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Rotisserie Chicken

Finger Lickin' Good

SF is a city with a plentiful rotisserie options. Local favorite Zuni Café was one of the first to make famous rotisserie chicken, redefining “finger-licking good.” Zuni’s chicken is almost unparalleled, and as expected, grabbing a reservation requires a bit of advance planning. Luckily for diners, SF has a number of other options to help satisfy the rotisserie craving.

One Market
SF is notorious for its chill-you-to-the-bone winters, and with snow on the top of Mt. Tam in recent weeks, it seems like warmth is not in the near future. Many a San Franciscan will be in pursuit of comfort and satisfaction; and “spit-roasted” sounds just about right. Enter One Market and head Chef Marc Dommen.

Dommen is known for adding dishes to his menu on a trial basis to see how they fare with the San Francisco public. Right now, Dommen is testing out poultry cravings with the heartily-portioned “Mary’s spit-roasted chicken for two.” Make sure to order the bird at the beginning of the meal as it takes fifty-five minutes to prepare.

The chicken is the evening’s star, crowned with a fresh sprig of rosemary and served on a shiny silver platter. Leave your rubbery, dry flavorless chicken at the door because One Market meat is tender and juicy, with an underlying smokiness. My only issue is the skin. I love a golden, crispy skin — the kind that you want to pull apart with your fingers, stuff into your mouth and eat voraciously. Although One Market’s chicken is flavorful, the skin lacked that crispy quality, making me think it should have cooked a bit longer.

From a satisfaction perspective, diners will not have any issue as the pampered bird is accompanied with two Farmer’s Market sides of your choice. I recommend the chunkier green nettle parmesan polenta and large potato tots with tangy, homemade ketchup.

Do yourself a favor and order the shaved beef tongue salad served with cabbage and rye croutons and horseradish, a clever play on the popular Reuben sandwich. The Tasmanian ocean trout piled on a hash brown cake and topped with a pastured egg is the nighttime version of an egg’s benedict. Hungry yet?

Roli Roti
You have likely seen the daunting 20-30 person line at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. No, this is not Blue Bottle Coffee, it’s Roli Roti, which prepares one of the best rotisserie chickens for a measly $12.

I rarely support obnoxious long lines, yet Roli Roti is one line I will gladly wait in again for another affair with the succulent, juicy meat and browned skin with just the right amount of spices. It tastes as good as it smells and looks. Take a moment and picture this image: a metallic food truck, five to seven workers expertly carving chicken for the crowd before them. At least forty to fifty glistening rotisserie chickens slowly turn and drip with juice. The line moves quickly, and if you only want the chicken hit the express lane on the far left.

Rotisserie chicken is not the only treasure offered by Roli Roti among a sea of food vendors. I would be remiss if I did not touch on my new favorite sandwich, the wonder that is porchetta.

Porchetta is boneless, fatty pork tenderloin wrapped in pork belly then spit-roasted. The best part about the meat is the crackling pork skin, which makes you forsake any commitment to being healthy for the day. Add caramelized onions, bright arugula, and a fresh batard, and the masterpiece is complete.

Limon Rotisserie
When you have the word “rotisserie” in the name of your restaurant, you mean business. Walking into Limon Rotisserie for a girls’ Valentines Day dinner, I was immediately greeted by smells of cumin and citrus, and sounds of fast-paced salsa music and the rumblings of lively conversation.

Limon Rotisserie, in the Mission District, is the sister restaurant to Limon, the Valencia Street predecessor more focused on ceviches and other Peruvian specialties. It serves up small plates — known as piqueos in Peru — but is really known for the pollo a la brasa. The chicken exudes that familiar flavor of ajo — garlic to the non-Spanish speaker.

To say the meat is juicy is an understatement. You can almost taste the hours that went into marinating this spice-loaded bird. I am a sauce fiend, especially when it comes to Peruvian favorites like chimichurri, spicy rocoto or aji, but with the wave of juices in each bite of rotisserie chicken I barely noticed the trio of salsas as I was too busy housing my half chicken. Good thing I had tacu tacu (crispy rice cake with beans that resembles a Latin mini casserole) and yucca fries to dip later.

Limon Rotisserie is one of the few sit-down restaurants in SF that will fill you up with a ceviche, main dish, two sides and maybe a glass of sangria for under $30. I wish I could say the ambiance was as good of a deal, but it turned out to be more of a schizophrenic episode. The upstairs dining room is sleek with avocado walls, large colorful paintings and a bar to pony up at while you wait for a table to open. However, the downstairs is a mishmash of neon orange lights, low booths, odd wall murals and exposed ceiling piping that does not exactly spell out “romance” or even intimacy. Our party agreed that it bordered on a cross between a rundown gentleman’s club from the eighties and Chuckee Cheese, a fact that unfortunately distracted us from fully enjoying our meal. Next time I will either make sure I sit upstairs or opt for take-out.