Thursday, August 8, 2013

Viva Chicken - Elizabeth

A few nights ago, BFTB and I finally made our way over to Elizabeth Ave. to check out Viva Chicken, "a quick serve restaurant focusing on Peruvian rotisserie chicken." In addition to specializing in pollo a la brasa (which is made from all natural, free range chicken), Viva Chicken offers a number of other Peruvian-inspired dishes, including sandwiches, wraps, tacu bowls, and Asian-influenced stir fry. 

We walked in and the first thing I noticed was the restaurant's uber-modern appearance. I guess I expected to find typical south of the border-style decor, but instead I was surrounded with sleek fixtures and high tech electronics. At first we were a little confused by what to do, but the friendly employee at the register called us over and directed our attention to the menu, which was displayed on a large, flat-screen TV hanging above the register. Almost immediately, BFTB settled on ordering the 1/4 chicken (all white meat) with a side of green beans and a side salad. I waffled between the Wow Lomito Sandwich (marinated stir-fried sirloin, mild aji pepper, onion, and tomato on grilled artisan ciabatta bread) and The Great Sandwich (pulled rotisserie chicken, onions, tomato, lettuce, and smoked rocoto mayo on grilled artisan ciabatta bread), but eventually settled on the Wow Lomito with provolone cheese and a side of plantains. It was a weeknight, so I decided to be lame and stick with water to drink, but Viva Chicken does offer a good selection of beer, wine, and Pepsi products, as well as traditional Peruvian sodas and juices. I can't wait to try either the housemade sangria or the herbal lemonade (or maybe both...) on my next visit.

After we filled our cups at the soda fountain, BFTB and I made our way outside to grab a table and wait for our food. The patio at Viva Chicken is shaded by a wooden enclosure and lined with potted plants and flowers, creating a relaxing oasis in what would otherwise look like an ordinary gravel parking lot. I didn't expect to enjoy the ambiance so much at a quick serve restaurant, but I could definitely see myself hanging out on the patio during nice weather. 

Wow Lomito Sandwich and side of plantains

Within a few minutes, a runner brought out our dishes and we dug in. Once I took my first bite of plantain, I fell in love. Recently I wrote about the delicious plantains at Cantina 1511. Forget what I wrote -these plantains blew those guys out of the water. Fried to perfection, each thick-cut piece was crispy and delicious while remaining surprisingly non-greasy. My sandwich was equally tasty, especially when dunked in the accompanying Aji Amarillo sauce. Tender, beautifully-seasoned strips of meat were topped with melty cheese, crisp lettuce, and thin slices of red onion, and tomato. I was a little confused by the lack of pepper since it had been listed in the description, but the sandwich didn't taste like it was missing anything. Even the bread was good -light and fluffy on the inside while toasted and crunchy on the outside.

1/4 white meat chicken with side salad and green beans

BFTB's chicken was savory, juicy, and chock-full of herbs and spices, but my sandwich definitely won the "best meal" award. The accompanying sauces were equally great. While I preferred the minty, herbal taste of the Huacatay (and ended up stealing a lot of it to drizzle on my sandwich), BFTB predictably favored the much spicier, smoky Roasted Rocoto Sauce. BFTB's sides were the only let-down of the night. His salad consisted of a relatively lame mix of chopped Romaine lettuce garnished with Feta and tomato, and served with a container-full of balsamic vinaigrette dressing (which he passed on in favor of a drizzle of Rocoto). The green beans were disappointingly mushy and flavorless, but were somewhat tasty when dunked in one of the three sauces.

Regardless of BFTB's lackluster side items, we were both incredibly pleased with our meals as a whole. I honestly cannot wait to return to Viva Chicken and try some of the other tasty-sounding selections, including the Quinoa Stuffed Avocado and the Famous Huancaina. In my book, Viva Chicken gets a strong 8.75/10.

Viva Chicken on Urbanspoon


  1. I need to try this place! To compare you should try Pio Pio on east blvd and order #1 with white meat and tostones! It's one of my favorite meals in Charlotte.

  2. While I've eaten at Pio Pio before, somehow I haven't actually eaten their rotisserie chicken (I'm almost ashamed to write that...). I'll definitely need to give it a shot! Thanks!