Family-owned Campestre Chicken in Lincoln Park blends Latin America flavors
Downriver's new Campestre Chicken has brought juicy, charcoal-roasted rotisserie chicken with flavors of El Salvador, Peru and Mexico to Metro Detroit.
Opened in June by Melvin Gamez Sr. and Jr., the carryout-only spot isn't the first rotisserie chicken joint in town — it's not even the first Camprestre Chicken, the family has another location in Maryland — but it is the newest.
Marinated poultry with Peruvian spices is cooked over charcoal for 2 ½ to three hours and served as whole, half or quarter chicken meals. The rotisserie chicken meat is also a protein option in the tacos, burritos and quesadillas. The pollo comes with two sauces, a green mild sauce that I want to put on everything (celery is what makes it green) and a more spicy orange habanero sauce that has heat but doesn't murder your mouth.
The flavor-packed chicken — juicy, seasoned and gloriously smoky — is also sold as a family deal with two whole chickens, four large sides and a 2-liter of pop for under $40. Sides offered a la carte or with the combos include coleslaw, rice, french fries, black beans, vegetables, salad, plantains or thick cassava or yuca strips that look like french fries but are more dense.
Gamez's Salvadoranroots shine in the pupusas, puffy flatbread stuffed with beans and/or cheese and topped with crunchy, shredded cabbage and a thin, tomato-based red sauce.
"That's the typical way you eat pupusas, everybody in El Salvador eats them like that. If you don't have the tomato sauce and the cabbage, you're missing half the plate," said the younger Gamez, 23. He says the pupusa recipe has been in his family since he could remember and is the same one that his relatives used at the pupusería they had in their native El Salvador (which they fashioned out of their garage).
Campestre Chicken also serves seafood dishes, sandwiches and salads. Gamez says "campestre" means "free range" or "something free."
Father-and-son team own and operate the new spot, and recently relocated to Lincoln Park, where they have extended family. The younger Gamez said they tried to make a go of it in San Francisco after leaving Maryland, but costs for the restaurant were too high, and they found the Downriver suburb of Lincoln Park more suitable for both their home and business.
While there are a few tables inside to eat, the business is mostly carryout. Call in your order and follow the enticing smell of roasted chicken all the way down Fort Street.
Campestre Chicken, 3419 Fort in Lincoln Park, is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and 11 a.m-8:30 p.m. Sun. Call (313) 914-7522 or (313) 914-7587. View the menu on the website, campestrelp.com.