Cheap, groovy, global rotisserie chicken at Spinnerie 

click to enlarge A piece of tasty, organic, free-range chicken and two sides cost well under $20 at Spinnerie, a politically correct fast-food spot on Polk Street. - GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • A piece of tasty, organic, free-range chicken and two sides cost well under $20 at Spinnerie, a politically correct fast-food spot on Polk Street.
Spinnerie, a new fast-casual spot on the corner of Polk and Pine streets, has a lime green glow. I like to think it’s the glow of the Future, in which organic, free-range rotisserie chicken and a choice of three sides made with local ingredients can be had for under $13.

It’s Chipotle gone chicken.

There are feats of efficiency and ingredient-sourcing inside. Behind the counter is a gleaming wall of twirling Mary’s chickens, spatchcocked (deboned) and flattened out to look like Rorschach ink blots, glistening with juice periodically sprayed on them as they twirl.

Beside the Chicken Wall is a hydroponic herb garden. And deeper within, every accompanying side — from gravy to kale apple salad to a warm corn pudding — sits in neat, orderly rows behind the counter glass. The place pulses to cardio-pop, and the staff calls out names in a mildly frenetic tone. The line moves swiftly and almost every table is full.

I have a tendency to eschew impersonal places to eat, but for those looking for ways to eat affordably and healthfully while keeping up with a fast-paced city lifestyle, Spinnerie is a good option that values sustainability. And the food is exceptionally tasty. It’s what I consistently hope prepared food at Whole Foods is going to taste like, but frequently does not.

There are two types of chicken: a Mediterranean-style chicken, herbaceous with thyme; and the spicy Peri-Peri chicken, tinted a dangerous-looking red-orange (from African bird’s eye chilies). They are both juicy and flavored down to the bone.

You can order a whole chicken for $14, or a quarter, so you can decide between light and dark meat. Dipping sauces cost a little bit. I took particular enjoyment in the garlic sauce, which is thick with pulverized raw garlic. The tangy and fresh-tasting chimichurri is a good choice, too.

As for sides, the gluten-free mac and cheese is a personal favorite — creamy and cheesy, the pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and topped with breadcrumbs which taste palpably of olive oil.

Spinnerie has a nice kale and apple salad too — not too sweet, and juicy enough to allay the roughness of the kale leaves. The roasted cauliflower, glistening in olive oil, is spiked with capers that give the dish a nice kick.

The only disappointment was the tri-tip which, though tender, lacked flavor.

What efficiencies are required to use farmer’s market ingredients and organic chicken, cook them quickly and well at low cost, I can only imagine. I admit it’s something to marvel. If I’d just stepped off the bus on the way home from a long work day, this place would be an oasis to me. It would make my life easier.


Location: 1401 Polk St., S.F. (at Pine Street), S.F.

Contact: (415) 345-1999,

Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. daily

Suggested dishes: Mediterranean chicken ($5), gluten-free mac and cheese ($2.75), kale and apple salad ($2.75)

Price range: $2.75 to $14

Reservations: Not accepted

Credit cards: All major


About The Author

Cynthia Salaysay

Cynthia Salaysay

Dining writer for The S.F. Examiner.
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