I don’t know about other places in the country but in the DC area there’s a Peruvian “charcoal” chicken place every 50 feet or so, from local chains to mom-and-pop one-offs of greatly varying quality. El Pollo Rico has long been king, though somehow not quite the same since they moved (in Wheaton; never been to the Arlington location). Super Chicken makes a good bird, and they tend to give humongous portions of their sides.
Anyway, what are they doing to those chickens that makes them so damned good? Or any other thoughts on Peruvian chicken?
My fiancee have been experimenting with the wealth of Peruvian restaurants we’ve discovered in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. Neither of us had had Peruvian before moving to this area, and we’re finding that we’re enjoying it immensely.
Personally, I don’t care what it is they’re doing to their chicken. Laced with crack, you say? Fine, fine. Just keep the tasty coming.
Those Peruvian Chicken places are the kind of place that you almost can’t walk by without eating there. You can smell the cooking chicken from a block away and you just kind of get hypnotized into following the smoke into the place.
ETA: DCnDC: I swear I’m not stalking you, but I think you work in Bethesda (where I work), do you know a place in the area?
Chicken on the Run on St Elmo. Never been there but gone past it many times and it’s gotten pretty favorable reviews. My experience with the dozens of different places I’ve been to in the area is that even when it’s not great, it’s still pretty damn good.
My wife is from the DC area and, prior to that, from Peru. Every time we head back to visit family, we may as well live in one of the chicken joints. I’ll admit it’s both delicious and distinctive. Nothing really close to it here in Chicago suburbia unless I perhaps want to trek up to the north side for one of the few Peruvian restaurants and even those are more sit-down places. Back in DC, you can just order it and go.
Pollo Rico in Arlington is the best I’m aware of. I tried to make some with a recipe I found on the internet, but it just wasn’t the same (and cumin is hard to come by here in Korea). The big secret is the rotisserie; those chickens roll in their own fat drippings over charcoal, which just feeds into the deliciousness.
Related but different: Pollo Campero, a Guatemalan chain with a somewhat different recipe, is also really good, but not consistent from one location to the other. I love the Bailey’s Crossroads location, I’m okay with Herndon’s, and I can take or leave the 14th Street locale.
Down here in Florida we have La Granja - some folks claim it doesn’t sit well in their stomach afterwards, but most agree it’s damn good, dollarwise especially. 1/4 chicken w/rice & beans is $3.50, while a 1/2 chicken with rice, beans plantains & soda is $7.50. No wonder new locations are popping up like weeds.
P.S. Their logo looks a bit like the SNL commercial “Cluckin’ Chicken”, don’t it?
I’ve not had authentic Peruvian chicken, but I’ve made the Cooks Illustrated version of Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken that uses a vertical roaster in a 500F oven. That recipe uses garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, sugar, oregano, lime zest, black pepper, habanero chiles, and mint leaves as a rub/marinade. It also calls for a mayo made with onion, lime juice, cilantro, halapenos, garlic, and mustard as a dipping sauce.
I find it quite good, but I have no way of knowing how ‘authentic’ it is. Can anyone comment?
I’ve been to those Peruvian chicken places and just don’t see what the fuss is. It tastes like any other kind of spit-roasted chicken to me. One of my Peruvian friends told me it gets soaked in beer, but that seems like it would make the chicken taste nasty.