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Flame-Broiled Chicken Tops a Very Simple Menu at New Bucktown Restaurant

By Alisa Hauser | March 4, 2013 9:56am

BUCKTOWN —  Chicken lovers, listen up. 

The Art of Chicken opens Wednesday at 2041 N. Western Ave. in Bucktown and has one thing on its menu: chicken.

A couple of years in the making, the small storefront features wooden floors, exposed brick and large windows that open onto the sidewalk and give the feel of a chicken coop, right down to the authentic chicken wire that separates the front counter from the dining area.

The Art of Chicken is owned by Christian Moreno, 29, whose family moved from Mexico to Bucktown in the 1960s.

Moreno hired artist Sam Kirk to develop the concept, design and theme of the restaurant, which seats 20 and has fake newspaper articles about two chickens, "El Jefe" and "Crazy Chico," plastered onto its walls.

"El Jefe" is a Spanish term for "the Chief" or "The Boss," and "Crazy Chico" translate to "Crazy Boy."

Both "El Jefe," which is marinated in its own juices and "Crazy Chico," which contains "an array of freshly chopped herbs and spices," according to the menu, are flame-broiled chickens served in quarter ($4.25), half ($6.25) and whole ($10.99) sizes along with warm pitas and mild or spicy homemade salsa.

Sides range from $1.90 to $3.50 and include Mexican-style Buttermilk-boiled corn on the cob topped with mayonnaise, butter, cheese and chile piquin (a hot chile pepper spice); mac and cheese; regular or sweet potato fries; Spanish rice; and steamed vegetables.

While the menu is simple, each chicken has a playful backstory.

According to the wallpaper, El Jefe comes from "a long line of capons" and his father, "Don Pollo, was well known for pecking his way to the top of the poultry crime family in the mid 80's."

The story continues: "The top Capon in the Bucktown area has recently been in the press for his first foray into the restaurant business. Some say it's just a cover, a legitimate front for his real job."

Moreno grew up in Bucktown and most recently worked in real estate management, though he said he has always wanted to own a restaurant. 

"I lead a healthy lifestyle and chicken is very healthy, especially when grilled," Moreno said.

His brother Manuel Moreno, 24, will help to run the venture along with a half dozen cousins and uncles, one of whom owns a dairy farm in Dorchester, Wis., that will provide fresh cheese.

Some of the cooks worked at well-known chicken restaurants before joining The Art of Chicken, but Moreno would not disclose where.

Moreno said he's working on obtaining a liquor license and hopes to have a sidewalk patio in front of The Art of Chicken during the warmer months.

The Art of Chicken will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Phone is 773-697-9266. The restaurant is offering a free side with any chicken entree through March 15.