Restaurant Guide 2013: El Inka

48 NE Division St., Gresham, 491-0323,

[LOS POLLOS HERMANOS] Shoved away in a nondescript strip mall alongside a greasy Mexican joint and a party-supply store, Pollos a la Brasa El Inka is handicapped by its Gresham address. Landlocked in a suburb no one ever visits on purpose, it's easy for the owners to advertise their roast chicken as the best in town. What's its competition, Safeway? But this small, family-run Peruvian eatery's signature dish could throw in with any served in Portland proper and keep its title. Slow-cooked in a wood-fired oven, rubbed with a mélange of secret spices the family will probably take to their graves and served with various side sauces that alter each bite, it's a sublime take on a simple meal. As for the rest of the menu—yes, there is a rest of the menu—there are non-poultry items, such as hyper-acidic ceviche ($9.49-$11.99) and a beef saute ($10.49) notable only for including big wedge fries in the mix. Stick to the chicken, though. Not in the mood for rotisserie? Try the aji de gallina ($8.49), in which the meat is shredded and served in a currylike milk gravy. 

Ideal meal: A quarter roasted chicken with an empanada ($2.49) and a caramel sandwich cookie ($3).

Best deal: Considering a ready-to-eat supermarket roast chicken is usually about $7, the fact you can get half of one of El Inka's magnificent birds with fries and a superfluous salad for $12.49 is a steal.

Pro Tip: Though its name and glowing gold coloring may entice you, and the Latino families who frequent the place seem to guzzle it by the liter, Inca Kola isn't the best beverage to wash down all that poultry: It tastes like Sprite infused with Big League Chew. If you're curious, take a can to go and try it once everything else is digested.

11 am-9 pm daily. $.


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