As soon as you walk into Tropical Picken Chicken on Six Fords Road, you can’t help but be in a good mood. The bright colors and upbeat Latin music make you excited to eat here. Opening earlier this year, Tropical Picken Chicken is located in a fairly quiet spot in a plaza on the corner of Six Forks and Wake Forest Road. The restaurant serves up a wide variety of authentic Latin food for a very reasonable price. I must admit, from the outside it doesn’t look like too much. When I saw it I knew it would either be a hidden gem, or just not good. Spoiler alert: its really really good.
As our server showed us to our table, it was hard to ignore the joyful atmosphere of the restaurant. It also has a very casual feel, with benches to sit on and silverware in buckets on each table. The menu is actually a lot larger than I thought it would be. There is a wide variety of authentic Latin food to choose from. You’ll find everything from tacos and empanadas, to arepas and mofongo on the menu.
On this day, my boyfriend and I were pretty hungry, so we decided to start with a couple shared appetizers. The first item we tried was an Alcapurrias ($2.99), which is a fried plantain fritter stuffed with ground beef. I had never had anything like this before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but it turned out being delicious. It was a whole plantain, stuffed with ground beef, and then fried. The sweetness of the plantain balanced out the ground beef perfectly and made for a very satisfying appetizer. It was definitely a little heavy, so this is not something to get if you’re going for a light snack.
We also decided to share a chicken empanada ($2.49). I love pretty much all empanadas, but this one could have been a little more flavorful. I will admit chicken was probably the safest option, so I would suggest going for one of the more flavorful options like Jerk Chicken, Beef, or maybe even Guava. For my meal I decided to go with a Chicken Arepa ($4.50) and man was it a good decision. The arepa itself was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The arepa was denser and more filling than other arepas I’ve tried, but I loved it. It was stuffed with shredded chicken, pico de gallo, and queso blanco. This arepa was definitely the highlight of the meal. We also shared a large order of Yucca Fries ($5), which were perfectly crispy. I would suggest dipping them is the spicy salsa verde, or even in the simple, yet delicious ketchup and mayo mixture they provide. The large order was the perfect size to split between two people as a side.
Overall all of our food at Tropical Picken Chicken was truly scrumptious. The fun atmosphere and friendly servers made the experience even better. I really felt like all of our food was fresh and authentic, and it didn’t break the bank either. I can’t wait to go back and try some other Latin classics like Mofongo, roasted chicken, or some of the tropical sandwiches they have to offer. Tropical Picken Chicken also has another location in Wake Forest, so you can check them out there as well.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.