Food & Drink

Taste This

Ranbir Bakhshi, the owner of Mami Nora's, is not a native of Peru. Nora Palmer, Bakhshi's mother and the restaurant's namesake (she's the spry woman shuttling in and out of the kitchen), was born in El Salvador. But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the local Peruvian community has bestowed honorary citizenship on them both. The Peruvian style rotisserie-roasted chicken they serve at Mami Nora's is that good.

The chicken starts with a marinade of at least 24 hours -- and, according to Palmer, usually 48 hours -- in lemon juice, sugar, salt and a secret blend of 12 herbs and spices brought in from Peru. The birds are then roasted on a hardwood coal-burning rotisserie, also imported from Peru. The result is moist, subtly smoky chicken with a glistening mahogany-colored skin whose flavor is an indescribably complex dance of sweet and savory.

Quarter, half and whole chickens are all served with your choice of two sides. I'll confess that I haven't yet been able to narrow my list of must-have sides down any further than three: crispy yuca fries, soupy black beans, and candy-sweet fried plantains. I've worked out a solution, though. I just order a whole chicken for takeout and add an extra side. While I'm at it, throw in a few of those addictive house-made caramel cookies that Mami Nora Palmer bakes and sets out temptingly by the cash register. I'm out the door with dinner for four for under 20 bucks. And everybody is happy.