Healthful and delicious
By Justin Rude
Friday, May 6, 2011
In a neighborhood filled with bistros and bars, Chix seems a bit of an odd man out with its focus on healthy and environmentally friendly dining. But that hasn't kept the 3 1/2-year-old restaurant from carving out a niche in the crowded U Street dining scene.
Co-owners Victoria Garcia and Lukas Umana have managed to create a dining space that is both homey and eco-conscious. It's a great trick. Diners find their seating in an upstairs dining room and bus their tables without it feeling like a chore. Perhaps the restaurant is nestled in the first two stories of an old rowhouse - so sorting your own refuse into a trio of recycling bins just feels like something a good houseguest should do.
On the menu: As the name implies, the menu is focused on chicken. Specifically, slow-roasted chicken in a trio of seasoning styles: the familiar Peruvian seasoning; the "Chix Chicken," which is a house style made with a secret spice blend; and Colombian style, a Chix invention in which the chicken is marinated in Colombian coffee and coconut milk for 24 hours. The chickens are advertised as hormone and antibiotic-free and are roasted over natural charcoal and wood. The birds are served in quarters, halves or whole, and come to the table tender and juicy, full of flavor and with a slightly crisp skin.
The menu also carries a selection of wraps, salads and vegetarian options, and is known for its rich black bean hummus. The hummus is the star of one of the restaurant's most popular salads, the veggie trio, which offers the bean dip and pita with a green salad and a mix of chickpeas, green pepper, onions and parsley. Like most of the menu, it tastes fresh and healthful without feeling like diet food.
One item that doesn't entirely fit with the rest of the garden- fresh menu: the restaurant's signature noodles and cheese. This take on the mac 'n' cheese formula covers vermicelli with cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. The use of nonfat milk to fill out the casserole is the dish's only real nod to calorie counting. The rich side is a nice contrast to the kitchen's crunchier fare and is one of the restaurant's most popular items.
Lunch deal: From noon to 3 p.m. $6.50 gets you a quarter chicken or a chicken or veggie wrap with two sides.
After hours: Chix has a great "reverse happy hour" deal during the summer - $10 bottles of wine from 7 to 10 p.m. daily.