I don’t know about the rest of you, but after the Thanksgiving cook-a-thon, I hang up my apron for the season. Don’t call it a strike. Call it “quiet quitting.” Most of us can survive on December’s long parade of charcuterie plates, Christmas cookies and eggnog (full of protein!). When those aren’t available, I say the magic word: takeout. But there are only so many pizzas, tacos and Santa-shaped cookies that even my family can eat. So, in December we file away the tried and true menus and seek out new takeout spots. It’s like an advent calendar that comes with a side of fries.
Based on its enthusiastic fan base on my food-focused social media, I had been looking forward to trying Spinz Pollo a la Brasa, a takeout-only Peruvian chicken spot in Mountain View. For the last year or so, I’ve been tempted and haunted by photos of gleaming, beautifully browned rotisserie chickens served up with an array of unique and appetizing sides.
I seized the all-too-short window between snowpocalypses and headed downtown to pick up dinner for the family.
I was impressed by the simple and comprehensive online ordering system that allows you to schedule your order well in advance. And I assigned immediate bonus points for the option to have your order delivered to your car. As snowy conditions yield to single digits, this is a crucial perk.
Spinz is a small space but the interior’s aroma packs a big punch. The heady combination of savory smoke and spice might make you wish they had a dining area. Delayed gratification has never been my strong suit. Pro-tip: If you have a long drive home, put the food in your trunk. I did not take my own advice and the drive was more tortuous than necessary.
I got home to a hungry crew who barely let me move the food from containers to plates. I had ordered a whole chicken, which comes with a choice of two large regular sides and two sauces ($35). I opted for steak fries (the traditional accompaniment to this dish) and the agave lime coleslaw. I also added large orders of arroz chaufa and arepitas ($8 each if ordered a la carte). As for sauces, be warned, the portions are small. You will definitely want to order extra ($1 each).
The chicken fulfilled its promise. Marinated for 12 hours in an herbaceous brine and slow cooked over special wood charcoal, it is full of flavor. Beautifully seasoned with a subtle earthy undercurrent of cumin in each bite, the flavor, unlike many rotisserie chickens, isn’t limited to the skin; it is permeated throughout. So, while I may have gotten more than my share of the best slices (on the principle that he who picks up the chicken gets to carve), the death stares from the rest of my family were short-lived. Every comforting bite is delicious. I should add that a whole chicken was way more than enough for three and provided leftovers for chicken sandwiches later that week.
I made a rookie mistake with the sauces. I ordered a variety — salsa verde, aji amarillo, rocoto pepper and the creamy salsa blanca. They come unmarked and after dipping and eating, I realized I didn’t know really know which was which. However, I still have opinions! The first is that the chicken is so steeped in flavor that it doesn’t really need much accessorizing. The second is that the sauces are all delicious though I would have loved to find more acid in the salsa aji verde (the one I could still identify).
The french fries are thick cut and lean toward tender, rather than crisp, and didn’t hold up that well during the longish drive home. But they perked up nicely after a minute or two in the air fryer, which was worth the effort if you want to take advantage of the numerous sauces Spinz offers. The coleslaw was not exactly a disappointment, but its name promised more than it delivered. There’s not a thing wrong with your basic picnic table slaw, but I was looking for a bright pop of lime and didn’t really find it. I dressed it up with a hit of lemon juice, but I’m not sure I’d order it again when so many more intriguing sides are on offer.
The arroz chaufa (fried rice) was a hit. With a fairly traditional Asian flavor profile including soy, sesame and ginger, it is generously studded with shreds of the slow-cooked brasa chicken, which add a smoky depth. A comforting dish, it was hearty without feeling heavy.
We fought over the arepitas (cornmeal fritters). Which, honestly, should not have been a thing because there were three diners and six arepitas. As a family, we take our fritters (but apparently not math) seriously. These little bites are perfectly crispy and deep brown on the outside with a cakey, tender interior. The texture is uniform, not kernel-y, like the state fair version, and the flavor is gently sweet. An assertive dash of salt and a side of salsa aji verde kept them from veering too far into the dessert category.
Pollo a la brasa is the national dish of Peru (it’s said that the typical Peruvian eats it up to three times a month) and it has its own national holiday (the third Sunday in July, in case you want to do your shopping early). In my household, I’m declaring pollo a la brasa to be the official meal of any day I don’t feel like cooking.
Spinz Pollo a la Brasa
If you go:
3024 Mountain View Drive Suite 108
Anchorage, Alaska 99501 907-277-7469
Wednesday through Saturday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday: 11:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.