Get to Know Half of the Sibling Act Behind Milwaukee’s Only Filipino Restaurant

Meat on the Street’s Alexa Alfaro sees herself as a restaurateur and educator.

Alexa Alfaro is half of the sibling act behind the almost 6-year-old Meat on the Street, the city’s only Filipino restaurant. Along with her younger brother/head chef Matthew keeping the quality of the food high, Alfaro sees the business as part of her mission to educate people on this cuisine, which is composed of over 100 ethnic groups scattered across the Philippines.

To that end, she contributed to the 2018 cookbook The New Filipino Kitchen, which contains the stories and recipes of 30 Filipino chefs and home cooks. She is keenly aware that some diners are getting their first taste of this varied cuisine when they visit Meat on the Street, whether at its standing location in Eleven25 at Pabst or as an ambulating food truck, and she endeavors to make their experience enjoyable.

We sat down with Alfaro to talk about leadership, goals, family and pancit.

Q&A with Alexa Alfaro

You are the face of Meat on the Street. Have you always seen yourself as a leader?

It depends on the day. Some days I’m completely confident. I feel like I’m designed for this chaos. And sometimes it’s really hard. I struggle like everyone else. It comes down to being true to yourself. And [Matt and I] have a passion for this.

What are your goals?

In the short term, it’s trying to make more money in winter. We’re pushing our catering, including vegan dishes. We want to do a pop-up dinner where you eat with your hands. And in the long term, we’d like to expand our reach. Madison is high on our list. Chicago and Minneapolis, too.

Is there one Filipino dish that inspired Meat on the Street?

My parents met because of pancit [a stir-fried noodle dish]. It binded my family together. My father fell for my mom but didn’t have the guts to ask her out. He promised someone who knew her and loved pancit that if he fixed him up with my mom, my dad would make him pancit.

How do you and Matt navigate working together?

Filipino culture is about family. My dad is one of 11 kids. It’s ingrained in us. Five years in, we’ve taken therapy to learn how to communicate better. We want to be the best team ever and create our own rules for how brother-sister partners should work.

3 Menu Must-Tries

Meat Stix

Essentially these are chicken, beef or pork skewered and grilled, and served with a citrus sauce. It’s also one of Alexa Alfaro’s family faves, because of the tender blend of meat and fat and the just-right amount of charring on the exterior.

Pork Adobo Bowl

A simple, well-seasoned meal of juicy simmered pork butt in a tangy soy- and vinegar-based sauce, served with white or garlic rice.

Lumpia roll

A light Crispy Filipino egg roll stuffed with ground pork, cabbage, carrots, green beans and celery. Dip it generously in the sweet chile sauce.

Meat stix (top left), lumpia roll (bottom left) and pork adobo bowl (right). Photo by Chris Kessler

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.