Whittier has steadily elevated itself as a worthy food city in Southern California. Delicious mom-and-pop spots have taken over the city’s commercial core in Uptown Whittier, and the lesser known corners of East and South Whittier. Even the Los Angeles Times agrees. While the restaurants on the Time’s list are mostly great selections, some are debatable (while the Mexican-in-Chief loves Bizarra Capital—probably because they quote his Taco USA in the men’s pisser, I’m meh). Being raised and based in Whittier, I’ve witnessed this uprising of food culture first-hand, and I’m glad people are finally talking about my lovely hometown.
So let’s get to it: 10 great food spots in Whittier, from a fellow Whittier resident to another and to anyone who finds themselves in ye friendly towne.
Tacos Los Primos
The best damn taco truck in Whittier, period. Primo’s Tacos has dished up authentic Mexican antojitos in front of the Whittier DMV parking lot for about four years now, with a loyal following lining up in front of their truck every night. The friendly cashier endearingly calls every customer primo or prima. In addition to the warm familia vibes this place radiates, the tacos are outstanding: Not too greasy, and the tortillas are thin enough to not drown out any flavors but thick enough to taste their corn goodness. The meats are all savory, so you can’t go wrong with whichever type of taco you decide. The real standouts at Primo’s are the juicy grilled onions and the perfected hot sauces. While the guacamole sauce and the green sauce are delicious, the red sauce is the best: The smokey taste and spicy kick have me shamelessly taking home four tazitas of it so that the rest of my meals that week have an added boost #Chicanaproblems. 13498 Mulberry Dr., Whittier.
Since 1973, Pizzamania has been the go-to pizza spot in Whittier. The extremely saucy and cheesy thick-crust pizza is generously sized and deliciously greasy. My favorite meat toppings are the pepperoni and sausage. The pepperoni is classic and simple while the sausage is mildly spicy. Expect a bit of a wait for these beloved pizza pies but as with any packed restaurant, the wait is always worth it. 13547 Telegraph Rd., Whittier, (562) 944-8803 Pho Whittier
A recent expansion of Pho Whittier’s interior is evidence of the restaurant’s growing popularity. Large, steaming bowls of pho are this spot’s specialty. Generous servings of rice noodles, quality meats, and savory broth are in high demand in a city that previously lacked Vietnamese food. Beef spring rolls, chai iced tea and condensed milk with coffee are also great options. 8426 Laurel Ave., Whittier, (562) 360- 1326.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast while taking in the lovely quaintness of Uptown Whittier at Mimo’s Cafe. Mimo’s offers great casual eats at economically friendly prices. Gluttonous breakfast burritos and classics like Eggs Benedict are on the breakfast menu but my personal favorite is the Santa Fe skillet. I mean just look at it! The Santa Fe skillet consists of eggs, chorizo, skillet potatoes, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and buttered toast. The Santa Fe chicken sandwich, chicken
Luna Estrella Mexican Cocina
Forgive Luna Estrella’s hard-to-find location in an awkward strip mall off of First Avenue. Once walking in the scenery changes as the restaurant offers a minimalist, modern, Mexican kitchen vibe. I got the plato combo and chose a chicken taquito and chicken enchilada to accompany my rice and beans. I was expecting an ordinary meal but was surprised to have the best taquito I’ve ever experienced—a perfect mix of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The chicken was juicy and well seasoned. The chicken enchilada was topped with a creamy chile verde that had me nearly licking my plate clean—no shame in that game. 1125 First Ave., Whittier, (562) 902-1000.
Bailey Street Kitchen
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled next time you take a stroll down Bailey or you’ll miss this hidden gem. Food with high-class aesthetics and taste but with reasonable prices is what you can expect at Bailey’s Street Kitchen. Everything from Italian to Mexican is available on their menu. Truffle fries, the bacon
Off The Hook Fish Grill
Off The Hook is off the hook! This fish grill is relatively new to Whittier and is already causing a buzz in its short time here. It’s bittersweet for me to visit this new establishment because it once housed my favorite pupuseria in Whittier—rest in peace El Comedor. But I’m glad Off The Hook is continuing a legacy of great dining on this corner of Hadley. Lobster bisque, fish and chips, shrimp aguachile and refreshing ceviche with Mexican beer are just a few options on the fish-filled menu. 12824 Hadley St, Whittier, (562) 696-6191; www.myoffthehook.com.
Gu Thai is Thai cuisine with a modern spin. Aside from serving up Thai staples such as pad thai or coconut lemongrass soup, Gu Thai’s menu also boasts unconventional options such as poke tacos, shrimp chow
WoWo’s Smokin’ Hot BBQ
Goodbye La Pizza Loca; hello WoWo’s Smokin Hot BBQ. At WoWo’s you’ll find tender St. Louis Ribs—smoked to perfection, BBQ chicken, brisket and pulled pork. Don’t forget the gooey mac ‘n’ cheese and treat yo self to the decadent red velvet cake. 13022 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, (562) 273-5477.