Forkin Good Café is so certainly fresh that even its front door oozes authenticity.
El Rancho High School

Forkin Good Café is a great place to grub

Uptown Whittier is teeming with small business shops, ranging from neighborhood boutiques to good humored cafes and restaurants. If you had $20 and you wanted to spend it on a dinner for two, find a date to go with first. Then, spend that cash on lunch or breakfast at Forkin Good Café in Uptown Whittier. The conversational environment coupled with friendly waiters and up-to-standard quality food will make your experience at Forkin Good an unforgettable one.

Caterer and Chef Denise Portillo brought her culinary career into the limelight with the establishment of her café. “I wasn’t planning on opening a restaurant. I do catering. I was planning to use the kitchen here to help out with my catering career. [However,] the city decided they needed me to actually open a restaurant on Greenleaf, so I went for it. I wanted to bring my concept of eating, which is whole foods, to Whittier. People eat whatever is growing on the earth and living on the earth. I just believe in eating healthy which means eating in moderation.”

When I walked in, the barista and waitress greeted me with a genuine friendly “hello” buttered with a cheeky smile, an always tasteful touch. When I got to my table, I ordered a Cucumber Mint Lemonade, a very interesting choice for me as I’m more of a tap water or soda person. The cucumber is very discernible; however, it complements the sweet tangy taste of the lemonade. Water was also served in an unique recycled glass bottle (if I had to measure it, I’d say it was 2 liters).

It's so fresh you can taste the green!
It’s so fresh you can taste the green!

The service was a little slow, but the wait was worth it. My seasoned turkey sandwich came after what seemed like twenty minutes. The artisan bread was cooked to a nice toast in the middle. The turkey was comfortably sliced and served with a tasteful layer of mixed greens. The sauce was a little bitter, but it’s an acquired taste. Overall, the sandwich’s taste and its presentation delineated the cafe’s comfort food ambiance.

A nicely seasoned turkey sandwich with mixed greens - yummy!
A nicely seasoned turkey sandwich with mixed greens – yummy!

Portillo was not wrong in establishing a café with a conversational mood. “There will never be a television in my restaurant. I want people to communicate with each other. I think [communication is] important for people’s well-beings. If they eat by themselves, then I want them to enjoy their experience and to nourish their bodies. Quality of life is worth a lot.”

Portillo’s preachings of quality, wholesome product are exemplified in her food. Portillo says, “a lot of people complain that we take a long time, but we devote that time to making sure the customer’s food is as good and fresh as it can be. We don’t do fast food.”

Saying the food is good would be an understatement. Portillo not only makes what she preaches, but she makes sure her product is the Rushmore of the Whittier community. To extend the pungent flavors of my meal, I ordered a white pizza consisting of ricotta cheese, herbs, mozzarella cheese, and a pineapple citrus twang in the crust. The combination of the ricotta cheese and the fruity crust was a blended heaven for my taste buds.

One may ask why such an innovative, homestyle restaurant would have such an ingenious almost-vulgar name.  Portillo attributes this name to her occupation as a chef and the frustrations of being a chef. “Most chefs cuss in the kitchen. When I was coming up with a name for my café, I tried to think of something french and fancy. [However,] my daughter critiqued the bleakness of a French name, claiming such a name to be ‘so boring.’ So when I was making the menu, my daughter suggested that I should name my café something that reflects me. Since I really couldn’t think of a name that describes the food, I took my daughter’s advice and named it after something that reflected me: a cussing chef.”

The friendly environment and tasty food of Forkin Good Café is the perfect local date spot. After you watch an affordable romantic comedy with your date at Starlight Whittier Village Cinemas, talk about it and enjoy a sandwich at Forkin Good Café. You’ll have a “forkin’ good” time!

-James Chow