Big Flavors at Big Chickie
Hillman City, a historic ’hood you’ve probably never heard of — about 300 yards south of Columbia City — gets much traffic on weekends now thanks to a dude who opened a Peruvian chicken shack in September.
Big Chickie is a small counter with dozens of golden birds spinning on the rotisseries. Owner Matt Stubbs got the charcoal-fueled oven from Peru to give his chicken that distinctive open-flame aroma.
Sitting in a short commercial strip, Big Chickie draws lines of working folks bringing home dinner on Friday evenings. On Saturday nights, many families with impatient kids wait for a table.
Suddenly, at least on weekends, a small, forgotten ’hood seems to come alive.
The menu: You see its name and you know to order chicken, right? Because if you’re a vegetarian, your consolation prize here is rice and beans. The short and simple menu features chicken and your choice of seven sides, along with cornbread muffins and two sauces.
The chicken, your standard fryer, is marinated overnight in 15 different herbs and spices and lime. A whole chicken with two sides, four cornbread and sauces range from $22.49 to $25.99, depending on portion size of the side orders.
Or order a half chicken with two sides ($12.56-$15.79), or just dark ($7.95) or white meat ($8.86).
Sides options include steak fries, coleslaw, cheesy potato gratin, corn salad, kale slaw, lime-glazed sweet potatoes, yellow rice and black beans. Sauces are mustard-mayo mix and jalapeño-lime, though more options will be available soon.
What to write home about:
The citrusy, dark meat was succulent and even better with the charred skin on, a sweet and herbaceous bite. There’s a starchy, cheesy potato gratin that’s popular with the kids and a healthier side of kale slaw for adults. But mostly, the sides are unremarkable.
What to skip: The breast meat can be a bit bland, which is where the citrusy, jalapeño sauce comes in handy.
The setting: The shack is more designed for carryout orders, though there are a dozen Ikea-like tables and red folding chairs under a corrugated roof in the parking lot. What this will be like during the winter is anyone’s guess. The dining area is draped with vinyl curtains and the owner plans to install heaters.
Summing up: A whole bird with two large sides, four cornbread muffins and the sauces totaled $25.75, enough to feed two.