Cha Cha Chicken Builds on Santa Monica Success in Northridge

Elvira Garcia Galvan and her family debuted Cha Cha Chicken in Santa Monica and now draw new fans in Northridge with bold Caribbean flavors.

Cha Cha Chicken has a lesser-known Northridge branch of a popular Santa Monica standby that dates to 1996. Elvira Garcia Galvan opened Cha Cha Chicken between Shearcuts and Valley Skate & Surf in a strip mall in 2010, featuring the same Caribbean menu and indoor seating with air conditioning, which is sorely needed in the deep Valley during summer.

The space features cushioned booths with bamboo backs, yellow-orange walls painted with a map of Las Islas Caribeñas circa 1650, angels holding a torn blue heart that reads "L’Amor Eterno," a Rasta preaching "One Love" and a rooster, aka El Gallo in Spanish. Bamboo hangs from strings in the window, along with emotive, handpainted tiki idols.

The décor is entertaining, but most people come for Cha Cha Chicken’s Caribbean comfort food. Coconut fried chicken may be your best bet. The batter contains coconut, which forms subtle, caramelized sweetness when frying in corn oil. Each plate comes with sweet mango and spicy jerk dipping sauces, a small salad and a choice of two sides. Dirty rice with black beans and baked skin-on sweet potatoes are both rewarding, though you may prefer fried plantains, corn on the cob, spicy Cuban fries or red cabbage slaw.

16912 Parthenia St., Northridge, 818-672-2130

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