Best of Washington: Rotisserie Chicken

A beef expert, fish expert, and pork expert gave us unbiased opinions on the subject of chickens. Photograph by Vincent Ricardel.

Rotisserie chicken has become a staple of the midweek rush when there’s no time to cook. The roasted birds are on sale from supermarkets to ethnic specialty-chicken shops. To taste-test some of the many chickens around town, we recruited three Washingtonians with no conflicts of interest when it comes to poultry: Karen Batra, director of public affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Richard Gutting, former president of the National Fisheries Institute; and Audrey Adamson, director of government relations for the National Pork Producers Council. Here’s how they rated the birds.
The winner (4 stars): The chicken from Chesapeake Chicken & Rockin’ Ribs, purchased at this Eastern Shore import (7007 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-7634; closed until December 15; $13.95 whole, $7.35 half), was the unanimous favorite. Tasters called it tender, flavorful, and buttery. “A bit greasy but in a good way,” noted Adamson.

Also good (3.5 stars): Peruvian chicken spot El Pollo Rico (2917 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington, 703-522-3220; 2541 Ennalls Ave., Wheaton, 301-942-4419; $12.50 whole, $6.98 half) impressed with its “nicely spiced, nontraditional flavor,” as did local chain Chicken Out (several area locations; $10.99 whole, $8.99 half) for its “juicy, basic American chicken.” 

3 stars: All tasters liked the full-flavored kosher chicken from Wegmans (11620 Monument Dr., Fairfax, 703-653-1600; 45131 Columbia Pl., Sterling, 703-421-2400; $7.99 whole). 

Also-rans (2.5 stars): Whole Foods Market (various locations) and Wagshal’s Delicatessen in DC’s Spring Valley (4855 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-363-5698).

2 stars: Chicken on the Run (4933 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-9004), Giant, and Safeway.

The disappointments (1 star): Tasters didn’t like the smoked flavor of the chicken from Magruder’s and were underwhelmed by the bird from Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown (3276 M St., NW; 202-342-2500).

This article appeared in the December, 2007 issue of the magazine.