Cha Cha Chicken is located at 1906 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, just a stones throw from the beach. You’ll order your meal at a counter (the staff is super friendly and ready to answer your questions), then choose a seat. The atmosphere is casual with an outdoor and indoor seating space. The decorations are colorful and eclectic, and the restaurant has an overall relaxed feel. I would imagine this place is an excellent space to hang out after a long day at the beach.
Some friends, Andrew and Aditya, accompanied me on this food adventure and in the end, they were totally in love with this place, as was I. First, we made sure to try the juices. We ordered each type of juice: Mango-Guava, Watermelon, Cantaloupe and fresh squeezed Lemonade. All were crisp and fresh with no taste of artificial sweeteners. The juices are also textured but not too pulpy.
In order to have a well-rounded dining experience, we split various plates. Each entree comes with two side orders, so we made sure to order a variety. The sweet potatoes complemented the meal nicely, but we hit the jackpot with the fried plantains, which had a perfect texture (not too firm, not overcooked) and added the perfect amount of sweet to the multitude of other flavors in the meal.
The coconut fried chicken ($11.50 for 1/2 lb) was tender and moist. The combination of coconut flavored batter and sweet mango dipping sauce gave a tropical twist to the fried chicken.
The ropa vieja consisted of smoky, spicy shredded steak with vegetables in a red garlic onion sauce. I was glad to have the other plates to accompany the ropa vieja, because the flavor is spicy, bold and overwhelming on its own.
Considering the generous portion size and quality of the food, the prices at Cha Cha Chicken are a complete steal. The bold, colorful flavors and dining experience makes the drive out to Santa Monica totally worth it. I will definitely return.