Pollos & Jarras: Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken Downtown

In February of this year, chef Juan Chipoco and his sous chef Luis Hoyos of CVI.CHE 105 opened a Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant right next door on NE 3rd Avenue in downtown Miami. Pollos & Jarras by Juan Chipoco is the (full) name of the two-level, 6,000 square-foot venue. The moniker translates to "chicken and pitchers." Somehow it sounds a whole lot better in Spanish.

The chickens are, according to the website, organic. A quarter of one, with salad and fries, is $7.95. Half a chicken is $11.95, a whole goes for $17.95. The birds are marinated quite a while in 19 herbs and spices, and the result is tasty. The one I tried was moist, too. I had ordered a side of rice with choclo (large Peruvian corn kernels) to to along, which the waiter somehow decided would be a substitute for the salad. Service is not a strong point here.

Diners are started off with a quartet of Peruvian dips -- two piquant, two not. About 30 minutes later we were brought something to use the dips on -- food. Not sure why our order took so long, as altogether it was a quarter chicken, two rice dishes, and a rotisserie chicken sandwich.

The chicken sandwich is called El Sanguchón de Corzo, and includes (besides the chicken) lettuce, tomato, and avocado on crunchy house-baked baguette. What the menu describes as "delicious vinaigrette sauce" on the chicken turned out to be mayonnaise, but it's a pleasing and filling sandwich for $9.95 (and that price includes crisp fries).

The extensive menu likewise features all sorts of grilled skirt steaks ($19.95 to $21.95), anticucho ($9.95), rocoto chicken wings (8 for $8.95), "Aunt Paula's" chicken gizzards ($11.95), salads and tapas -- along with a section devoted to fried potato or yucca sticks with assorted toppings (for instance,choripapa brings grilled chorizo over potatoes; choriyuca features the same but with yucca). We were brought small cups of aguadito de pollo, a cilantro-based soup stocked with peas, carrots, rice, bits of rotisserie chicken, and a slight kick of aji pepper. A bowl of this hangover-cure is $8.95.

Interestingly, no pre-dinner bread was served, nor any with the soup.Just dips.

Among a la carte sides, I liked the Northern Peru Lambayeque-style rice, greened with cilantro and flecked with carrots and choclo ($3.95).

Peruvian desserts ($5.95 to $6.95) are homemade and quite good. Dulce rocio is a light, spongy cake with dulce ce leche and peaches, covered in whipped cream. Mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) is cobbled with rice pudding for another alluring treat.

Verdict: Tasty chicken, excellent sandwiches at good value, distinctive desserts, cool ambiance. Other than its slow and at times neglectful service, Pollos & Jarras is a pretty good spot for downtown lunch.

Open for lunch and dinner daily.

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