Rediscovering Rotisserie Chicken at La Esperanza

16 Jul

Late Sunday evening, we finally finished touching up the paint in the bathrooms and sealing the tile grout.  Starving and exhausted, I was in no mood to labor away in the kitchen after two days of playing Weekend Warrior updating the bathrooms.  We headed to Lowe’s one last time before its closing time, begrudgingly knowing that we’d be back half a dozen times the following weekend for the sake of an improper fitting, color, amount of something…  I kept my eyes peeled for a promising dinner spot on the drive back from Lowe’s, a place I now frequent more often than grocery stores.  Driving north on Josey Lane just past the George Bush Turnpike, Dodie’s Seafood Cafe caught my eye.  As I pulled into the shopping center (anchored by Target), my Weekend Warrior partner announced that he was “not really up for seafood tonight.” 

Hungry and irritable (a mental condition I call “hangry”), I contemplated a lengthy rant on the dearth of interesting, non-chain restaurants in northern Carrollton and my unwillingness to drive aimlessly on this futile search for a decent dinner elsewhere when Dodie’s was right in front of us.  But alas, we were already on each other’s last nerve after a whole weekend of being cooped up in the house with remodeling projects that require more energy than I can ever conjure up in one weekend.  I let it go, but was still too stubborn to go very far.  Instead, I drove around the same shopping center looking for another option.

Our choices looked bleak.  This shopping center appeared to have surpassed its glory days with every third storefront empty, probably a result of losing the battle to newer, shinier strip malls further north.  I slowly approached another speed bump, passing up Radio Shack, ready to give up, when this appeared:

We looked at each other and knew exactly what was on the other’s mind.  The promise of having great rotisserie chicken like on our adventure in the small Yucatan town of Piste drew a glimmer of excitement in our eyes.

Inside, La Esperanza is a haphazardly put-together space of booths, high school cafeteria-esque chairs, and collapsible banquet tables.  Various South American arts and crafts adorned the walls while a permanent stage marks the dance floor in one corner.  As it turns out, La Esperanza is a popular spot for salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights with live music.  On this Sunday night, the place is half empty.  The TV’s and most of the diners tuned into a telenovela while we perused the menu and munched on complimentary chips and dips.

The round tortilla chips, interlaidden with crunchy Corn Nuts-like morsels, were greaseless but tasted store-bought (slightly stale).  The three dipping sauces ranged wildly in flavor, from the cilantro-heavy mildly spicy green sauce (my personal favorite), to the mustardy vinegary yellow sauce, to the dry fiery red sauce.

The menu items also ranged wildly.  There are Tex-Mex features, Peruvian specialties, and, of course, rotisserie chicken (in order sizes ranging from individual plates to family platters).  We were there for the chicken and decided on the half chicken platter to split.

The half chicken platter, sufficient to feed two average appetites, comes with a simple salad with a mayonnaisy dressing and a scoop of yellow rice with peas, corn, and green beans.  The salad and rice are nothing to write home about, but the chicken was superbly moist, flavorful, and manages to have a salty, crackly dry skin that contrasts so nicely with the juicy interior.  Rotisserie chicken is one of those comfort dishes that you easily forget about.  The superfluous presence of them at grocery store deli sections makes them unexciting and forgettable.  But rotisserie chicken has a great way of bringing out the best flavors in chicken, retaining the moisture while allowing creativity in the seasoning and finish of the skin.  La Esperanza’s Peruvian rotisserie chicken was just what I needed to remember how satisfying this ordinary dish can be when done right.

We also tried the tres leches cake for dessert.

Not the best slice of tres leches cake I’ve ever sampled, but certainly a worthwhile rendition, especially at only $3.50.  The whole meal, half chicken platter, dessert, and a banana flavored Peruvian soda that my partner enjoyed and I thought rather strange (shown below) with tax and tip was under $20.  Looks like we’ve found ourselves a new casual dinner spot in northern Carrollton.

Rating: 3 / 5

La Esperanza Rotisserie Chicken
2662 N. Josey Ln
Carrollton, TX 75007

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