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Who makes a really outstanding roast (or rotisserie) chicken?

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Simple, right?

Roast chicken. How hard can it be.

But more places than not don't do a very good job. Either you get soggy skin, or tasteless chicken, or sometimes both. And sometimes you simply get a "salt lick" of a chicken dish.

My favorite is the rotisserie chicken at Melisse, served and prepped tableside. But, alas, this is one instance where my bank account and my stomach are not exactly aligned.

So, that being said, where you do go to quench your roast chicken craving?

(NOTE: Not looking for supermarket (i.e., Costco) or fast-food (i.e. Boston Market) chickens.)

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  1. Comme Ca on Monday nights. whole roasted chicken.

    1. Hillstone (formerly Houston's before the name change) in Santa Monica makes a good rotisserie half chicken with crushed herbs, served with dirty rice for $20.
      http://www.hillstone.com/hillstone/

      1 Reply
      1. re: wienermobile

        El Pollo Inka in on Hawthorne Blvd in Lawndale cooks their chicken in a wood burning rotisserie oven and you can taste the difference.
        http://www.elpolloinka.com/flash/loca...

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        El Pollo Inka
        15400 Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale, CA 90260

      2. Cafe Pinot used to make one--not sure if it's still on the menu.

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        Cafe Pinot
        700 West Fifth St., Los Angeles, CA 90071

        1. I make a pretty great one.

          Seriously, I do.

          No, more seriously, Bouchon does too.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CulverJack

            I second Bouchon's roast chicken - full of flavor!

            1. re: CulverJack

              Having been to Bouchon in Vegas, I can confirm they do make a really great roast chicken! Amazingly crispy skin but super moist breast.

            2. Salt's Cure

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              Salt's Cure
              7494 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

              1. Zankou can be inconsistent, but if you go at the right time, their roasted/rotisserie chicken is great.

                21 Replies
                1. re: reality check

                  I had a fantastic bird from the Pasadena Zankou yesterday. May have been the best it has ever been. That is for both the Pasadena and Glendale locations). Crisp, delicious skin. Moist, tender chicken. Damn.
                  Also, not roasted, but char grilled chicken at Dino's Chicken & Burgers tops my list. Delicious, delicious, delicious! I go to the location in Azusa (also 2 other locations). $5.99 for 1/2 chicken, fries, that delicious sauce/juice, tortillas and coleslaw. Outta this world!

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    You want "crispy" skin at Dino's I've seen people order it deep fried at the Main Street location.

                    -----
                    Main Street Cafe
                    12939 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840

                    1. re: monku

                      Hmmm, never thought of that. As it is, the employees all know that I want a lot of the sauce and usually bring my plate overflowing with it (the also automatically do my fries well done and omit the tortillas from my order and know that I am ordering one to go!). I will have to request that next time! God, it's good. Think I will have to head there this weekend to get my fix. Thanks!

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Again, I've only seen it deep fried at the Main Street location. Main Street location they'll give you as much sauce as you want. My experience is the Pico location is somewhat stingy on getting extra sauce.
                        The Pico and Azusa locations are owned by one family and the Main Street location is owned by another...the Main Street owner owns all the properties on that side of the block.

                        1. re: monku

                          Yeah, I have only been to the Azusa location. They are really accommodating and sweet. I walked into the Pomona (?) location once, but then walked out since I reasoned I could just as easily drive by "my" location on the way home - at least there I know they will give it to me like I like it! ;-)

                          1. re: monku

                            The owner of Dino's Pico and Azusa and the owner of Dino's Main St. are brothers but they use different marinade/"juice" recipes.

                            I heard that the Pomona location is a franchised operation of Dino's Pico.

                            1. re: Norm Man

                              The owner George (Main St) told me the recipe is the same, then again when I asked for extra sauce he says it's "healthy"?

                              Heard the daugther of the Pico location runs the one in Azusa.

                              1. re: monku

                                Interesting. The owner of Dino's Pico told me his brother at Dino's Main St. doesn't know all the ingredients in his marinade recipe.

                                I remember someone on Chowhound commenting that the marinade is hotter at Dino's Main St. that at Dino's Pico. I've never eaten at Dino's Main St.. Looks like I will have to give Dino's Main St, a try soon

                                1. re: Norm Man

                                  You know they may be brothers, but I don't think there's any kind of communication between the two. I've asked George (Main St.) about certain things I noticed at Dino's Pico and the Azusa location and he doesn't seem to know anything about them. You know it's possible the recipes were the same at one time, but after so many years and so many people making it, maybe something gets lost in the translation (was a Greek recipe from their mother?).

