Foodie on a Mission: In Search of the Best Chicken & Ribs
By: Diane DiMeo | February 2020
Any given day, along side streets, you will see ‘Costillas y Pollos Asados’, BBQ Chicken & Rib shacks with smoke billowing out of makeshift BBQ barrels
Signage for Costillas Pollos Asados
Photos by Bernardo Flores
Full split chicken & rack o ribs
Photos by Bernardo Flores
Foodie on a Mission 'In search of the Best BBQ chicken & Costillas'
Foodie on a Mission, or rather, glutton on a mission. I have no shame. None. Food is my life, my passion, my love, the very existence of my core, and I live to eat. My newest food obsession has been with BBQ Chicken & Ribs. I say ‘newest’ lightly, because I’ve always had an obsession with BBQ Chicken & Ribs. Actually, anything barbecued. That, and any other tasty morsels that may come into my vision.
Here in Tulum, and it’s surrounding areas, BBQ Chicken & Ribs seem to be an everyday ‘go to’ for the locals. On any given day, along side streets, you will see ‘Costillas y Pollos Asados’, BBQ Chicken & Rib shacks with smoke billowing out of makeshift BBQ barrels, with the smell of BBQ beckoning those who go past, to stop and sample the goods. But therein lies the issue: with so many Costillas Y Pollos Asados taunting and teasing you, how do you know which one is best? Easy. Try them all. Which is a HUGE plus for me and my obsession.
This month, to commence my mission, I chose to go to just 1 BBQ shack, hoping that I would find that one sweet spot who had the juiciest, tastiest BBQ chicken & ribs, to compare all the others too, which in itself is a task. Oft times, the meats here can be cooked, and cooked, and cooked, until it’s so dry it’s like eating jerky and there is nothing worse than eating overcooked barbecued chicken (or ribs for that matter). I feel like a cat choking on a hairball. Not that I have ever CHOKED on a hairball before, but I gather, the feeling would be quite similar.
The Costillas y Pollos spot I ventured into was simply called ‘Costillas Pollos Asados’. A very unassuming spot on Kulkican, amidst several other BBQ Chicken & Rib shacks. In order to save myself from the ‘cat choking on a hairball’ scenario, I communicated to the grill woman (who happens to be the owner, along with her husband), to please cook the chicken and ribs only 75% through. Which in reality, means perfectly cooked for those who like cooked soft and juicy grilled meats. Drooling, I waited and watched the BBQ master grill my meats, while her husband made my green juice to order. Normally, the meats are precooked, hanging out in coolers, and warmed up on the grill per order. However, because I asked to have it my way, they took out freshly marinated chicken & ribs and slapped them on the grill. Who am I to complain that it took around 35 minutes for them to be done? In 40 minutes, I was traveling back to my house with a ½ barbecued chicken, ½ kilo barbecue ribs, a shitload of warm tortillas, rice, cabbage salad, spaghetti, a plastic baggy of salsa and all for 150 pesos.
The chicken had such an amazing flavor from the charcoal and the marinade. It was perfectly cooked, juicy and I could all but keep myself from chewing on the bones. The Ribs were burnt in all the right fatty places, which gave way to the tender meat, surrounding the soft bones. I did different combos, interchanging between the rice, cabbage salad and spaghetti. The rice was a good companion, as was the cabbage salad. The spaghetti was something reminiscent of a can of Chef Boyardee, which admittedly, I rather enjoyed. Salsa? Burn your ass off yum yum made from fresh habaneros and tomatoes. What made this shack standout is that I can whatsapp them at anytime to preorder my BBQ. For me, this spot gets a 10!!
Tulum Eats Magazine is published 12 times a year, unless we decide to go on prolonged vacations. You can find the print magazine at select locations throughout the Riviera Maya, and in some East Coast establishments, where we will randomly place, during selective times. The website will be updated monthly, with selected materials that may or may not be the same as the print version. Look for us soon, in other states of Mexico.