Happy chicken

illustration by mark stivers

There’s a unique Mexican restaurant called El Pollo Feliz (4717 Whitney Avenue in Carmichael), which translates to “the happy chicken,” right around the corner from my new home. Over the summer, when I first moved in, I’d pass the restaurant every day, see an 8-foot-long smoker in the parking lot and smell barbecued meat. Last month, I finally checked it out and was pleasantly surprised by the mom-and-pop operation specializing in barbecued chicken. Because the meat is slow cooked in a smoker and slathered in dry rub, the flavor and smell are powerful and deliciousnone of that bland El Pollo Loco stuff. The restaurant serves the traditional Mexican chicken by the piece, so you can order everything from a few wings to a whole chicken. Add in American sides such as potato or macaroni salad (or the more traditional rice and beans) and it’s a perfect takeout barbecue meal. Find the happy chicken online at http://jhshaw17.wix.com.