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Is there a restaurant in your town that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t? You’ve walked past it a million times. You’ve smelled the delightful aromas and seen happy patrons… but you’ve just never stopped? For me, that place was Cha Cha Chicken. It’s now one of my favorite restaurants and the inspiration for my latest recipe, Always Bet on Black Bean Soup.
Cha Cha Chicken is family-owned-and-operated by Rick Prado (above) and his mother, Elvira Prado. They’ve been serving up an inventive menu of Caribbean cuisine for over twelve years on the corner of Pico and Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica, California… just a couple blocks south of the Santa Monica Pier and steps away from the beach! We had the pleasure of meeting Rick just as he was finishing up a batch of freshly squeezed watermelon juice. Yum! And oh, sorry ladies… I forgot to ask Rick if he’s single ;)
The food at Cha Cha Chicken is just as fun and exciting as its colorful Caribbean ambiance…
I loved the signature dish: Cha Cha Chicken (above), oven roasted chicken smothered in a delicately spiced Jamaican jerk sauce. We also sampled the Coconut Fried Chicken, crispy coconut battered chicken served with sweet mango sauce. And of course, we devoured the Black Bean Soup, a flavorful puree of spiced black beans with fresh diced tomatoes, crispy corn strips and a dollop of sour cream. Truly inspiring.
The Jamaican jerk sauce at Cha Cha Chicken is the best we’ve tasted (and Betty’s had a lot of jerk in her day). The fried plantains and dirty rice are right on. We look forward to trying the Salmon Negril as well as the Ropa Vieja the next time we doesn’t pass by this friendly, affordable and delicious Santa Monica find. Check out the entire menu here, and if you’re in the SoCal area make a point of stopping in for a meal you are sure to love. (KCRW listeners: Show your Fringe Benefits card and receive a discount!)
BREAKING BETTY NEWS!
The treats arrived a little early for Average Betty this month! Flip to page 67 of the October 2008 MacLife Magazine and you’ll see Betty in the latest MacGourmet Deluxe advertisement for Mariner Software. It’s an honor for Betty to represent MacGourmet Deluxe and appear in such a well-respected publication. Thanks, Mariner Software! Betty loves you!
WHAT’S BETTY BEEN UP TO?
Betty flew home to Tampa, Florida to help throw a surprise party for Mama Betty! Betty is the last of six, and all five of her brothers and sisters were there along with Betty’s nine nieces and nephews. Betty was also reunited with her Aunt Billie & Uncle Roy from Milton, Florida. Betty’s Aunt and Uncle used to have a farm in Alabama where Betty spent a few summers… those memories were the inspiration for Fish Camp. Fortunately, Betty’s Aunt is nothing like Camp Counselor Betty!
But it wasn’t all fun and surprises for Betty! Tween Betty’s Mom hosted the surprise party and Betty played Sous Chef for the day, taking in a lesson on Focaccia Bread. Betty can hardly wait to share this delicious recipe with you!