It's impossible that a man who supposedly hates chicken can make it taste this good. Like, stupid good. Like, tell several friends within hours, share leftovers at work, return in the midst of writing this because a sudden obsession commands it, good.
Luis Cremidis — a former Marine and now GM/owner at 2 Lucho's — says his father, Luis C. Cremidis, worked at his father's polloría as a kid in Arequipa, Peru. After processing hundreds of chickens weekly, he grew sick of the mess and rarely ever ate the meat. Later, though, he owned his own Miami restaurant and now cooks for his son at 2 Lucho's ("Lucho" being a nickname for Luis).
Whatever pollo peace accord he's made with himself I care not, so long as it holds up. Our town needs this chicken. I need this chicken. You don't know it yet, but you need this chicken.
I'm not even a rotisserie chicken guy, per se. I've never been to the chain outfits, and at home I roast my birds in my oven before making stock with the leftovers. But I'm reminded of the potential glory of rack roasting here, as mesquite charcoal in a brick oven imbues the pollo a la brasa ($13.99, whole/$12.49, half with two sides) with deep, smoky notes that linger in rooms after you walk through with to-go boxes, and on your fingertips even after a hand-washing.
There's an herbal seasoning of some sort and possibly a short brining to create such softness under the charred skin, but I don't know because Luis C. hasn't even shared the recipe with his son. And despite lengthy, warm conversation with Luis, I glean very little about ingredients and methods here.
Ah the sexiness of a secret; much love and respect. Just know this: 2 Lucho's often starts pulling the birds from the rack around noon and sells out by dinner, so go early. And order an extra side of the vibrant green aji dip, which incorporates native Peruvian aji amarillo peppers and a little habanero for extra kick, plus garlic and cilantro among finishing ingredients.
The aji makes everything extra amazing at 2 Lucho's. Try it first with the anticuchos ($5.99), my favorite overall plate, of thin, juicy, marinated slivers of beef heart — please, don't be an American weenie, just try it — that burst with zest before aji amplification. Add a side ($1) to the pork chop ($8.99), lightly seasoned otherwise and topped in sautéed red onions, or any of the steak dishes, most in the stir-fry realm.
A salty soy-sauce base places items like the Bistec a la Chorrillana ($10.99), a saucy steak-peppers-and-onions plate, squarely in the Asian food realm, which confuses until you learn about multiple waves of immigrants dating back to the slave trade, then mid-1800s contract-labor work in sugar plantations, followed by a more modern diaspora from World War II and communism. Peru now hosts Latin America's largest Chinese community.
So again, when you're looking at the arroz chaufa de carne ($8.99) and thinking, "Hey, this is just fried rice" — well, you're right, though the added soft bacon steals the show. Even the rightfully popular lomo saltado ($9.99) owes its origin to the East, with more peppers and onions joining tomatoes and soft french-fry-like potato slivers and seasoned beef cuts for a delightfully starchier amalgamation.
Side items star, too, often included with entrée options but available à la carte: dessert-ish maduros (sweet plantains, $2.99); simple but beautiful black or Peruvian (tan-colored Peruano) beans ($2.25 each); tostones (unripe, twice-fried plantains that are bland without an awesome, cumin-forward oil-and-vinegar dip, $2.99); and yucca (cassava) fries ($2.99), which are super-dense and firm on one visit and mushier the next. Also try the worthwhile Papa a la Huancaina ($5.99) of cold potatoes in an egg-yolk-tasting, nacho-cheese-textured cheese sauce.
We intentionally avoided all American or Greek items like burgers and shawarma (a nod to the family's partial Greek heritage and catch-all South Academy Boulevard shopping center traffic) in favor of the Peruvian fare. Luis' dad makes a commendable, tri-layer tres leches cake ($5.25) and his mom rocks a heavy but ideally textured flan ($3.99) with a delicious burnt caramel sauce.
Sugar's also available via Peruvian Inca Kola ($1.69), which bears bubblegum aromas, a cracked-out cream-soda body and foul fake ingredients. I'd get the house-made chicha morada ($2.25), a cinnamon-laced purple corn drink with floating pineapple cubes.
Since Sabores del Peru closed in this same area a few years back, we've been devoid of Peruvian food, making 2 Lucho's all the more significant and special. So support it. Just be warned: After a visit, you too may hate chicken — if it's cooked by anybody else.
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