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Outstanding Peruvian rotisserie in Oceanside

Aji panca and purple corn juice add to the fun

A modest storefront definitely worth a second look in South Oceanside.
A modest storefront definitely worth a second look in South Oceanside.

If you've never been to South Oceanside — and I'd wager most haven't — you probably don't imagine you're missing much. Lately, you'd be wrong. Urge Gastropub's on the verge of opening a spacious 42-tap brewpub with a 300 bottle whisky list. And Revolution Roasters recently brought quality coffee to this quietly happening stretch of the 101.

Place

Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie

1902 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside

Nestled right between them is Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie. I spotted it a couple times driving by, its name simultaneously telling me what to expect, and making me crave it.

Panca's not new to the area — Cordon Bleu trained chef Iole Revilla opened the place in 2012, pairing her culinary skills and native Peruvian tastes. Panca refers to the aji panca, a mild chili pepper native to the South American nation that informed a lot of indigenous Incan recipes. If eating here is any indication, that was one tasty cuisine.

The small dining room is decorated with photos of peppers, large kernel Andean corn and the obligatory shot of Machu Picchu. Repurposed shipping pallets balance against brick walls to lend a bit of rustic vibe.

I walked in around lunchtime to find a decent weekday crowd for a tiny restaurant, and noticed most of the dozen or so diners were too busy eating to speak to one another. I grabbed a table and perused the short menu, which actually offers plenty of enticements. There are $9 sandwiches including slow-cooked pork chicharron and slow cooked beef asado. Entrées included sautéed beef lomo saltado and a cilantro beef stew called seco a la limeña, each at $13.50.

But I couldn't be swayed from the rotisserie chicken: $8.25 for a quarter, $11.50 for a half, and a whole starting at $18.50, depending on side options. Those include fries, sweet potato fries and Peruvian rice, a long grain white made with diced onions and garlic. There are also side salads, including quinoa, Caesar and Panca, which features chopped asparagus and artichoke hearts.

Without doubt the best bang for your buck lunch in Oceanside at $6.50.

I was deliberating between a quarter and half chicken when my waitress mentioned the $6.50 lunch special — a quarter chicken with a small salad and side dish. For that price I was willing to add one of the unusual drink options. I considered something called Inca Kola, or maybe the maracuya, aka passionfruit juice. But chicha morada was the one I couldn't imagine. Purple corn juice, sweetened with a little pineapple juice.

The drink, served by the bottle, was fun to try. But the food was fun to eat. The Panca salad and rice were really good, and the chicken outstanding. Tender, succulent, with a beautifully spiced crispy skin. It was served with an aji panca sauce and a garlic aioli, and my waitress suggested using them both on the chicken, and with the rice if I liked. I liked. The hormone free, two-day marinated bird was on point, and left me wanting more. Next time, I'll order at least a half.

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A modest storefront definitely worth a second look in South Oceanside.
A modest storefront definitely worth a second look in South Oceanside.

If you've never been to South Oceanside — and I'd wager most haven't — you probably don't imagine you're missing much. Lately, you'd be wrong. Urge Gastropub's on the verge of opening a spacious 42-tap brewpub with a 300 bottle whisky list. And Revolution Roasters recently brought quality coffee to this quietly happening stretch of the 101.

Place

Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie

1902 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside

Nestled right between them is Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie. I spotted it a couple times driving by, its name simultaneously telling me what to expect, and making me crave it.

Panca's not new to the area — Cordon Bleu trained chef Iole Revilla opened the place in 2012, pairing her culinary skills and native Peruvian tastes. Panca refers to the aji panca, a mild chili pepper native to the South American nation that informed a lot of indigenous Incan recipes. If eating here is any indication, that was one tasty cuisine.

The small dining room is decorated with photos of peppers, large kernel Andean corn and the obligatory shot of Machu Picchu. Repurposed shipping pallets balance against brick walls to lend a bit of rustic vibe.

I walked in around lunchtime to find a decent weekday crowd for a tiny restaurant, and noticed most of the dozen or so diners were too busy eating to speak to one another. I grabbed a table and perused the short menu, which actually offers plenty of enticements. There are $9 sandwiches including slow-cooked pork chicharron and slow cooked beef asado. Entrées included sautéed beef lomo saltado and a cilantro beef stew called seco a la limeña, each at $13.50.

But I couldn't be swayed from the rotisserie chicken: $8.25 for a quarter, $11.50 for a half, and a whole starting at $18.50, depending on side options. Those include fries, sweet potato fries and Peruvian rice, a long grain white made with diced onions and garlic. There are also side salads, including quinoa, Caesar and Panca, which features chopped asparagus and artichoke hearts.

Without doubt the best bang for your buck lunch in Oceanside at $6.50.

I was deliberating between a quarter and half chicken when my waitress mentioned the $6.50 lunch special — a quarter chicken with a small salad and side dish. For that price I was willing to add one of the unusual drink options. I considered something called Inca Kola, or maybe the maracuya, aka passionfruit juice. But chicha morada was the one I couldn't imagine. Purple corn juice, sweetened with a little pineapple juice.

The drink, served by the bottle, was fun to try. But the food was fun to eat. The Panca salad and rice were really good, and the chicken outstanding. Tender, succulent, with a beautifully spiced crispy skin. It was served with an aji panca sauce and a garlic aioli, and my waitress suggested using them both on the chicken, and with the rice if I liked. I liked. The hormone free, two-day marinated bird was on point, and left me wanting more. Next time, I'll order at least a half.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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