Irving restaurant fulfills cravings for exotic, spicy peri peri chicken

There's a new spot to try for the DFW peri peri cult: A restaurant in Irving called Poblano's Piri Piri, which opened in the spring at 3636 N. Belt Line Rd.

Peri peri is the irresistibly flavorful spiced grilled chicken with roots in Portugal and Africa that's become a foodie treasure, not only because of its puckery, sweet, and spicy flavors, but also because it's in short supply, with only a few places to get it locally.

The centerpiece of Poblano's menu is their grilled chicken, which you can get with their signature piri piri sauce, a lip-smacking combination of lemon, herbs, and chiles. But they also have three other sauces: Lebanese, Mexican, and Tikka.

The chicken can be ordered whole or in parts, accompanied by sides such as their house-made fries with skins on; savory herbed rice; green salad; or a veggie salad combo with chunks of tomato, cucumber, and soft red onion.

They also do wrap sandwiches and even an obligator burger, and host buffets for special occasions such as Ramadan.

"We do everything grilled, with loads of flavor from our seasonings and sauces," says owner Muhammad Shakeel. "And yet our price is very competitive. A normal ticket would be $10 or $11, which compares to fast-food chains. But we are serving healthy food."

Lunch specials run from 11 am all the way to 4 pm, and they're also open late at night until midnight on weekends, which is their second-busiest time after lunch.

Poblano's comes with a little international flair. It's the American spinoff of a chain based in the U.K. called Roosters Piri Piri, which has 40 locations in British cities such as London.

The Irving location is the first, but Shakeel says he has plans for a couple more, possibly in Collin County, possibly in downtown Dallas. He has family ties to the Roosters chain, who gave him their recipes and their blessing to run with the concept, as long as he devised a new name.

"They said, 'You can take whatever name you like. We will give you all the sauces you need,'" he says. "And I think it's good on my part to be differentiated. And yet there are people who go there once a year, and they know this name."