A Filipino Restaurant, Bar, and “Artspace” Is Headed for Bow Market
Tanám is a permanent home for Ellie Tiglao's "narrative cuisine."
While Somerville’s own food hall and maker market is under construction, more local entrepreneurs are getting their feet in the (garage) door. The latest is Ellie Tiglao, the self-taught chef behind the Filipino pop-up Pamangan. She’s developing a new concept for Bow Market called Tanám, which will host intimate, dynamic dining experiences and—if all goes according to plan—a separate-but-attached outdoor cocktail bar.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, preview some of the bar bites Tiglao is working on for the new concept. Tanám pops up at Dudley Dough from 6-9 p.m., with a la carte items like vegetarian bubúto, a ground rice tamale steamed in a banana leaf; Shanghai-style veal lumpia, and more. The event is first-come, first-served, and Facebook RSVPs are encouraged.
Tiglao has worked with the culinary cooperative Olio on her Pamangan pop-ups, and her related cultural-culinary advocacy program, Kulinarya. Rain Abdelrazaq, another Olio worker-owner, is helping her develop Tanám.
“When it’s just me working myself [on a meal], I go through a bunch of certain narratives, from the personal, to a broad, historical narrative, and each course has a media component,” Tiglao explains. “But we’re also working with artists to think about what the intersection of food and art may look like.”
That may mean a visiting playwright comes in to read a monologue, while Tiglao and Abdelrazaq create relevant dishes to accompany it; or a projection artist displays their latest work on Tanám’s 10-seat table; or even a musician sits in for an MTV Unplugged-style performance. Tanám will use a ticketing system, like Tock—what Juliet uses to sell its “culinary productions” just around the block from Bow Market—to sell seats for individual dining experiences, Tiglao says.
Every Wednesday, she adds, Tanám will host a kamayan-style dinner, a traditional Filipino feast served on a spread of banana leaves, which diners dive into with their hands—no utensils necessary.
“I went to school for art history and neuroscience. I had not necessarily thought about how to integrate them, but as I continued studying, I saw where they might intersect,” Tiglao says. In 2014, she left the field of neuroscience and started a Kapampangan-American dinner series with her brother, RJ. Their father was a chef in Monterey, Calif., and had always cooked food from the Philippines at home.
“Since I started thinking about food and doing this pop-up, it’s always been ‘let’s try this, let’s try that,'” Tiglao says. “I want to create a space that encapsulates all parts of me, but I’m also trying to think about how to use that space that may be accessible to other sorts of people.”
The bar component, which requires some extra licensing before it’s officially green-lit, will have a small selection of Filipino bites, Tiglao says. “We’re still finalizing the menu, but our thought around it is lots of things you can take with you in compostable to-go ware,” she says. After the nightly dinner production inside the main dining area, a late-night menu will borrow from the bar.
Everything will pair with cocktails with a Filipino slant—a white rum mojito with tamarind, maybe; a rotating coconut milk punch, or alcoholic boba tea.
Tanám is headed for the first bay on the left side of Bow Market, and Tiglao is working with the local design firm Supernormal to efficiently design the 400-square foot space to include a kitchen, the 10-seat dining room, and the bar. She signed a relatively lengthy, five-year lease with Bow Market—the new development offers short-term leases on small-scale shops to encourage innovation—for her first brick-and-mortar.
“Tanám means ‘cultivation,’ like rooting or planting,” Tiglao says. “It essentially refers to the making of a space, putting down your place.”
Update, Monday, Nov. 13, 10:30 a.m.: This post has been updated with information about Tanám’s November 18 pop-up at Dudley Dough.