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Oct 22, 2003 02:34 PM

pollo a carbon in redwood city

  • m

Recently two produce/meat markets have started grilling chicken over charcol out in front of the store. The chicken is butterflied, marinated and then grilled to perfection. One order is a whole chicken cut-up, salsa and tortillas. This is the best barbecued chicken I can remember having. One place is on El Camino Real right down from Target. The other is at the tip of a triangle between middlefield road and a short road that leads to fifth avenue. Look for the billowing smoke. Highly recommend it. I have been buying a chicken a week. One dinner and two lunches. Chicken is excellent hot and cold.

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  1. Very interesting - are they doing this every day or only on the weekends? Prices?

    1 Reply
    1. re: RWCFoodie

      i initially thought it was a weekend thing but I have now seen them out there on most days. definetely on the weekend. on friday at dinner time at the one on Middlefield there is a long wait for chicken as it takes a while to cook so people (almost all Mexican) stand around in the smoke and dirt and wait, not a must experience. The price is under $9.00. each place has a slightly different price.

    2. Mary, thanks for reporting in! To weekends ago we spotted the one at the tip of the triangle (that's exactly how I committed it to memory) and I was wondering if it was good. Yes, there's lots of smoke. It seemed quite popular from the number of cars around there on Saturday. Wish I could remember the name of the market.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I don't remember name but it is distinctive looking as it used to be a gas station and is painted mediterraean blue. when you go consult with the barbecuer as to whether anything is ready ("listo") as they will sell you one inside and then you have to wait until one is done.

      2. Very tasty - I and two coworkers shared a chicken for lunch, and there was enough left over that we probably could have fed four people. The chicken is quite juicy and tender, with a great crispy skin. As mentioned, it's $9.00 for a chicken (grilled butterflied, then chopped up and wrapped in foil when ordered), tortillas, and salsa. We'll almost certainly be back - it's walking distance from our office.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Marcelory

          Did you catch the name of the market?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Here's the scoop on the name and address of one of the chicken places - I went exploring today with my friend Wendy (who gives me courage) - the name of the market is Michoacan Produce Market, 3380 Middlefield Rd, Menlo Park, 650-368-9226. We had stopped at Chavez Market (for carnitas, salsa, and house made dry chorizo)and then followed the aroma of charcoal around the corner - there they were - two kindly senior citizen types grilling chickens on two huge grills. My Spanish is very limited as was their English but another customer helped by interpreting! Here's what I found out: They are there every day from 7 am till 8 pm (This sounds impossible...) A man delivers the chickens in the morning and they start cooking. You go inside and pay, receive 7 corn tortillas and a pint of a thin, tomatoey puree type of salsa. The cashier gives you a receipt marked "pollo" which you take back out to the folks at the grill. They take your receipt and package up your chicken. We took our goodies home and chowed down - the chicken was very tasty especially with the addition of a generous squeeze of fresh lime! As I've been shopping in this area for years and never seen chicken being grilled like this, I asked how long they've been there and the lady said only about 3 weeks!

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              Thanks for the chow-connaisance, Karen! I checked Yahoo maps and that's the place my brother and I spotted/smelled two weeks ago. Only open three weeks, wow. In Santa Rosa, we can go to Quezada market to get them. They call them pollo asado, rather than polla a carbon. As you discovered, the chicken is especiallly good with the fresh lime.


              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thanks for the map Melanie! I've tried to describe where this place is to several people. I never found a street sign that said Semicircular Drive but I guess it's there someplace! I wanted to mention also how delicious the carnitas and dry chorizo was from Chavez Meat Market. Just luscious. Yesterday, at a birthday party for one of our grandchildren, I got into a conversation with another guest-a Mexican relative of our son-in-law's. She told me that Chavez chorizo is one of the best available! I was so happy to have found a "keeper". Tonight we're finishing the chicken. What a great buy! Thanks again to the original poster....

                1. re: RWCFoodie

                  Thank you for the tip on Chavez meat market. I am on Middlefield a lot and love to impress my son with new finds. I recently found tacos Gullo, not the truck but the actual place where they have the best tacos i have had on middlefield and excellent sopes. it is on spring street so you go down fifth avenue to srping and turn left and keep going until you see the hot pink building of tacos al grullo.

                  1. re:

                    That sounds really good too. Which meats did you try on your tacos?

                    Here's the closest listing I could find - is this the place?

                    Tacos El Grullo
                    (650) 363-2597
                    2798 Spring St
                    Redwood City, CA 94063

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      i had carne asada, chorizo and al pastor. i did try the more adverturous ones like brains. i am a carne asada fan so that was probably my favorite. the address looks right. building is bright pink.

                      1. re: mary

                        Excellent, Mary, please keep the tips coming. There's buried treasure to be found in that stretch of Middlefield, I'm sure.

                        Let us know when you catch the name of the first grocer grilling chickens on El Camino near Target.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          The other day we saw the grill outside of the Carniceria Michoacan on El Camino about a block south of Target but it wasn't fired up. Two more trips past there in the last couple of days and no sign of the grill so I don't know what's up. Couldn't find any place to park today but will try again and report back when I find out what's up there...

                          1. re: RWCFoodie

                            You're obviously the right girl for the job! Keep us posted on what you find.

                            1. re: RWCFoodie

                              I think the guy next to target is a weekend griller. parking in the rear, also easy stroll from target lot.

                2. re: RWCFoodie

                  They have several kinds of salsa. i like the salsa fresca the best which i believe the cashier refers to as cut salsa. heat the tortillas in a hot skillet with just a little corn oil and fill with chicken and salsa, yummy.

            2. Is this place still around? It sounds amazing! If not, or even if so, are there other places in the area that do a good pollo al carbon?

              Also, is there a place that does a oaxacan style grilled fish? I think that's what it is. I had it in mexico many years ago and it was a mackeral filled and seasoned and then grilled. They gave you some tortillas and sauces and it was unbelievably good.

              5 Replies
              1. re: FattyDumplin

                A couple of places were mentioned. Which one?

                1. re: FattyDumplin

                  Michoacan Produce Market is still kicking. they even have this thread quoted on their website!

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    was talking about michoacan PM, so great to hear. I'm very excited.

                    I was at Tacos los Gemelos for lunch and happened to notice. Gemelos, by my opinion, is one of the best taco shops i've tried in the area. The lengua was tender with chew, the tripas were nice and crispy, and the barbacoa and birria had great flavor and texture. Oh yeah, and handmade fresh tortillas. What a difference that makes!

                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                      Made it to Mihoacan yesterday. It's too bad they a) have the chickens in a steamer after they're done cooking and b) don't have seating there, otherwise, the chicken would be amazingly good with the crispy skin.

                      That being said for $16 you get a thick stack of tortillas, a chicken, salsa, beans and rice. Not exceedingly cheap but very reasonable. Skin was somewhat crisp still. The meat is so juicy and well-brined - not a huge ton of seasoning, but the saltiness is great. I ate the entire breast, which I never do because it was perfectly cooked and moist. The wing, which was the juiciest, was possibly one of the best I've ever had.

                      Great find and will definitely be a part of my lunch rotation.

                  2. re: FattyDumplin

                    There are a bunch of pollo al carbon. There's one on Willow Rd near 101 - to the east - as well. I don't know the name.