Sunday, January 13, 2008
I've been hearing quite a bit about this relatively new Peruvian chicken place in Highlandtown lately. Everyone seems to be saying that their chicken is, well, rico (tasty). Since I had a little time on my hands and a need to do a little shopping for some tomatillos and stuff, I made my way into the city.
Located on Highlandtown's main drag, Chicken Rico is a simple and casual affair. Formica tables with those tube extruded metal chairs with faux vinyl cushions (you know the type) that are packed with mostly people of Hispanic descent means that the food is probably pretty authentic and tasty (rico). While the dining room is simple, the open kitchen features two large wood burning chicken rotisseries that were imported from Peru (at least that's what I'm guessing since the glass doors have a Peruvian phone number on them). Inside their bellies spin racks and racks of whole chickens glistening in their own juices.
It's about 1:15 on a Sunday afternoon. Church has let out and the place is jam-packed with people. Besides myself, there are maybe three or four other non-Hispanic (gringos) people in the place. Couples, friends, families - everyone is here eating, chatting or watching Primer Impacto on the television.
As I wait to order, two attractive Peruvian women are in front of me waiting for my chicken. I think of chatting with them and asking for pointers on how to properly eat like a Peruvian. Sounds dumb, I know - but you never know...
When it's time for me to order, I ask for the 1/4 chicken special. The two girls ahead of me have taken both leg quarters from the chicken and left me with the white meat. For a moment, I briefly ponder ordering half a chicken then decide that's just too much - and white meat is better for you anyway.
By chance, the only table left is next to theirs (I promise) and I'm off to the races. For my two sides (included), I chose french fries and rice. Sure it's not as balanced as say: rice and beans, but I do love rice and fries. The fries are disappointingly cold and the rice is just ho-hum and lukewarm. It's a busy place so I can understand why they would fry large batches of fries, but these have been sitting around for a bit too long. Plus, they're those wide, frozen Simplot fries so they're not the best but the additives help them stay as crisp as possible.
Meanwhile, the girls are really getting into their chicken. They're tearing the leg and thigh pieces apart with reckless abandon - but they're still cute. Actually, they're so into their chicken that I'm nearly shocked and return to my cool fries.
My chicken is pretty darn tasty. Fresh from the oven, it's blazingly hot and served with a mayonnaise kind of sauce and a green sauce that's a bit spicy. Moist, tender and with a wonderful blend of spices: delicious. It's easily the best Peruvian chicken I've had in Baltimore.
In the end, I didn't chat it up with those two. They weren't my type. I prefer women who tear into their chicken with more reckless abandon than they did.
Maybe next time...
3728 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224