It’s really hard to specialize in chicken, seafood and beef, but El Pollo Inka Peru does a deliciously good job in all three food groups, despite its poultry-infused name.
Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken that melts in your mouth is the big draw here and the green Huacatay sauce that goes with it really makes the flavor sizzle. Add rice and tostones (fried plantain bits), and patrons from any continent would be in gastronomic Heaven.
There are three combo specials featuring fowl. For $18, the diner can enjoy a whole chicken, salad, French fries and rice. For $4 more, the patron can fill his or her belly with one whole bird, rice, a maduro (sweet plantain), salad and salchipapas, French fries with sliced hot dogs. The most expensive combo costs $25 and includes one whole hen, salad, salchipapas, rice and beans and tostones.
One of the national dishes in Peru is ceviche, and Pollo Inka has two versions: Ceviche de Pescado ($13), diced fish marinated in lemon juice and hot peppers; and Ceviche Mixto ($14), diced fish and seafood (looks like squid and shrimp are in the mix) marinated in lemon juice and hot pepper.
The saltwater options continue with Corvina Frita ($14), fried fish served with rice, French fries and onions; Arroz Chaufa de Mariscos ($15), a Peruvian-spiced seafood fried rice; Tallarines Verdes con Corvina ($14), spaghetti in basil and Spanish cheese sauce with fish fillet. (The Bites Nearby column is pretty sure that the generic “fish” on the menu is tilapia.)
This storefront eatery also serves one of the borough’s best Lomo Saltado ($12), sautéed strings of beef or chicken with onions, tomatoes, rice and French fries. For the adventurous foodie, there’s the Anticuchos, a $7 appetizer described as “diced cow’s heart on a stick.” It appears to be marinated in vinegar, garlic and aji pepper.
The Choclo con Queso ($6), basically corn with cheese, is worth a try. Arguably the “Most Peruvian” dish is the Papas a la Huancaina ($6), sliced baked potatoes with a spicy sauce and melted cheese. Another typical item is the Causa Rellena de Atun ($6), spiced mashed potatoes stuffed with tuna and served chilled.
The restaurant features dark mustard walls adorned with classical paintings. The tables and chairs seem prefab, with white table paper and flatware. Things are tight and the noise level rises on a crowded night, but the high ceiling airs thing out a bit. And importantly, Pollo Inka seems to have a crew of regulars, attesting to good quality at reasonable prices.
To avoid alcohol, stay native and quench your thirst, order the Chicha Morada ($2), a refreshing beverage made from purple corn boiled with
pineapple rinds and mixed with cinnamon and clove, or the Inca Kola ($2), a golden soft drink whose secret ingredient might be lemon verbena or lemon grass. The result is a fruity, bubblegum flavor.
For dessert, the Flan costs $4, but please consider the Alfajor ($2), which is a confection traditionally made with flour, honey, almonds and spices such as cinnamon.
Address: 112-20 Queens Boulevard.
Prices: Expect to spend more than $20 per person.
Special: Home delivery, but many patrons complain that service is slow (over 30 minutes from phone call to front door).