A selection of dishes from Brasas photo by Meera Nagarajan

Brasas in the Delmar Loop: a first look at the Peruvian chicken restaurant from chef Andrew Cisneros

The rotisserie spot is the Jalea co-owner's second standalone restaurant

Brasas, the new Peruvian rotisserie chicken restaurant from Jalea chef-owner Andrew Cisneros, opens on Thursday, July 11, at 6138 Delmar Blvd. in the Delmar Loop. The restaurant’s specialty is Cisneros’ take on traditional Peruvian pollo a la brasa, served with a selection of sides and sauces, with the menu also offering a few hits from Jalea and other Peruvian dishes.

Building on the concept Cisneros (a 2021Sauce Ones to Watch honoree) first work-shopped at Original J’s Tex-Mex and Barbecue and later during a series of pop-ups, Brasas has now set up shop in the approximately 1,100-square-foot brick-and-mortar that previously housed 12oh7 Herban Eatery. The restaurant seats 21 diners, with five tables and seven spots at the bar. Table reservations are available on Tock, while the bar is reserved for walk-in customers. Cisneros said he plans to add two patio tables in front of the restaurant in the near future, which will increase the capacity by another four diners.

Brasas’ interior is comfortable and casual in comparison with some of the city’s more refined restaurants, but it’s a nice place to get your fingers dirty eating rotisserie chicken and dipping yuca fries gleefully into the delicious array of sauces offered here. The art displayed on the walls provides clues about the Brasas experience before you even see a menu: photography and art featuring Peruvian references sit alongside assorted poultry-related art and advertising prints (including the large Brasas logo piece facing the bar).

Like so much of what Cisneros does at his restaurants (and at the Sanguchitos by Brasas kitchen inside Perennial Artisan Ales' South City brewpub), the signature pollo a la brasa offers an elevated perspective on a traditional Peruvian favorite. The chicken is brined for two hours, then marinated for anywhere from 13 to 16 hours. The marinade includes lime juice, beer, herbs and spices including rosemary, oregano, cumin, fresh black pepper, panca paste (a guajillo dried pepper paste) and mirasol paste (a dried yellow pepper paste), among other items. “Those are the main ingredients that you actually taste in the chicken,” Cisneros said. After marinating, the birds spend about two-and-a-half hours cooking low-and-slow on the rotisserie. “We can do about 35 chicken in two-and-a-half hours,” Cisneros added. Most of the hard work is done on a gas rotisserie, but the chicken is finished over Japanese charcoal on one of two large yakitori grills.

Diners can order quarter-, half- or whole chickens, with the option of adding one side or two. The sides include rotisserie potatoes cooked in chicken drippings, crispy steak fries with delicious roccoto pepper fry sauce, puree de papa (mashed potatoes with Boursin cheese), Peruvian bean stew, maduros (sweet plantains) and more. Whatever side you choose, your chicken will come accompanied by three spectacular sauces: the huancaina (pepper cheese sauce), the roccoto, and the cilantro-infused aji verde. When we named Jalea our No. 2 Best New Restaurant of 2022, we identified the range of sauces as one of the restaurant’s strengths, and Cisneros looks intent on repeating that feat at Brasas.

Brasas’ menu also includes a number of items that are either fixtures at Jalea, or which have been rotated through the menu at the St. Charles restaurant. There’s the essential ceviche in leche de tigre (literally, “tiger’s milk”) marinade, with the option of carretillero (fried pieces of calamari and/or shrimp) added on top; aji amarillo chicken “curry”; grilled pork belly with garlic rice; and chaufa aeropuerto, Peruvian fried rice with pork belly, rib-eye, shrimp, egg omelet, sesame, Nikkei sauce and Passenger chile crisp. The menu also includes additions like the smoked wings, which use a punchy dry rub, and papa rellena, a potato croquette stuffed with a flavorsome beef stew filling.

Cisneros said he’s encouraged by the rise of a “young scene” of Latin American restaurants in the United States – Argentinian steakhouses, Brazilian steakhouses, Colombian concepts and much more – that are locally owned and original while also being authentic and true to themselves. “For us, that's, awesome,” he said. “We're doing Peruvian food our way, but respecting traditions and being original to ourselves.” As for his next moves, Cisneros said the future of his restaurant group lies in concepts that drive that originality to the next level.

At the time of publishing, Brasas was still waiting for approval for a liquor license. When that happens, a fully stocked bar will offer four signature cocktails, as well as beers including Waska, a Peruvian-style lager brewed with heirloom quinoa that Perennial Artisan Ales created in collaboration with Cisneros. A tight selection of wine will also be offered, and Cisneros said the cocktail selection will be added to as time goes on. For now, bartender Caitlyn Svetlund will be – liquor license pending, of course – whipping up signature drinks including the pisco sour, the Chilcano (pisco, ginger ale, lime and bitters) and drinks that utilize fresh fruit including the Watermelon Firecracker (tequila, watermelon and lime) and the strawberry-flavored Gin + Berry Smash.

Brasas is open for dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and the restaurant also serves lunch on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.