                                  I prefer the Main Street location, they are really friendly and no problem giving you more "healthy" sauce. Went to the Pico location and a lady told me she had to bring her own container to bring home more sauce. At Main Street, you want more sauce for your chicken or fries they put in a coffee to go cup and will fill it up.

                                  1. re: monku

                                    When I get my order to go, I always bring in my own container. That way, I don't lose and of that life-giving juice on the way home! ;-) I also always have the pack the fries separate so they don't soak up all my juice on the way home. I think I have determined that they put the juice from those hot yellow peppers they have in the condiment section in the juice. Sheesh, I am tempted to write to Bon Appetit or Copycat to see if they can decipher the recipe for me!

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      Maybe you were that lady I met with her own container?
                                      Anything's possible in that sauce.
                                      I'm still not sure about it being "healthy".

                                      They also make some fantastic burritos at that Main Street location.

                                      1. re: monku

                                        I don't remember meeting anyone with my container. I think I am so into my food there that I don't notice anyone or anything! Also, I have never eaten at any location other than the Azusa one. ;-)

                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                          The first time I ever saw somebody bring their own container, was at Dr. Hogly Wogly, when the man put his leftovers in that container. I thought it was a bit strange but I'm starting to do that now, complete with an ice chest in the car.

                                          1. re: reality check

                                            Yeah, it is also better for the environment, so every little thing helps.

                                            1. re: WildSwede

                                              We do the same thing. We use those Snapware Glasslock containers you can get at Whole Foods. It's often a source of amusement for the staff at the Asian places we frequent in the SGV, but few of them use recyclable containers (i.e. they don't have a resin number). As a bonus, there's less worry that a flimsy container will spill hot and sour soup all over the trunk.

                      2. re: WildSwede

                        I'm with you, I went a couple of weeks ago. I know they went through a "period" but the Pasadena location at least is putting out some really good chickens right now. This does qualify as fast-food though, which the OP doesn't want, but still...it's among the best you can get right now.

                        1. re: heckonwheels

                          Yeah, I don't order chicken at high end places when you can get delicious chicken at so many other places for less than half the price.

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            That was my thinking, but couldn't find the words.

                      3. re: reality check

                        I've had nothing bad mediocre to bad chickens at Zankou. Maybe I should try a different location and/or time.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          All I can say is that the Pasadena location was the best I have ever had it (I have been eating Zankou for over 10 years). And that is saying a lot as I have had some good chickens there.

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            As most CH know there is a family feud with Zankou. I have found the locations listed on Zankou's website, to have better whole chickens, than the Zankou, like the Montebello location, that are not listed on the site.

                            Pasadena is listed on Zankou's site, but I've found their chicken to be very inconsistent. At times very good, other times it's like a supermarket chicken that has been in the warmer for 10 hours.

                            Anaheim, also listed on Zankou's website, is inconsistent too, but not nearly as much as Pasadena.

                            Montebello-which is not listed on their website, both times I went the chicken was dry, lacked flavor, and just tasted off.

                      4. Don't understand....what's the difference between a fast food or supermarket roto chicken.
                        Aren't they all prepared the same way? How hard can that be?

                        Pollo A La Brasa in Gardena for me.

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                        Pollo A La Brasa
                        16527 S Vermont Ave, Gardena, CA 90247

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: monku

                          I love Pollo a la Brasa (K-town) alot but it is a soggy skinned bird. Sounds like the OP wants crisp.

                          BTW, ipsedixit, do you order it crisp when you get the opportunity? Whenever I order roast chicken I specify crisp to avoid that soggy skin.

                          1. re: Ciao Bob

                            Sometimes it's crispy when I eat it there.

                            1. re: monku

                              Wow, monku, I never had it crispy there but would like to.

                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                I've never had it crispy either and I've had birds right out of the rotisserie. The skin has always been a little wet and slippery.

                                1. re: Wolfgang

                                  I always eat it there and they "grill" it before they serve it.
                                  Maybe the "crispy" effect doesn't last long.

                                  1. re: monku

                                    I too have had it crispy there but it was only one time. I have to say though, Pollo A La Brasa is hands down my favorite chicken in LA. Gotta love that wood burning roto.

