Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fresas Chicken al Carbon

Fresas Chicken al Carbon is the latest venture from chef Larry McGuire and the Lambert's, Perla's, Elizabeth Street Cafe people. Located in an old coffee house drive through, nee photo processing spot (remember back when we had to take our film to be developed?), just north of Shoal Creek Saloon on Lamar Blvd., between 9th and 10th Streets. They have taken pollo asado (grilled chickens, like at El Pollo Rico) and kicked them up to a new level using chickens from Peeler Farms, where they are pastured raised without meds. The foodie grapevine was reporting good things about Fresas, so it was time to go check it out myself.
Monday lunch, a friend and I headed over. We missed the turn for the drive-thru, but there were a couple parking spots in front for to-go orders. And fortunately, there are some umbrellas for shade and fans for air circulation as you wait. Fresas offers two varieties of grilled chicken, achiote citrus and oregano black pepper. You buy either a half or whole chicken, and both options come with rice, beans, grilled onions, tortillas, and salsa. They also offer tortas, which in this case are sandwiches on bolillo rolls, various sides, and even beer and wine to go. I loved the wood counter at the walk up window.
I got the achiote citrus chicken (half a chicken), as well as a side of the Mexican street corn, and my friend picked the gringa torta, made with chicken salad. As there really isn't a place there to sit and eat, coupled by the fact the temperature was already well into the 90s, we went back to my house to feast. When we unpacked the bag, I was happy to see that nothing is packaged in styrofoam. The chicken, along with grilled onions and jalapenos, is double-wrapped in brown butcher paper. My initial thought when I saw it was that it came out of an Indian tandoori oven, given it's red color, and then realized that was from the achiote. {Achiote paste is made from ground annatto seeds, an ingredient often found in interior Mexican cooking; while it doesn't impart a ton of flavor, the color clearly leaves it's mark!} It smelled heavenly!
What's here on my plate is only a portion of the food! This $14 half chicken meal fed me for three meals. The beans were really nice and creamy, and the rice very fluffy. The corn was extremely good too; you basically get a whole ear that's been cut into three pieces to fit in a to go box. Really my only complaint about the entire meal was with the corn. They didn't remove the corn silks, so you go to take a bite, and there's what looks like black hairs or cat fur staring you down. Oh yeah, and the chicken itself was moist, tender, with a mild orange-citrus flavor. Definitely finger lickin' good!
The torta was really tasty too; the roll is a touch crispy on the outside, but soft inside. The chicken salad was very fresh, as were the radishes and sprouts. Fresas is also making ice cream, available by the pint. Our summertime weather is not always conducive to transporting ice cream, so it would be great to see some Mexican-inspired cookies available, or heck, even a brownie! Just a touch of something sweet to finish off this lovely meal. I can't wait to go back and try the other chicken!

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