Hillman City, a historic ’hood you’ve probably never heard of — about 300 yards south of Columbia City — gets much traffic on weekends now thanks to a dude who opened a Peruvian chicken shack in September.
Big Chickie is a small counter with dozens of golden birds spinning on the rotisseries. Owner Matt Stubbs got the charcoal-fueled oven from Peru to give his chicken that open-flame aroma.
Big Chickie draws lines of working folks bringing home dinner on Friday evenings. On Saturday nights, many families with impatient kids wait for a table.
Suddenly, at least on weekends, a small, forgotten enclave seems to come alive.
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The menu: You see its name and you know to order chicken, right? Because if you’re a vegetarian, your consolation prize here is rice and beans. The simple menu features chicken and a choice of seven sides, along with cornbread muffins and two sauces.
The chicken, your standard fryer, is marinated overnight in 15 herbs and spices, and lime. A whole chicken with two sides, four cornbread muffins and sauces range from $22.49 to $25.99, depending on portion size of the sides.
Or order a half chicken with two sides ($12.56-$15.79), or just dark ($7.95) or white meat ($8.86).
Sides options include steak fries, coleslaw, cheesy potato gratin, corn salad, kale slaw, lime-glazed sweet potatoes, yellow rice and black beans. Sauces are mustard-mayo mix and jalapeño-lime, with more coming.
What to write home about: The citrusy, dark meat was succulent and even better with the charred skin on, a sweet and herbaceous bite. There’s a starchy, cheesy potato gratin that’s popular with the kids and a healthier side of kale slaw for adults.
What to skip: The breast meat can be a bit bland, which is where the citrusy, jalapeño sauce comes in handy.
The setting: The shack is more designed for carryout orders, though there are a dozen Ikea-like tables and red folding chairs under a corrugated roof in the parking lot.
Summing up: A whole bird with two large sides, four cornbread muffins and the sauces totaled $25.75, enough to feed two.