I'm psyched about a new restaurant called Chaka Chaka, and not just because it's five minutes away from my office.
The place also happens to make a delicious jerk chicken sandwich that chef-owner Charlie Blonkenfeld says is the signature dish at his week-old eatery, located just south of Chase Field, next to the northwest corner of 7th Street and Buckeye (1009 S. 7th St.).
It didn't have the mouth-searing heat you find with some jerk chicken. Instead, it was just a warm, pleasant kind of spiciness, with spicy seasoned mayo slathered on chunks of chicken, tucked into a unique poppyseed bun with shredded cabbage, fresh basil, and scallions. I washed it all down with a bottle of Mexican Coke.
The compact menu features egg sandwiches topped with chorizo and potato or mushrooms and spinach, a Schreiner's chorico (Spanish sausage) and egg sandwich with peppers, onions, queso fresco, jalapeno, and mayo, and a Hebrew National kosher dog topped with peppers, onions, queso fresco, jalapeno, and mayo.
All the sandwiches are $5, except for that jerk chicken, which is $6. You can also grab a side of garlic fries with spicy may for $2.
The restaurant has a few tables on the front patio, but is more of a takeout spot. Delivery is also available. In the way of atmosphere, it's cheerful, colorful, and has a cool Patti Smith skate deck painting next to the counter.
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Blonkenfeld says this is his first stab at entrepreneurship. Before opening Chaka Chaka, he was the executive sous chef for catering company Fabulous Food.
What the heck does "chaka chaka" mean, anyway? Apparently, it can be anything from Jamaican slang for "unkempt" to Spanish slang for "sex."
"Just Google it," he told me.
Chaka Chaka serves breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call or text 602-561-3110 for info.