Latin-accented takes on rotisserie-style chicken to feed the family.
Our default take-out supper is pizza. Isn’t everyone’s? After all, no matter where you live in the Portland area, there’s probably a pizza place nearby (and if not, my kids recommend the delivery service from homegrown Hot Lips. My son once opened the door to their delivery guy and said, with a happy sigh, “This is the BEST FOOD EVER.” The delivery guy was so moved he gave Ben a coupon for a free slice on the spot.)
But not even Ben can pull off pizza more than once a week. And so, on a recent weeknight when I needed a break from cooking, we settled instead on a meal of take-out chicken from a new player on the block: Chicken and Guns, just opened in Portland’s OG food cart pod, Cartopia, at SE 12th and Hawthorne.
(Disclaimer: Picking up a chicken for dinner is not so very new. Supermarkets around town, from New Seasons to Safeway, have long offered tasty versions of roast chickens that can be grabbed on the go for nights when there isn’t.
t time to cook. But the offerings at the new poultry-centric purveyors that have opened around town in the last year or so head south of the border.)
With a name like Chicken and Guns, we might have expected fried chicken and sides of grits and biscuits. Instead, the Latin-style spiced chicken is grilled over a wood flame and then helpfully hacked into pieces (useful when your son is angling for a leg and your daughter is reaching for a wing and no one wants to wait for their piece) and garnished with aji sauce, a Peruvian staple with lime, cilantro and garlic.
The chicken was juicy and flavorful, a nice accomplishment given that grilled chicken, even the homemade kind, dries out easily. The spicing was sneaky, building as we ate and the kids started asking for extra milk to wash it down pretty quickly. The real hit for them was the fried potatoes that accompanied the meal, drizzled with Argentinian chimichurri sauce and perhaps slightly over salted, at least for my taste. (Ben said: “This tastes just like a potato chip! It’s GREAT!”) I preferred the side salad, which is tossed with in-season vegetables — when we tried it, that meant thinly sliced golden beets and juicy pops of pomegranate seeds.
The meal easily fed us all, with leftovers, for $25. It might not replace pizza, but it’s definitely enough to get chicken a regular spot on our rotation.
Chicken and Guns, 1207 SE Hawthorne, 503-234-7236, chickenandguns.com. Open everyday, 11:30 am-midnight.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
Portland’s home to a number of restaurants where you can pick up (or eat in) chicken with all the Latin-inspired fixings.
Pollo Norte: This NE Portland newcomer is so popular that they sometimes sell out of their chicken, so call ahead. Their chicken is $24 for a whole chicken with two sides; it comes seasoned with achiote, sea salt, lime and chile, and sides include black beans, pinto beans and Mexican-style rice. pollonorte.com
El Inka: Greshamites knew all about this particular trend long before it hit Portland. El Inka has been serving up Peruvian-style rotisserie for years in the burbs; here, sides include fried bananas or plantains. elinkarestaurant.com
And coming this year, watch for local superstar chef John Gorham’s take on the trend, Pollo Bravo, serving up Spanish/Mexican inspired chicken and set to open at the new Pine Street Market near the foot of the Burnside Bridge downtown.