Strike Rotisserie Chicken Gold at Tio Pio West

In the pantheon of great foods, rotisserie chicken has got to be towards the top, somewhere just below fried chicken and above every other kind of chicken imaginable. You may say the secret ingredient is the chicken fat waterfall, created by rotating chickens stacked one on top of another. Now that’s some Chinese water torture I can get into.

Golden brown skin is the key to what makes rotisserie chicken so great, but once you add super cheap prices, Latin style side dishes, and Peruvian aji (green sauce), you’ve got a real winner. Sound good? Well then head to Tio Pio West (the original is in Brooklyn) on 36th btw. 5+6th, where $7.50 will buy you half a chicken, rice, beans, and plantains. Oh, and not to mention a fairly big cup of aji.

What I got and a +/1 after the jump…


So you’re probably saying to yourself, “Zach, what gives? That doesn’t look like half a chicken to me!” And my only reply is to say, I screwed up. That’s right. I ordered the 1/4 chicken combo, with rice beans and plantains (at the equally cheap price of $5.50) thinking to myself, I could write just as informed a post of Tio Pio having eaten a 1/4 of a chicken, as eating 1/2 a chicken- so why not go for less chicken and supplement my lunch with some Treats Truck action on the way back to work.

Halfway through my lunch I realized what a huge error I had made. I ordered the white meat, because rotisserie wings are like a gift from god- but the breast meat is always going to be drier than dark meat. It was still pretty delicious, but after polishing off my wing, I couldn’t help but think I could have kept going (if for no other reason than to have something to dip into my aji, which despite being more watery than I’m used to, still managed to hit the spot with its spicy green goodness.) 

The rice, beans and plantains were fine, but if you’re not into the Latin sides, they have got a steam table full of others to choose from, including pasta, veggies, french fries, and a decent looking mixed salad. The steam table also had fried shrimp, fried chicken, fish, and meat stews- which I may go back and try, but it will be hard to walk into Tio Pio and not order the chicken.  Combos will run you $5.50 to $9 depending on what you order (and how much of it), but the chicken is by far the best deal (and the most delicious).

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)

  • Um… it’s rotisserie chicken.  And it’s cheap.
  • A lot of good side dish options
  • I love to eat alot, and you can’t get more food for cheaper anywhere in Midtown.  ($7.50 for half a chicken, and side dishes.  Come on!)

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • The white meat can be a little dry
  • You can get better latin food in Midtown at places like Margon & Sophie’s Cuban
  • The Peruvian green sauce is way too watery (and not spicy enough)

Tio Pio West, 46 W. 36th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-239-6633


  • I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!

  • I went looking for this the other day, but couldn’t find it. Will need to head over here as a replacement for the old Spanish Blimpie.

  • I just tried this place out for lunch, 1/2 chix, platanos, rice and beans, $7.50, and delicious. In fact, I’m even willing to forget the Zen Burger incident in light of this revelation. My only complaint is that the meal was not entirely filling, next time I’ll have to get another side.

    The best part is that unlike Margon’s chicken, I don’t need a nap, and my stomach doesn’t feel like I just drank a bottle of canola oil.

    That said, I can’t completely give up on Margon, because they’re still the only ones I know who make batidos de guanabana.

  • there is also another new location of tio pio at 34th between 2nd and 3rd – and they deliver! i’m pretty sure this chain is related to Pio Maya, the tacqueria on west 8th between 5th and 6th which is equally awesome

  • Sounds like a rip-off (albeit a good one) of PIO PIO, the reknowned chicken chain of Queens that now has an upper east side location and will soon have one just out of the Midtown Lunch perimeter on 34th & 2nd. Their green sauce is good enough to chug by the gallon.

  • Isn’t there a Pio Pio or something like that on the UWS around 96th or something?

  • Sure is, Mamacita.
    94th and Amsterdam.
    Same chicken, same aji, same cramped quarters, same solid (but not great) sangria.

  • Went there today. Good chicken. Good plantains. The dry part of the half chicken is easily solved by the green sauce- which is spicer and tastier than Sophie’s. Didn’t have a watery problem with mine. However- be advised that while your container of green sauce looks large, its probably only half full and you may want to ask for 2.

    Also a whole chicken is $7- you can skip the rice and beans and plantains and get an entire chicken for less. Not a bad deal.

  • Checked it out with my sister today. Our green sauces were spicy and creamy. We each got 1/4 chicken with rice, beans and plantains for $6. Chicken was ok. They gave me white rice instead of yellow rice but it was surprisingly good. The rice was steamed in chicken oil. Do you remember if they charged you tax? 2 lunch specials and a Snapple ended up costing $14.50. I’m trying to figure out if they miscalculated, if the total includes tax or if the Snapple cost $2.50

  • Wow. Absolutely fantastic chicken. Why, you ask? Because it was well seasoned! Nicely salted. Absolutely peruvect execution of the rotisserie concept. Bravo.

    Also — they were frying up some beef. “What,” I asked, “is that?”

    “Oh, it’s beef,” they answered.

    “Where is it on the menu?”

    Shrugs. I figured it was for their own lunch. They were out of plaintains. I asked the register girl if I could have some cole slaw, instead. The girls consulted with the boys on the fry line for ~45 seconds, with my food container open. Finally they reached a decision, and the fryer cut off a generous piece of beef, plopped it onto my rice beside my chicken, and the girl bagged it up with a sweet, sweet smile.

    Moral: the people here are very sweet and their food sure is good, but no habla ingles…

  • No I didn’t think they charged tax since they just charged me $7.50 straight up…

  • A happy Crackhead……….there is,indeed, a god.

    45 seconds of ya life they wasted there……

  • Life well wasted, Dr. McBagel. Have a good weekend.

  • Pio Pio (34th between 2&3) is now $9.50 for a half chicken and sides. It is a sit down restaurant that looks nothing like the pictures above.

  • Tio pio is a great place to eat I



  • Wow Zach…you nailed this one. I’ve been dying for some good chicken for lunch and though this place is alittle OOB for me,the nine block walk was more than worth it. The chicken is massive and the sides (rice and beans and mashed potatoes) are giant portions and sooooo good. It’ll definitley be worked into my rotation.

  • The rotisserie chicken at Tio Pio West was great. The above reviews led me to believe that that rice, plaintains and mac and cheese would be the only alternatives, but the warming trays had other choices (e.g. fish) as well.

    I had the “daily special” of quarter chicken (dark), rice and green salad. The skin was crisp, and meat was moist and flavourful. On a Tuesday afternoon at 12:30, there wasn’t a lineup.

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    So TASTY! In 2 weeks I have already gone there 3 times!
    I always got the 1/4 chicken, white meat. Since its the white meat other places tend to dry it out, but all 3 times the chicken was tender and juicy. I’ve had the rice and beans mix which was ok, the plain yellow rice which was ok, and then the white rice with red kidney beans..(I had to ask if they had beans separately because it’s not offered on the warming trays). White rice was the best out of the 3! And that whatever the green spicy sauce it called. I LOVE it!

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