Recently I met up with a friend in order to catch up and have a nice inexpensive dinner. We decided on Pio Pio, both of us having an interest in tasty rotisserie-style chicken that evening.
Pio Pio of course brings other specialties which we also had to order, but there was no doubt the main course would be the pio pio, a whole chicken marinated in a “special and unique Peruvian sauce”. So we opted for the Matador Combo, which offered a bunch of side dishes to go with the Chicken Pio.
First, naturally, a pitcher of sangria. I was told this was necessary, so I complied. Maybe too much ice for my preferences, but it wasn’t overly sweet — always a concern — and the fruit was chopped small enough to avoid unsightly gagging, while still soaking up a lot of wine-y goodness. Definite win.
Ah, the chicken. The Chicken Pio doesn’t look that big, but this was way more than plenty for two. Juicy, hot, with such tasty skin (damn, I love chicken skin), I ate more than half of this on my own. I’m really a fan of this chicken now, and I plan to go back — it’s quite inexpensive, really, for such a tasty, flavorful dish. And since it’s a whole chicken, you can pawn off the white meat on your dining companion if you like.
What Peruvian dinner would be complete without salchipapa? Essentially hot dogs sliced and fried, set atop thick-cut french fries, the salchipapa was… well, I do have a weakness for hot dogs, but these weren’t elevated beyond that, and the potatoes were kind of limp and chewy. I admit to not knowing whether the dish is meant to consist of thick, soft fries, but that’s what they were. I will say that reheated in my oven at home for a lot longer, these were delicious as a late-night meal.
We also received a plate of tostones, or fried plantains. These weren’t as tender on the inside as I prefer, but they were well-crisped and not oily or greasy, and held up well. The tangy, somewhat spiced sauce was welcomed and gave these a boost in the flavor department I think they required (along with a bit of salt).
Avocado salad apparently means a lot of salad ingredients sliced atop a lettuce bed. The dressing wasn’t memorable, and really just sat on the avocado anyway. The avocado was fresh as could be and easy to inhale, and the whole dish helped combat the heaviness of most of the rest of our meal. I highly recommend this to complement your chicken.
Oh look, rice and beans! We didn’t really need this, and I had the smaller proportion of this by a wide margin (beans aren’t my thing), though I tried both and they were serviceable. Nothing to write home about, but I didn’t go in expecting that.
And finally, we split a big bowl of the soup of the day, a chicken soup. Nice chunkiness to this, and the broth was very tasty. It’s no “Jewish penicillin,” but it hit the spot, even if we managed to eat it during the meal instead of as an appetizer.
Overall, I was very pleased with the food at Pio Pio. The chicken was as stellar as I was hoping it would be, and most of the side dishes worked out all right. The price couldn’t be beat, either: while the sangria is fairly pricey, the rest of this meal wasn’t even $50 with tax and tip. I know I’m not breaking any new news with this revelation, but Pio Pio was very good, and a great value. It’s clean and bright inside, and while the tables and chairs aren’t terribly expensive, you’re in a convivial environment with like-minded individuals out for a tasty, filling meal without spending too much. Keep in mind that they only accept American Express, but at least you won’t be emptying out too much of your wallet otherwise. I know I’m coming back to Pio Pio soon.