We love exploring new neighborhoods for restaurants. We’ve hit Long Beach a lot, and now, are venturing a little farther north to Whittier, which seems to have been secretly hiding some little gems within its charming city. A few months ago, we were enamored by another spot, and this time, it’s Phlight, a bustling restaurant serving up Spanish and Mexican dishes.
This 12-year-old restaurant is a local favorite, its moniker reflecting the streets (Philadelphia and Bright) it sits on, or perhaps, for its extensive wine menu — I wish I’d asked.
We perused the menu and found many items we wanted to try. Patatas Bravas ($7) is easily one of the best gauges for Spanish cuisine. Believe it or not, something as simple as fried potatoes can easily be ruined, but at Phlight, these chunks of potatoes are perfect! Crispy on the outside, while still soft on the inside, they are coated with a dusting of paprika and chile de arbol. The accompanying garlic aioli was unfortunately broken – the oil separating from the protein – but the potatoes were so delicious on their own we didn’t mind at all not using the aioli.
I’m usually not a fan of croquettes, finding them too heavy and cheesy. My friend wants Spinach Croquetas ($8) and when it arrives, I take a small piece just to try. I love how there is more spinach than manchego cheese. I love how light this croquette is, so delicate it almost melts in my mouth. The accompanying roasted pepper cream sauce is nice, but the croquettes are so good on their own you don’t even need it.
I will always order octopus when I see it on the menu, and Grilled Spanish Octopus ($16) is executed well with the perfect chew on the cephalopod. I detest most sous vide proteins, and have been utterly tickled to find that this method of cooking has not infiltrated Whittier restaurants whatsoever. This means the tentacle has been slow braised and retains that perfect texture I look for when eating octopus. The mojo de cilantro is fragrant and flavorful, albeit, a bit too much on the plate. A little goes a long way.
Bowie’s Bacon Wrapped Dates ($9) are a bit too sweet for my savory palate, but my friend loved them. Sweet dates are stuffed with Spanish cheeses, then wrapped in bacon and grilled, then drizzled with a tamarind honey glaze.
There are several tacos on the menu, but the one that stands out is Lengua Tacos ($9). Tender chunks of beef tongue with fresh cabbage, and chipotle sit on top of corn tortillas – it is flavorful, and as good as any taco you’ll find in a Mexican taqueria.
We are eager to try Double Dipped Fried Chicken ($13) with chorizo and grilled kale. The chicken is splendidly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. There isn’t much else to say except it is one of my top three dishes of the night. *photo depicts a half order of the fried chicken*
Another favorite dish of the evening is Adobo Chicken Wings ($12) a divine offering bursting with umami and lip-smacking tart salty tang. The dish incorporates both adobo and spicy finadene sauce, a Chamorro (Guamanian) staple. The difference between adobo and finadene is the chile (heat). I want to sop up all the sauce with something! I want a scoop of rice with this. I love this dish so much I went home and tried to recreate it – TWICE!
Our last savory dish is Spicy Diablo Shrimp ($14) another spectacular offering. The shrimp are super fresh with a lovely snap. The sauce comprising onions, garlic, and butter is spicy and flavor-packed. Again, I want rice to go with it!
Phlight feels like a neighborhood eatery, but it is so much more. Food is tasty and service, warm and attentive. It is one of those restaurants you’ll want to return to, again, and again.
6724 Bright Ave
Whittier, CA 90801