Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill

Fried plantainsSame food, half the price?
Years ago my family visited San Francisco as tourists for the first time. We did all the classic touristy things: walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, ride the famous trolley, and marvel at the sheer size of the biggest Chinatown in the US.

We found a fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurant with simple formica tables, super bright fluorescent lights, and incredible food. The best part? It was super cheap.

One our second day there, the waiter told us that a much fancier Chinese restaurant upstairs served exactly same food but charged twice as much. Of course, the decor and service upstairs were much nicer, but the food was identical. In fact, it came out of the same kitchen.

We chuckled, feeling like we had found some amazing secret about which the clueless, duped tourists upstairs had no clue.

In reality, we never did confirm or validate the waiter’s statement. He played to our instinctive values – the desire to get a good deal.

Whenever a successful (and expensive) restaurant opens a more casual joint with the same trade name, people tend to get excited (think Jean George or Daniel Boulud), thinking that they can get something amazing for much cheaper.

Fried yucca
Yucca Fries

The owners of Macchu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill began with a highly successful Peruvian restaurant in Union Square (also called Macchu Picchu). After moving that restaurant to a bigger space, they opened up a simple, casual rotisserie at the old location.
Peruvian Chicken

Their namesake dish, of course, is the Peruvian chicken, which costs $15.99 for a whole chicken. It’s marinated for 24 hours in their secret blend of spices and then cooked over charcoal. It’s juicy, flavorful, and definitely quite enjoyable.
We only got take-out, so I can’t comment much on the ambiance of the restaurant or the service. Nevertheless, the chicken is definitely very good, as well as the classic fried plantains and the yucca fries.
Classic Peruvian cookies called Alfajores – these were filled with caramel and were absolutely delicious.

I hope to someday return to try the larger, sit-down restaurant, which has a much bigger menu, full bar, and takes reservations. Until then, I’m perfectly happy relishing in the memories of the simple yet delicious menu items at the more casual counterpart down the street.

Machu Picchu
307 Somerville Ave
Somerville, MA 02143
Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill on Urbanspoon

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  1. Fran says

    Want to hear something strange?  I was recommending your blog to friends when I was in L.A. and they said, “Is that Jen’s blog, I was in praise band with her.”  I only stumbled onto your blog because of the project food blog competition!

  2. Philip Hou says

    I fell in love with the smaller Machu Picchu chicken joint, then tried the larger one.  I ordered ceviche, a soup, and another dish and had a bad experience.  Been going strictly back to the chicken spot since then.  I like the misky salad (you get avocado slices and beets) and the chicha morada purple corn drink with the chicken.

  3. says

    This place is excellent, I eat chicken there all the time with my wonderful Peruvian girlfriend who really loves it. The larger restaurant is fantastic as well – try the Aji de Gallina and the causa.

  4. says

    The success of a cookout depends entirely on the charcoal grill staying hot. To keep it hot, and to be sure all of your food is thoroughly cooked and has that wonderful flavor.

  5. says

    Converting a gas barbecue to burn charcoal is a relatively easy process and is a very good option if your current gas-burning grill is no longer working. Before converting your old gas barbecue be sure to check the grill for rust. 

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