There is a sense of action when you walk up to the historic building that houses Natural Chicken Grill and step into the ice-cold air, reggae music blaring. THWAP goes the butcher's knife as it lands heavily on a chopping block, while an employee (who thankfully had no welcome spiel) asks you how your day is going. By this time you've noticed the amazing smells and the dozens of butterflied chickens sizzling away on an enormous grill. Suddenly, there is nothing in the world you want more. THWAP, THWAP.
The worker smiles and merrily grabs chicken after chicken to chop them into pieces for mixing with various ingredients that make up the "chops." I tried the "south of the border" chop ($5.49), an enjoyable mix of moist chicken breast, guacamole and cheese on spicy yellow rice. If you like big, hearty meals where everything gets pushed together and shoveled in, you'll love the chop dishes. My sister ordered the Latin version ($4.99), which had white rice and perfectly prepared black beans.
For a simpler meal, go for the quarter chicken ($3.49). Considering the name of the place, you can imagine how much effort they put into preparing the chicken right and it shows. Each bite reveals a tenderness and flavor that comes from the special marinade that they refer to on the menu as a "Caribbean-Mediterranean blend of herbs and juices." Whatever that actually is, it works.
Another notable thing about Natural Chicken Grill is that all food is in-house for a maximum of two days the only way to ensure truly fresh food. All the side dishes were satisfying, especially the balsamic tomatoes ($1.99), a quick toss of juicy tomatoes and red onions with dressing. Don't miss the house-made sauces. Of note are the curry mustard, a Natural Chicken standard, and the chimichurri, an enticing garlic and lime concoction made by "Papi" or Wilfredo Rocha, the 60-year-old Argentinian chef whose hand in the kitchen is responsible for luring our lunchtime tastebuds from hiding.