What's in a name? I'm not sure of the origin of the name or the business, but today, Mr. Chicken is a pretty popular take out only restaurant featuring a number of Portuguese meals. For a at least a couple of years now, when I visit my parent's house on the weekends, my mother will often have lunch for me in this white styrofoam container. Usually it was a whole grilled chicken, split down the center and flattened, and underneath the chicken are some fries and rice, with a small container of hot sauce tossed in there somewhere. Usually, my mother has ordered other things like kale and bean stew, pork ribs, roast beef, roasted potatoes - anything from a long list of Portuguese meals available from here.
The grilled chicken is the specialty here—you noticed that quickly upon walking into this little... basically a kitchen with a store front. The chicken, thankfully, is not skinned or boned, so it's flavorful and the charred skin is my favorite part. The chicken is a kind of "hot chicken", as opposed to BBQ chicken, where the chicken is seasoned in pepper, in this case Portuguese pepper, piri-piri, but no thick sweet sauce. The hot sauce is also similar to piri-piri and is spicy not sweet.
On one of my own visits, standing in line and looking into the glass enclosure, I found the other items available on that particular day. Pork ribs - they're generally roasted as is without a lot of seasoning. I also saw mackerel, sardines and other fish dishes, mostly fried and seasoned heavily with garlic and Portuguese red pepper. There was also a tripe stew and and roast beef. I've never had the tripe, but I've had the roast beef and I really like it. It's sliced thin with a modified gravy-think of your average roast beef gravy and add Portuguese crushed pepper.
Bifana, though is sounds like beef-ana, is actually pork. Often, the term refers to a pork sandwich, but it can refer to roasted pork in general, and I picked some up, too. I've had the pork ribs and they're OK, but I think the roasted pork with gravy is my favorite from Mr. Chicken. I like anything better when it's grilled or charred, and this pork was really good. I was expecting it to be a bit dry, but it was actually tender and moist, and enhanced with a tangy/spicy seasoning.
My favorite thing from Mr. Chicken is actually the kale, cabbage, pork, chourico and red bean stew. I love it, but unfortunately on this trip, it wasn't available. However, there was a new favas dish that looked interesting, so I got some. Favas (broad beans) is an Azorean specialty. It may exist on main land Portugal, but I've eaten in hundreds of restaurants throughout the entire country and I've never seen it. This dish was a little different as the favas were fresh (not dried), small and still very green. They were cooked in a spicy chourico, tomato and egg mixture and I really enjoyed it. The favas were slightly snappy (not mushy), flavorful and the fava bean shell was thin enough that you could bite through it no differently than any other legume. As a comparison, the favas in traditional favas dishes are larger and the skins are often impossible to bite through.
I also had some shrimp rissóis-I can't resist fried dough stuffed with stuff. I got all this stuff for under $20. That's pretty amazing, but even more amazing was that the "old Portuguese woman" behind the counter gave me an entire loaf of massa - no charge. Wow, that was pretty cool and it was delicious.
This is not fancy food, not even by Portuguese down-home standards. It's inexpensive authentic Portuguese take out food that is a great option, especially for the money.