                          2. re: monku

                            Maybe they aren't gourmet enough for the OP.

                            1. re: monku

                              Don't understand....what's the difference between a fast food or supermarket roto chicken.
                              Aren't they all prepared the same way? How hard can that be?

                              ______________________________

                              Ever have the rotisserie chicken at Melisse or the one mentioned up above at Comme Ca?

                              Saying there is no difference in those chickens and even the finest iterations at Costco or whatever supermarket is like saying there is no difference between a Morton's hamburger and a Big Mac.

                              And I am a big fan of Costco rotisserie chickens. But to lump the two together is inapt. They're just different food categories.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Ever have the rotisserie chicken at Melisse or the one mentioned up above at Comme Ca?

                                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                NO.

                                What do you think they do the others don't?
                                When it comes down to the nuts and bolts they all use the basic technique and maybe the same rotosserie ovens and maybe even the same chickens.

                                1. re: monku

                                  Different chickens, seasonings, prep techniques, etc.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    The choice of bird used has a huge affect on the quality of the roasted chicken. The birds used in France, for example, tend to be bigger, higher quality birds than the ones typically found stateside. That is why you find the high priced Roast Chickens at places in Paris like L'Ami Louis.

                                    This is a link to a wonderful diatribe re: roast chicken by Souphie from the Paris board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/710983

                                    Though not directly related to restaurant choices in LA serving roast chicken, I find the read very interesting. It has given me a new respect for the quality of chickens being served at places like Melisse.

                                    1. re: Searching4Dunny

                                      Yup.

                                      Although while I think the type and quality of chicken is a major factor, I do think Jidori Chicken (at least the ones grown and raised domestically in the U.S.) are sort of overrated and more a product of marketing hype. Kind of like American Wagyu.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        I agree with that.

                                      2. re: Searching4Dunny

                                        thanks for the lesson.

                                      3. re: ipsedixit

                                        Melisse uses the Ronco Rotisserie Oven. I kid you not.

                                        1. re: Bob Brooks

                                          Well, the commercial says it is the best! ;-)

                                          1. re: Bob Brooks

                                            Right and they use the Pocket Fisherman to catch all their fish, too.

                                            1. re: mc michael

                                              LOL!

                                  2. Unfortunately my mind is not working right now. However, one of the best chickens is at the marketplace on 26th and Montana. There is all these little shops, and they have a small place that is know for their rotiserrie chicken. Skin is crispy and it is real reasonable. Sorry, I can't remember the name, I am sure someone will come up with it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: paprkutr

                                      Reddi-Chick

                                      1. re: daftpunkxl

                                        Thank you, I just remembered it and was coming on.

                                    2. I recently had some AWESOME rotisserie chicken at Westside Tavern. Jiraffe in Santa Monica also has stellar roast chicken. Crisp skin, and is served with great succotash.

                                      -----
                                      Westside Tavern
                                      10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                                      1. If you're in the SF Valley, try Bonano's wood-fired roast chicken - pollo a la brassa. They're on Reseda in Northridge.

                                        1. I've had good roasted chicken from El Pollo Inka but nothing has bested this food truck in the Bay Area (not the South Bay unfortunately) called the Roli Roti... it has been seen at the Palo Alto Farmer's Market on California Avenue.... skin is crispy, well-seasoned and the meat is juicy. The potatoes they serve with it may be even tastier. I salivate thinking of this chicken... and, oddly enough, it was recently featured on an episode of unique eats on the cooking channel. If anyone has had Roli Roti and knows of anything in So Cal that matches it's quality... please share.

                                          -----
                                          El Pollo Inka
                                          15400 Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale, CA 90260

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: DrBruin

                                            I actually was very disappointed in the Roli Roti chicken, but I hear their porchetta is the thing to have anyway(I don't really eat pork so I did not partake). It was clearly quality chicken but only somewhat well cooked and incredibly bland. The potatoes were not fully cooked and also bland. The little sprinkling of herb salt at the end barely helps any.

                                            I've not had roast chicken in a while but the last time I had some from Inka Wasi in PV and it was surprisingly good for a casual/fast food place. But no crispy skin. I generally like Le Saint Amour's roast chicken as well, but it's not as good as it was when the owners were at Angelique in DT.

