San Fernando’s tamale is a delicious blend of cornmeal, eggs and pork.

San Fernando’s tamale is a delicious blend of cornmeal, eggs and pork.

San Fernando’s has the Peruvian chicken you’re looking for

The Lynnwood restaurant serves pollo a la brasa and other melting-pot dishes that Peru is known for.

LYNNWOOD — Looking for fast food that includes slow-roasted chicken? Search no more. Pollos a la Brasa San Fernando does it right.

My 93-year-old mother last week pronounced this Peruvian-style pollo the best chicken she’d ever eaten. My friend and colleague Alicia Jones agrees.

Like all of the Americas, Peru is a melting pot of cultures — primarily native, European and Asian. The dish pollo a la brasa debuted in Lima during the 1950s with the help of some Swiss guys who owned a hotel there. They used a traditional Peruvian spice rub on the chicken — paprika, cumin, oregano, along with salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and a bit of vinegar — to give the chicken its special taste.

Today Peruvian rotisserie chicken is one of the hottest food trends in America, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. The usual plate is the hindquarter (cuarto) of a chicken served with fries and a fresh lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad.

In New York City, Peruvian chicken is so popular, says New York Times food writer Sam Sifton, that “there are whole swaths of (the city) in which Peruvian chicken is as important a takeout dish as pizza or orange beef, neighborhoods in which the lacquered birds and their accompanying little plastic tubs of tangy green sauce are weeknight staples, where the delivery guy gets a year-end bonus same as the doorman. Peruvian chicken can become a habit.”

Alicia has begun to make a habit of trips to San Fernando, which is located just off Highway 99 at 208th St. SW in Lynnwood. It’s a small restaurant — one of those great hole-in-the-wall strip-mall joints — and on weekends, Alicia said, the booths are filled with families, most of them with South American backgrounds.

“For a couple of years, I would pass by, thinking it an odd place to put a restaurant. About six months ago I decided to give it a try. Do take-out. Wow, am I glad I did,” Alicia said. “Oh, my goodness, the chicken fell off the bone. And the skin — the flavor was exquisite.”

Alicia visited San Fernando another four more times that week, ordering the quarter-chicken plate ($12).

Today, she skips the fries in favor of double the amount of salad because she can’t get enough of the house salad dressing, which is mayonnaise-based with some tangy elements.

She also slathers the chicken with the house green sauce — made from mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. The house red chili sauce is even more spicy, so go slow. Ketchup is on the table, too, for those who must have it with their fries.

When I ate at San Fernando with Alicia, we tried the papa rellena ($6) — a deep fried mashed potato with seasoned ground beef and onions. It was so good, we wished we had just ordered a number of appetizers. When I took my mom out the other day, we split a tamal ($6) — hominy bread stuff with egg and pork. It was topped with the shop’s delicious pickled red onions. Another “wow.”

On my first visit, I tried lomo saltado ($13), which is another favorite in Peru, I am told. It’s top sirloin strips, onions and tomatoes on rice, and served with fries. I couldn’t eat the fries, because the rest of the dish was so filling.

Also popular is tallarin saltado, which is chicken or beef marinated in soy sauce, onions, green and red peppers and garlic, served over spaghetti ($12).

Other dishes include a Cantonese-style fried rice called chaufa, fried pork with yucca, grilled pork chops with rice and beans, Italian-style tripe with rice, ceviche de pescado and tilapia frita.

“The prices are great,” Alicia said. “I always end up getting two meals out of whatever I order.”

The most popular drinks at San Fernando are the Peruvian cola, which is green, and mango juice, which is delicious ($2.50).

Next time I plan to order the helado de lucuma dessert. It’s an ice cream made from the lucuma fruit, which is native to Peru. It sounds like a “wow,” too.

Pollos A La Brasa San Fernando

20815 67th Ave W., Lynnwood

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

www.facebook.com/pages/Pollos-A-La-Brasa-San-Fernando

Talk to us

More in Life

This family is no match for a German-made knife. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Any way you slice it, that bread knife is dangerous

Their old bread knife was too dull. The new one is too sharp, apparently.

Marc Price
Yes, that’s Skippy: Alex P. Keaton’s pal to do stand-up in Everett

Marc Price, who appeared on 54 episodes of “Family Ties” in the 1980s, to do a set at Tony V’s Garage on Feb. 9.

Preparing for the natural end of our lives

Most of us don’t want to talk about death. But we need to be prepared for the inevitable.

The European Parliament in Brussels charts the course of Europe.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Politics, good living and peeing in Brussels

The Belgian capital’s rich brew of food and culture pleasantly surprises those who stop.

AeroMexico canceled her flight, but she wants a refund, not a credit

AeroMexico cancels Patrizia Azzellini’s flight and offers her a ticket credit, but she’d prefer a refund. Who’s right?

Everett Home Depot worker Jeffrey Raven Leonard, 52, holds a certificate that names him a Kentucky Colonel, an honor from the governor of Kentucky. He received the award, given to 4,000 to 5,000 people annually, for getting the word out about a hiring program for veterans at Home Depot. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
This Kentucky Colonel works at Home Depot, not a fried chicken stand

Jeffrey Raven Leonard, 52, of Everett, joins thousands of other colonels honored for good deeds by the governor of Kentucky.

Gin Blossoms
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Tickets are on sale now for the Gin Blossoms gig in Tulalip. A variety of local music, from rock to classical, can be heard this weekend in Everett.

LoveZone owners Katrina Cooney and husband Kevin Cooney at their store on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Does your Valentine want candy — or a trip to the Love Zone?

The adult store has 27 years of experience selling products to spice up romance, with stores in Everett and Marysville.

2023 Toyota Highlander (Toyota)
2023 Toyota Highlander

The 2023 Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Premium is as good as it gets for a luxury sports sedan at a mid-grade price.

Tala Davey-Wraight, 3, is thrown in the air by her dad Oscar Davey-Wraight, one of the Summer Meltdown headliners also known as Opiuo, during Cory Wong’s set on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After Monroe debut, no Summer Meltdown music fest in 2023

Organizers announced Wednesday they would “take the year off in order to figure out the best path forward for Summer Meltdown in 2024.”

We don’t know whose eye is depicted in this miniature, but it must have been someone well loved. Wearing a miniature painting of a loved one’s eye was fashionable in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Soapy TV show inspires interest in 19th century accessory

An eye miniature on a pendant, as seen on “Bridgerton,” sells for $704 at auction.

The GPP for tomorrow is Hamamelis mollis, commonly called Chinese witch hazel, the image credit goes to Great Plant Picks
Great Plant Pick: Chinese witch hazel

It’s the most fragrant of all witch hazels and worth growing for that characteristic alone.