Roast chicken is one of those foods that resonates with me. I love that it’s simple enough for home chefs, elevated by restaurants, perfect with most types of wines; it’s one of my most favorite foods. That’s why I really loved this article that the Seattle Weekly‘s Jon Kauffman wrote about roasted chicken in the spring. He visited a few places, but the one that really caught his eye was this place in Lynnwood. I’m from Lynnwood and love it when the spotlight shines on us. The place is called San Fernando and he thought their chicken was the most delicious. This I had to see for myself.
The first thing that I think is great about San Fernando is that it’s in Lynnwood. As someone who grew up there, I really enjoy the fact that the culinary rep of Lynnwood is slowly growing. Although major chains dominate the local landscape, places like San Fernando’s helps the diners of Snohomish County. I’ve already written about the good Chinese food at Szechuan 99, and it is places like that and San Fernando’s that make a trek up north for food worth it.
For Seattle to continue growing as a top-notch food town, it only helps when the greater region elevates the food reputation. There are all sorts of cool and unique food stops at all points north, south, east and west. That’s why it’s great that this little Peruvian restaurant is around. Basically, look past the shroud of urban sprawl and find little neighborhood gems to visit.
Here are the three cool things about San Fernando:
- Their roast chicken
This goes without saying; their roasted chicken is pretty damn good. And it’s cheap too. Take a look at these stats: $14.50, one whole pollo a la brasa, fries, and a salad. An entire meal for four for under twenty bucks! And the chicken is delicious. Deeply flavored, juicy chicken, and an elaborate concoction of spices that creates this delicious lacquer of skin. Tasty. Because the chicken is roasted whole it stays tender. I wanted to explore more about how they cooked their chicken, but their chef didn’t speak English. Love the authenticity. Peruvian chicken is adored and it’s cool that Lynnwood’s San Fernando is the only place we can get it locally. Yeah, the fries are kind of ho-hum and the salad is pretty simple, but the chicken is the star of the show. Order it and smile all the way through your meal.
One quick note, when you order the chicken they’ll give you some squeeze bottle sauces. One of them is a jalapeno sauce and it is freaking awesome. It’s a house-made blend of peppers, garlic, and cilantro - and it’s addictive. The chicken doesn’t need it, but this sauce helps lift it up to a new height. When we left, we took a couple of servings of the jalapeno sauce with us.
- Purveyor of Peruvian food
I’m by no means an expert on Peruvian food, but what I do know I am intrigued by. And as one of the few places that serve this style, I look forward to going back to try a few of their other dishes. Looking at other tables, I was curious to see what they were having. And the more that I read about Peruvian cuisine, the more I was intrigued about how the influx of different cultures have left an imprint on the food of Peru and how the various climates and regions all created a unique dining country. I think juxtapositions in food are interesting and when countries are able to take these random elements and spin them into their own is exciting. Kirkland had their own Peruvian place, Mixtura, which I heard good things about, but they have since closed. I look forward to trying more of what San Fernando’s has on their menu.
- The unassuming and approachable vibe
How about this for flying under the radar? San Fernando’s doesn’t have a website, they don’t have takeout menus, and their business cards are printed on heavy paper stock. They are there to serve food, not build a brand. I think that’s kind of cool. Their restaurant is very plain and quaint. If you’re looking for atmospherics go elsewhere. Pulling up to the strip mall that they are located in and stepping inside the restaurant, you’ll see a very basic space. About eight tables. Brick red walls with Peruvian decorations. And that’s it. But the place was packed! We were the only non-Spanish speakers in the restaurant. With the big table of about a dozen people enjoying a party, the feel of the restaurant is very homey and familial; we felt welcome. This little bit of service and feel goes miles.
Enjoy your dinner at San Fernando. It’s perfectly rated for what they are. A small family-owned restaurant that specializes in Peruvian food. And super affordable at that. Bring your twenty bucks and go in for a full meal and then some.