                                            -----
                                            Le Saint Amour
                                            9725 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                            Inka's
                                            16277 Laguna Canyon Rd Ste A, Irvine, CA 92618

                                          2. Le Saint Amour, buttery, crispy Jidori chicken! So good.

                                            -----
                                            Le Saint Amour
                                            9725 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: mnosyne

                                              hmmm, interesting, mnosyne
                                              Is it a half bird? Whole? Pieces?

                                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                Half bird. Crispy skin.

                                            2. Bouchon is quite delicious.

                                              1. I'll draw lots of disagreement, and I know they've been inconsistent, but I went to the original (Venice Bl.) location of Versailles after not having been there in close to a decade, and had one heck of a nice roast chicken last month...

                                                1. Don't know if you caught this post/thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6709... or not? In any case I am still trying to get out to the Valley to test drive Bonano's.

                                                  -----
                                                  Bonano's Chicken
                                                  8363 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, California 91324, USA

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    Maybe we can meet up ... Northridge is sort of a hike even for me coming from the SGV.

                                                  2. So given your experiences thus far, does it matter if the chicken has been spatchcocked or had bones removed before cooking?

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                      I'm ok with a chicken that's been spread eagle, but definitely need all the bones.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        The flavor is in the bones!

                                                        1. re: mnosyne

                                                          Yup.

                                                          The bones, and all the innards! Esp. the digestive organs.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            You may be right. I vaguely recall Julia Child has a recipe wherein some bones are removed. At least that's my (aging) memory.

                                                    2. Roast chicken 24/7.
                                                      http://laist.com/2011/02/25/memo_to_z...

                                                      1. I remember reading a Top 10 (or 20, don't remember) article on roasted or rotisserie chicken in Los Angeles. After much searching, I can't seem to find the article. Can anyone help me with a link to it?

                                                        I'd like to go on my own chicken run:)

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: mrshankly

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/773214

                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                            THANK YOU!!

                                                        2. Sotto makes great brick chicken. The roast chicken at Forno Caldo is also very good.

                                                          1. Just had a really surprisingly good roast chicken at A-Frame. I'm not a huge fan of the place, so I was surprised when this came out, and I couldn't stop eating it until it was gone gone gone. And it was my second dinner. It's their take on Beer Can chicken - brined in beer, then slow roasted for a really long time (I think they told me 10 hours??), and then flash fried before serving. Holy crap, so freaking good. Super crispy skin with the fat already rendered out. Juicy, flavorful meat seasoned all the way through - you can really taste the effects of the brining, in a good way. I liked the spicing too - reminded me of Chinese whole fried chicken. I think it came with some kind of dipping salt or power, but it didn't need it. You get a half chicken, cut into white and dark pieces. I'm a dark meat person, but the white meat was shockingly good. I eat a lot of chicken, and this is the one I keep thinking about.

                                                            In my experience, A-Frame can be kind of inconsistent, so I'm interested to know from anyone else who has had this whether it's always good or if I was there on a good night.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: heinous

                                                              If you look at this huge "Roast Chicken Battle" thread you'll see A-Frame tied for 4th place overall with Pollo A la Brasa on Western: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/773214

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Haha, what's funny is that this is one of my favorite reviews of all time (by one of my favorite reviewers of all time - where has Exilekiss gone?). For some reason, I must have just glossed over the A-Frame part because I don't think much of the place. Thanks for the reminder! It is good to know that mine was not an isolated incident, however I think I did have a better experience because my meat was not at all overcooked. Perhaps they read the review and made some tweaks - the egg was also absent. A-Frame is now on the rotation just for that chicken. Also, for the excellent cocktails. And its proximity to Waterloo's charcuterie boards.

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  For fans of Pollo a la Brasa, they are moving to a newly constructed place behind in two months, then tear down the current to give way for parking. That is according to the lady owner.

                                                              2. I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but the baked/roast chicken quarters at Stater Brothers -- the Yorba Linda location, specifically -- is incredibly flavorful, with the skin faintly crispy and the meat tender and juicy. They're large pieces, so two quarters with a smallish side dish is a delicious gut buster of a meal. The quarters themselves are priced nicely, at $1.69 each.

                                                                That said, don't be shy about asking the deli staffer on hand about asking for fresher, plumper pieces. I've found that the very few, lesser-skilled (and likelier to be fired) deli employees there aren't as aware of the need to turn the pieces regularly, to keep one side from incinerating. Other than that occasional picadillo, you'll be in for some seriously tasty baked/roast chicken -- a dish my better half and I love.