I finally went to the place that started the craze for Peruvian rotisserie chicken, “pollo a la brasa” — La Granja Azul, out in Ate (over an hour outside Miraflores). In the Washington, DC, area, I had been to both El Pollo Rico and Edy’s Chicken (this one preferred by my Peruvian friends for the lucuma ice cream and fried yucca, and actually owned by a Thai lady), so it was fun to go to the source.
Granja Azul is a “country” restaurant, a type of restaurant that includes a play area for children and a gift shop. It’s a large rambling restaurant with heavy colonial style furniture and interiors. There is a courtyard that fits many extended family lunches. The menu includes the standard 80 sol all-you-can -eat menu of pullet/poulet (young chicken), fries, salad (iceberg in one bowl, tomatoes in another, and onions in a third), bread, butter, anticuchos (beef heart on a stick), chili sauce, and a small pitcher of mayonnaise (yes, you read that right). The picarones (Peruvian doughnuts) are not included in the menu.
The chickens are on long spits rotating in a large oven and the chicken turner is happy to pose the chickens for a photo op.
The fries are delicious. I think. I may have been influenced by the 1.5 hour drive and hunger. The chickens are crispy and dry. Who can eat more than one?
I went on a day looking for sun. There was none. But I did enjoy the gift shop. And going to the pollo a la brasa source! From Ate (what a fun name!) to the world!
Recently, some of my Bangladeshi friends visited the U.S… which made me think about iconic American foods to make them try while visiting D.C. The following are some of my recommendations.
1. Krispy Kreme: Who does not love a freshly fried yeast doughnut, hot and fresh from a sugar glaze waterfall?
2. Five Guys and Shake Shack: The last decade has seen the rise of the new hamburger restaurant which makes me happy. Freshly made with fresh French fries – it sounds simple but we, the consumers, put up with so much less for too long. Five Guys is a nationwide chain that started a few miles from D.C. and if you have peanut allergies, you must stay away…
3. All-American classic restaurants and bars: These are classic modern restaurants and bars in the “old boys’ club” style of dark wood, etc. — The Hamilton, The Lincoln, and also Old Ebbitt Grill, the Willard, and Ray’s the Steaks.
4. Ben’s Chili Bowl: Visitors like this historic place which has recently become a chain and it will soon be opening a branch at National Airport.
5. Honey Pig (noisy Korean BBQ restaurant), To Sok Jib (hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant), and Bon Chon Chicken: Annandale, Virginia is a well known Korea-town but Bon Chon has just opened a branch in Clarendon. There is also Lighthouse Tofu which serves more than tofu and Oegadgib which serves all-you-can-eat Korean including shabu-shabu (shabu-shabu are the words you should say to time how long you swish your meat in the broth to cook it.).
6. Pho soup: Eden Center is a little Vietnam in Falls Church, Virginia, where the restaurants serve pho and other Vietnamese food.
7. Ravi Kabob: It’s a northern South Asian/Pakistani place that is “hole-in-the-wall” and serves delicious food. The most famous local chain is Moby Dick’s.
8. Edy’s Chicken or El Pollo Rico: It’s Peruvian style rotisserie chicken. Anthony Bourdain went to El Pollo Rico but I like that Edy’s serves yucca fries. There are also several other Peruvian style restaurants in the area where you can explore some of this world famous cuisine, although I’m still waiting for the celebrity chef level restaurants to open.
9. Ramen shops: This is a fairly new trend in American food, thanks in part to David Chang of Momofuku, and I like the trend. Yummy, homemade soup. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is.
10. El Salvadorean food: Try a fresh pupusa as the El Salvadorean population begins to emerge on the culinary scene (there are not that many Mexican places in this area but Jugalita is authentic).
Of course there are also many Ethiopian restaurants to try and loads of food carts serving all manner of new American foods (Korean kalbi taco, anyone?). Every new group of immigrants contributes a new flavor to American cuisine.
When tourists visit the U.S., many want to try Chipotle and other famous restaurants. I recommend using Yelp to find the locations. Speaking of American foods, there is, of course, pie, lobster, grits, collard greens, chicken and waffles, barbecue, etc. to be had here in D.C., but, maybe I’ll write about that another time. And not to forget, I’ve done some research and it looks like there is only one Colombian restaurant in the area… y claro, por supuesto, voy a visitarlo.