Blakely’s Chicken & Pizza has a great story: named after and created for an autistic Villa Park High School graduate who loves to cook and host. Many of the workers at the cavernous restaurant are also special-needs adults, and a portion of the proceeds from to-go snack bags and salads helps to secure their employment. This heartwarming story is featured on fliers attached to each table, a reminder that food is sometimes more than just an opportunity to stuff yourself silly.
But don’t think of this review as a charity case because Blakely Larsen and his crew have perfected the art of Mexican-style chicken. An order of charbroiled pollo brings out the perfect hen: skin turned to caramel, white meat transformed into luscious pillows. Rotisserie is even better; the drippings each bird gets from the chickens twirling above it seep down to the bones, resulting in breasts, drumsticks and wings so plump you half-expect each bite to shoot out juices as though a water gun. Each meal gets accompanied by beans, rice and your choice of corn or flour tortilla—it’s like your tío‘s carne asada Sunday brought indoors with air conditioning and the friendliest staff this side of the Harvey Girls.
More chicken? Find it in a fine chicken and waffles, the meat turned into nicely fried tenders. Get it shredded in a large burrito far better than the space’s previous tenant (the forgettable chain Freebirds World Burrito) could’ve ever created. Calorie-conscious people can go with a Mexican chicken salad, veggies and roughage and cheese and salsa combining for something sprightly. There are also pizzas and hot dogs, but take a clue from its surfing-chicken logo and go with the birds.
That’s really it, save for the awesome rotating aguas frescas (last time I was in, it was watermelon) and Dole Whip worthy of the Tiki Room. And that’s fine: This county needs more chicken-only places, the better to offer affordable, delicious needs for the masses. Hey, Blakely: All you need is a Broaster®. Do that, and you’ll be on your way to becoming our own Colonel Sanders—and I’m sure you can create better commercials, too!
Blakely’s Chicken & Pizza, 1632 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 1A, Orange, (714) 771-2496.