The three sisters behind LA’s Filipino street food sensation, Dollar Hits, are transporting their wildly popular skewers cross-country to a new location at 39-4 64th Street, at 39th Avenue, in Woodside on Saturday, August 20.
The skewers are the stuff of local legend: In 2012, owner Elvira Chan decided to sell the sticks for a dollar apiece on a six-foot table by the side of her grocery store. They soon drew lines so long that city officials put an end to it. Chan hauled the skewers into a food truck, and months later, into a newly leased storefront next door in the strip mall along with her sisters, Nelita Deguia and Josephine Estoesta. Dollar Hits became a hot spot right in the middle of Historic Filipinotown, where regulars line up for the shop’s 33 skewers or to grill their own — sizzling chicken intestine, beef, kwek kwek, battered and fried quail eggs, and turon, caramelized banana spring rolls — in the parking lot and bop around to Filipino pop music. An appearance on Netflix’s Street Food: USA fanned its flames further.
Now, the 33 skewers and their accompanying sweet and sour vinegar dipping sauce anchor the menu at the NYC location. “It’s always been my dream to expand my business,” says Chan.
The NYC restaurant marks the third Dollar Hits outpost, and the first on the East Coast. It joins a landscape of grilled meats on sticks that, while diverse, have rarely starred a restaurant focused on Filipino skewers, limited instead to pop-ups like Boy Isaw, a Filipino BBQ stall at the Hong Kong Food Court, and restaurants with skewers taking up a small portion of their menus like Woodside’s Ihawan or Gugu Room in the Lower East Side. But there is a strong overall Filipino restaurant presence in the neighborhood: Dollar Hits is located a block from popular Filipino chains, Jollibee and Red Ribbon Bakeshop, and a smattering of family-owned establishments in Little Manila.
“It’s like I’m in the Philippines,” she says. “But I’m in New York!”
Affordability is foundational at Dollar Hits, the sisters say. They priced the skewers at $1 apiece when the business first opened in 2013. Chan increased it for the first time to $1.25 last month in California in the face of inflation. The NYC outpost is selling the skewers for $1.50 each due to the higher costs of rent, employees, and general living expenses in New York.
“I can make more money [by charging more],” Chan says, but this is “to support people.” She wants to recreate the experience of eating street food in the Philippines where skewers are accessible to everyone.
Aside from the skewers, other slightly higher priced items include the rice dishes and breakfast combos ($8) like sisig over rice, and sweet snacks like mango with bagoong, or fermented shrimp paste, and an ube shake (both $5).
Dollar Hits took over two adjacent storefronts to make the Woodside expansion happen, with the kitchen, grill station, steam table, and counter located in the former Nepalese restaurant, Sumnima Kitchen, and the 30-seat dining section unfolding in the former Habibi Deli. The walls will be lined with photos depicting the three sisters; food bloggers who have eaten their food; and the skewers.
Outdoor tables will host up to 30 customers, and manager Gino Galura will pull up a barbecue grill occasionally for outdoor cooking. The team is not able to provide the DIY grilling opportunity in California due to New York’s regulations.
Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight.