My good friend Mike Sula, the intrepid food reporter for the Chicago Reader recently told the story of D'Candela, an Irving Park Peruvian joint. It reminded me that I had an incredible meal there last year, but never wrote about the place.
The touchstone is their charcoal roasted chicken, a golden crispy skinned number, juicy with brine and more secret spices (15) than the Colonel's bird. Save for the chicken at Papa's Cache Sabroso in Humboldt Park, I've generally been disappointed in Latin-flavored spit roasted birds. They always end up with dried-out, over-roasted breast and limp lifeless skin. D'Candela, however, is one of the best around.
My favorite dish here though is the cordero con frijoles y arroz, or lamb stew featuring succulent shards of meat and piquant peppers bathed in rich gravy. Add in a side of crispy tostones and the aji or mayo infused with Peruvian green peppers or the flaky egg washed empanadas filled with succulent piccadillo and sweet raisins, and you've got yourself one fine Peruvian meal.
4053 N. Kedzie, Chicago IL 60686 (map)