You might see birds spinning when you're dazed and confused, that explains the chickens. But what's up with the rabbits? Why are they there? Brasa Roja (which translates to red hot coal, according to owner Jorge Gacharna) introduces Irving Park residents to the other white meat: rotisserie rabbit.
Watch scores of them spinning over a charcoal flame ending up on plates for any number of Colombian families in this restaurant equally distant from the Brown and Blue Line Irving Park stops.
For years, Brasa has been burning down the house in previous Northwest Side locations; this third dine-in gives Colombians eager for familiar comforts, and anyone on a quest for Latin cuisine outside of Mexican and Puerto Rican fares, another choice while choking the already limited competition.
The vibe doesn't scream Colombian restaurant at first glance, the way perhaps Sabor A Cafe's quaint-festive setup shouts. Brasa carries over the banquet-style seating charts that worked for the area's taco huts in a room hued with carnation pinks and squash yellows. Paintings offer colorful accounts of aboriginal life in the South American nation and if the setting doesn't tell you enough about the culture, utilize the free wi-fi and do some research.
No gas ovens here, everything from lamb to whole red snappers flickers on an open pit. The chicken receives rave reviews, but the steaks deserve some love, too. Why not pair 'em up? Gacharna recommends the char-broiled chicken and New York strip steak combo served with a potato, cassava and plantains ($13.95). Additional sides include corn pancakes with cheese and homemade pork rinds ($1-$3.50). Wash it all down with exotic fruit-flavored juices, or simply, a bottle from home; Brasa is BYO with no corkage fee.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez