#23. Quarter, Half, or Whole Chicken at the Surfin' Chicken

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Sorry, folks: On my last trip the Surfin' Chicken, I forgot my pinche camera. In lieu of the bird, I present a vintage T-shirt. Dig the neon!

Because ustedes gentle readers love lists, behold the latest entry in our Top 100 dishes list that continues until Best Of--at which point, we'll give you MORE lists! Now, on with the show...


Don't believe the hype; do believe Dave and Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA. Tijuana is safe for travel--if you don't bring problems, problems won't come to you. I love trips there, if only because breakfast during those days means El Rincón del Oso and lunch happens at a restaurant I've eaten at for nearly 25 years: The Surfin' Chicken in San Clemente.

It's not mere nostalgia that makes me return, or that owner Jose "El Cuatro" Martinez comes from the same Zacatecan rancho as my dad. Plain and simple, it's the bird: charbroiled, tossed whole on the grill, recipient of a blizzard of chile powder, hurricanes of lemon juice, left on the grill until the juices and powders seep into the meat, and the skin turns into a crispy, translucent glow. In a land where chicken comes rotisserie style, a la brasa, grilled and even fried, the Surfin' Chicken's pollo is the Kelly Slater of the bunch.

DON'T order the chicken in taco form; you don't get any skin that way. Order as a quarter, a half, or a whole chicken.

Surfin Chicken, 71 Via Pico Plaza, San Clemente, (949) 498-6603.

The rest of the list!

#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
#68. Korean Beef Rib Sandwich at Kaffa
#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
#65. Seven Courses of Beef at Thien An
#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at Doner G
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon
#46. Linguini with Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina
#45. Chamoyada at Natural
#44. Meatloaf at Memphis
#43. Paletas at Delicias de México
#42. Omakase at Sushi Shibucho
#41. Odessa Sandwich at Moscow Deli
#40. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
#39. Crepes con Caramel at Anepalco's Cafe
#38. "Cobra" Chicken Sandwich at Memphis at the Santora.
#37. Beef Shawerma Plate at Sahara Falafel
#36. Flan at Taleo Mexican Grill
#35. Ahi Poke at Fish Camp
#34. Chao Chow Rice Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau
#33. Sweet Corn Soup at Raya At The Ritz Carlton
#32. Reuben Sandwich at Harry's Deli
#31. Enchilada Combo at Baja Fish Tacos
#30. Torta Ahogada at Los Primos
#29. Beef Panang from Thai Nakorn
#28. Quesadilla de Huitlacoche from Los Chilangos
#27. Haven Burger from Haven Gastropub
#26. Vegetarian Combo Platter at Tana Ethiopian
#25. Pecan-Sea Salt Tarts at Old Vine Cafe
#24. Fish Burrito at Los Cotijas

Location Info

Surfin' Chicken

71 Via Pico Plaza, San Clemente, CA

Category: Restaurant

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