It’s affordable and excellent, and, yes, the name is a “Breaking Bad” reference.
The warning came as soon as we got our menus: “We’re out of the chicken.” The rush after a Seahawks game had cleaned Los Pollos Hermanos out of its signature specialty, Pollos a la Brasa.
The Peruvian chicken is a dish that even non-chicken fans can love, a moist, spice-rubbed, four-pound bird with a flavor that permeates throughout the meat rather than being restricted to the skin. It’s roasted here in a charcoal rotisserie oven brought over from Peru, and served with a heaping one-pound plate of toasty fries and a platter of shredded iceberg salad. On our next visit, it was enough to stuff two people and provide two cartons of leftovers.
It’s a testament to the food’s quality that a sold-out crowd has discovered the Peruvian/Mexican restaurant, hidden away as the sit-down half of a no-frills strip-mall grocery store specializing in Mexican and South American products. On slow days, the same guy who can arrange a wire transfer or ring up your dried rose petals might take your order — and that could well be Brian Temperly, who was a chef at Nordstrom for seven years (and previously worked for Portland’s Pacific Coast Restaurants) before entering this business (the Peruvian focus comes from his wife, Rosa Temperly, who is from Lima).
Los Pollos Hermanos
Latin American restaurant/convenience store
15009 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline; open noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Sunday, closed Monday; lphshoreline.com
You’re in good hands when he sets down three squeeze bottles of colorful fresh sauces (yes, made by him and his wife, he’ll tell you if pressed); or when you bite into anticuchos, skewers of marinated grilled beef heart; or crisp yucca fries served with a creamy dipping sauce made with queso fresco and yellow chili peppers. Except for the $1.99 tacos, many dishes we tried could have been swapped into a high-priced dining room without a blink. Enjoy the chance to eat so affordably and unpretentiously here instead.
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The menu: A mix of Peruvian and other South American specialties with some Mexican dishes thrown in. That gives you tamales and posole along with ceviche and causas (a circular stack of cold, seasoned mashed potatoes stuffed with tuna or chicken).
Don’t miss: Chicken and anticuchos were the stars.
What to skip: Brilliantly colored chicha morada, a sweet cinnamon-scented drink made from purple corn, is an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired.
Prices: Pollos a la Brasa ($24.99 for a whole chicken, $9.99 for a quarter); anticuchos ($7.99), causas ($7.99), Yuca a la Huancaina ($5.99).
A tip: Call ahead and the chef will save you a chicken.
Nice touch: A little cup of complimentary fried plantain chips when you sit down.
Tread lightly: Yeah, the name is a “Breaking Bad” reference. (The idea came from Temperly’s stepson.)
Extra bonus: It’s a restaurant, it’s a convenience store, it’s a … panaderia? Look in the grocery section for a case of pastries from Renton-based Surtidora’s Bakery.