy Pata, every bite is a journey through the diverse flavors of the archipelago.

Pampanga, often hailed as the culinary capital of the Philippines, is a Filipino province located on the southwestern part of Luzon, one of the main islands of the archipelago. It is home to many popular Filipino dishes, including Sisig, a savory dish made from pork belly and chicken liver, often topped with calamansi, onions and chili peppers. Historically described as a green papaya and vinegar-based salad as early as 1732, the term was re-attributed to the pork dish made by famous restauranter Lucia Cunanan in 1975. Now, it has become an integral part of any Filipino restaurant’s cuisine, and Matthew’s Grill proudly serves it on their menu to the Filipino’s and non-Filipinos of DC.

Filipinos in DC represent a vibrant and dynamic community, albeit relatively small compared to other ethnic groups. According to the United States Census Bureau, Filipino Americans make up only 1.27 percent of the DC metropolitan population. Additionally, George Mason University’s Institute for Immigration Research has found that the Filipino immigrant population represents only 3.41 percent of the total immigrant population in the United States. Despite their numbers, Filipinos and Filipino Americans play a pivotal role in the cultural fabric of the nation’s capital. They contribute not only through their civic engagement and representation but also through their rich culinary heritage, and Matthew’s Grill stands as a testament to this community’s resilience and spirit.

Established by Reymond, the restaurant is a labor of love, named after his son, Matthew. Reymond found himself venturing into the business in part to fund his son’s college education. Originally structured as a catering and buffet-style establishment, Matthew’s Grill found itself upheaved by the Covid-19 pandemic. Rising costs and strict precautions for restaurants meant buffets were no longer a viable option.

Raymond Santos-Domingo

Reymond and his team took this opportunity to re-evaluate their business strategy. Initially, the pandemic led to a further focus on the catering side of the business. The pandemic also allowed the restaurant to undergo renovations in 2021 as part of efforts to increase dining capacity. However, as CDC guidelines loosened, Mathew’s Grill renewed restaurant dine-in services, operating fully on weekends and by appointments during the week. “These changes have made a lot more sense for us operationally,” said Reymond, who manages a small team of four.

Matthew’s Grill catering now extends its reach far across the DMV area. Catering for weddings, religious events, and even Filipino college community groups, the restaurant has supplied the area with authentic Kapampangan cuisine consistently for 9 years and has experienced a great deal of change. Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, next to the Lotte Plaza Market, Reymond and the family have seen multiple restaurants open and close their doors on the strip.

The continued success of Matthew’s Grill is not just about its high-quality ingredients and traditional cooking methods, it is further the restaurants’ ability to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with Filipino communities. Much like the famous dish, Matthew’s Grill has become a staple of the DC metropolitan area.

The author would like to thank Reymond Santos-Domingo and the Deausen family for their generous time and insight.

Rocco Cartusciello is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. and a graduate student at Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, enrolled in the Master of Arts in Asian Studies program, focusing on Southeast Asian Affairs