4361 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue, Raleigh
Chicken is typically regarded as a ho-hum weeknight dinner staple, but Viva Chicken’s Pollo a la Brasa, a Peruvian dish of herb-rubbed rotisserie chicken, makes the case for elevating it to a crave-worthy lunch or dinner entree any day of the week. Founded by restaurateurs Randy Garcia and Bruno Macchiavello, Viva Chicken first opened in Charlotte in 2013. The business has grown to eight locations, including six in Charlotte, one in Utah, and now, one in Raleigh, which opened in North Hills on June 13. In addition to its signature herb-roasted bird, cooked in a charcoal-fired oven imported from Lima, the restaurant is known for Peruvian dishes such as arroz chaufa, a fried rice dish that also integrates Chinese influences (a common fusion in Peruvian cuisine), and solterito, a corn-and-fava-bean chopped salad, all designed to transport taste buds to Peru.
Vibe: The high ceilings give the space an open, airy feel, while industrial metal and weathered wood furnishings give it a modern-rustic vibe. The spicy aroma that greets you at the door will make you want to take a bite out of the air before you even order. Viva Chicken is a fast-casual concept, so orders are placed at the counter and then brought to the table, but the staff is attentive. Inside, you’ll find well-spaced two- and four-tops and generous booths. If the weather beckons, grab an outdoor cafe table on the covered patio, sip some sangria, and enjoy the view of the courtyard’s gurgling fountain.
Menu: Viva Chicken is known for its rotisserie chicken, but its menu also includes salads, sandwiches, wraps, and rice bowls. The choice of sides is extensive, including Peruvian staples such as yuca and plantains. Non-carnivores pulling up a seat will find a wide variety of vegetarian options, cutely designated on the menu with a V and a carrot. Rounding out the culinary offerings are a kid’s menu, a trio of desserts, signature juices made in-house daily, and adult libations like wine, beer, and sangria.
Price range: Individual meals range between $5.95 and $12.95. A quarter of white-meat chicken with two sides and a drink makes a meal for just more than $12. Or feed a group with a whole rotisserie chicken and three family-size sides for $23.95.
What to order: First-time diners should follow the when-in-Rome approach and order the signature Pollo a la Brasa. My white-meat quarter-chicken consisted of a juicy and tender breast and wing, the flavor enhanced by a moist, herb-spiced layer under the skin. My order came with a choice of two sides, but I ordered a few extras because all the options sounded tempting. I chose crunchy green beans and cilantro-infused rice. The rice was mildly flavored, making it an ideal canvas for a drizzle of house-made Peruvian pepper sauces with varying degrees of heat: Aji amarillo, a mild yellow sauce, huacatay, a medium green sauce, and roasted rocoto, a hot red sauce. For my extra sides, I opted for yuca, cut into sticks and fried golden-crisp, as well as the standout plantains, which boast charred edges and a soft, sweet interior. Everything on the menu has a Peruvian influence; the Cobb salad, for example, is scattered with Peruvian corn, whose kernels are three times the size of a typical ear.
Perfect for: A quick, casual bite with friends; post-retail-therapy lunch stop; family-friendly dine-in or take-out option.