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Chickening in

East Point's Chicken House dishes up homemade Mexican fare


The Chicken House beckons passersby with its brightly lit, festive air. Walls are the color of egg yolk and multi-hued letters pasted on the windows spell out house specialties. Perhaps it's just an illusion that the small house illuminates its corner of East Point with a sunshine glow at night, but with its various forms of chicken art stationed around the dining room, enthusiastic service and lively food, Chicken House is a small party indeed.

Bright as a new penny: Despite the whimsical chicken decor, the restaurant's interior is somewhat lackluster. Yet owner, host, server and one-man PR machine Ramon Restori is justifiably proud of his little joint. His whirlwind-fast service with a grin and a handshake create a cozy, inviting atmosphere. And proud he should be, as wife Linda's house-rocking dishes complement his careful attention to guests' needs.

Holy mole: All menu items, including the tortillas and mole, are made in-house. Tacos are a steal at $1.60 each. Stuffed with grilled or sauteed steak, grilled chicken, roasted pork or an unbelievably delectable, perfectly spicy homemade chorizo, a mix 'n' match plate of each kind makes an ideal appetizer. It's imperative to try poultry dishes at a place called Chicken House, and offerings like the chicken enchiladas topped with choice of sauce ($7.49) and half of a spicy, sticky and juicy grilled chicken ($8.50) don't disappoint.

On the initial visit, enchiladas slathered with mole were tasty, even for someone who doesn't particularly like the dark, earthy sauce. Enchiladas napped in red sauce, which I tried on my second visit, were even better. They allowed the handmade tortillas' sweet corn flavor shine and the chicken's buttery tenderness to be appreciated.

A rib special ($8.49) delivered the goods with succulent braised beef barely clinging to the bone, accompanied by caramelized onions and crispy pepper dice. Pork in red chili sauce ($7.49) gives taste buds a smack-down with a hefty punch of spice, then soothes them with melting chunks of meat. Special items such as tripe, tongue and barbacoa (which here means steamed and shredded lamb) are available on weekends.

Better plan on the flan: Overeating might be par for the course while visiting the Chicken House, but be warned that leaving without indulging in Linda's flan ($2.25) is a huge mistake. Closer to cheesecake in texture than the syrup-covered omelets most Mexican restaurants try to pass off as flan, Chicken House's version is just sweet enough and off-the-hook creamy. So rich it clings to the spoon like ice cream, the caramel-topped custard feels like velvet in the mouth, and it melts on the tongue. One out-of-town guest who couldn't get enough of the decadent treat had 30 portions air-shipped to her home in Florida.

Southsiders should consider themselves lucky to have this new, tasty and quite authentic Mexican joint on their side of town. Everyone else should hop in their cars or on MARTA and fly toward the coop.

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