The North Shore is a little jollier, as beloved Filipino restaurant chain Jollibee (3534 W. Touhy Ave., 847-674-3900) opened in Skokie on Friday.

This is the first Midwest outpost and 34th U.S. location of Jollibee, which is the largest and most popular fast-food chain in the Philippines—with over 900 locations in its home country. So why target the North Shore?

“We look for a large Filipino population,” says Maribeth Dela Cruz, vice president and general manager of Jollibee USA. With 84,800 Filipinos in Illinois—of which 78,400 are in the Chicago metro area—our state has the country’s third-largest Filipino population.

So it’s not surprising that the chain is also planning to open a location in Chicago’s North Mayfair neighborhood (5033 N. Elston Ave.) later this year.

Jollibee also has U.S. locations in California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Virginia.

The Skokie restaurant will have counter-service ordering and pickup, 112 seats inside, and a drive-through. Diners can expect the fast-food usual suspects, like fried chicken and burgers, but with a twist. Here’s a quick rundown of popular dishes:

  • Aloha Yum Burger: grilled 1/3-pound beef patty topped with bacon, lettuce, cheese, “special” dressing, and a grilled pineapple ring on sesame seed bun
  • Chickenjoy: fried chicken that’s marinated in a secret blend of spice powders imported from the Philippines and served with gravy
  • Jolly Spaghetti: yes, spaghetti, tossed in a signature sweet sauce with slices of ham, hot dog, and ground meat
  • Peach mango pie: flaky, slightly sweet crust filled with diced peaches and mango in thick sauce

“The food is quite different but also familiar, with special flavors that make a difference,” says Dela Cruz.