Three words. Charcoal. Rotisserie. Chicken.
In my former life as a San Francisco Bay Area food critic, I became quite the passionate eater of pollo a la brasa. It didn't help that my husband came from a family of serious rotisserie chicken eaters in Washington, D.C., where there is a sizable Peruvian population in and around our nation's capital. Takeout for them wasn't Chinese or pizza. It was spit-roasted El Pollo Rico, piled high with coleslaw and thick-cut, piping hot potato wedges.
So you can imagine me and my husband's utter joy when I heard about Hillman City's Big Chickie in the refurbished Rudy's Service station on Rainier Avenue South, just a few blocks south of Columbia City. Owner Matthew Stubbs and his family opened for counter-service in 2014 and have been cooking up fresh chickens (which are first marinated in a secret mixture for 24 hours, natch) over smokey hardwood charcoal with delicious sides ever since.
I'm not sure which I loved more, the crispy skin and juicy chicken or my sides of apple-and-golden-raisin flecked kale salad, lime-glazed (that's how you do it) sweet potatoes or homemade mini corn muffins. The current price for a 1/4 dark meal (leg and thigh, two sices, corn muffin and one sauce - get the BBQ sauce) is $8.50. Seriously, get on this.
Next time I'm going for the chicken empanadas ($5) filled with creamy chicken made with Peruvian aji amarillo and their cumin-laced black bean dip with plaintain chips ($5.50).
Don't have that, do you, S.F. and D.C.?