Huacatay

If you happen to be walking down 4th Street NE, you can just follow your nose to Huacatay. Seriously, you can smell their chicken roasting from several blocks away, even on a stagnant, rainy night like tonight. You’ll know it’s Huacatay making that yummy smell because you can be sure it’s not any of the sketchballs liquor stores that flank it on all sides.

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I’ll just jump right in here. I hope you like eating chicken like a caveman and getting grease all over your face while you suck juicy meat from the bones because that is exactly what you are going to do here. It’s a good thing we did take-out because nobody deserves to see me eating like that.

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A quarter-chicken meal looks like this:

Yeah. Those green beans are considered a “side.” They are onion-y and peppered, and juuuuuust greasy enough. Don’t worry, the grease isn’t enough to keep you from feeling self-righteous eating vegetables while your significant other ingests an unholy amount of mayonnaise and fried stuff. The side salad is what it is. I added my own dressing at home because I’m pretty sure Huacatay’s dressing is just straight-up mayo.

A half-chicken meal looks like this:

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That is…definitely half of a chicken. The coleslaw side is made to please that person who keeps packets of mayo in their desk drawer. The arroz chaufa is a fantastic salt-bomb (read: exactly the way fried rice is supposed to be, if you’re into that sort of thing). My third-favorite thing about Huacatay is the variety of sides they offer, not just your typical soggy steak-fries that you can find at every other Peruvian pollo joint. My second-favorite thing is their sauces. They offer four: white, green, pink, and yellow. Yellow is great if you want a kick of spice. Green is cilantro-y. White is, I’m pretty sure, just plain mayo again. Pink is a happy medium.

My first-favorite thing about Huacatay is the chicken. I don’t know what they baste the bird with besides magic butter. Is it salty? Definitely. But it has a perfect crisp on the outside while the meat on the inside is insanely juicy.

I almost forgot the alfajor! Sweet but not too sweet, perfectly crumbly in a way I can never capture in my own cookies, and maybe just not quite enough dulce de leche inside. There are few better ways to cap off your dinner than this.

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Price: $12 per person.

Bottom line: In DC, a land saturated with Peruvian chicken restaurants, Huacatay goes beyond with not only their chicken, but also their delicious sides. I know you’ve had pollo a la brasa before, but Huacatay is still worth a detour.

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