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Cheap Eats: Wonderful Peruvian in underrated Union Square

Cheap Eats: Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken and Grill

Often overshadowed by the relatively livelier squares like Davis, Porter, and Harvard, most Tufts students, including myself until very recently, are not aware that Union Square is a cultural and dining destination in its own right. Located around the intersection of Washington Street and Somerville Avenue, Union Square boasts some of Somerville’s greatest store offerings—think record store, vintage furniture, Korean grocers, and plenty of independent cafés and restaurants. The area includes Diesel Café’s sister, Bloc 11, tapas haven Casa B, and the infamous The Neighborhood Restaurant. With so many café and restaurant options to choose from, my friends and I find it rather difficult to choose at all. That is, until we stumbled upon Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken and Grill.


We arrived for dinner at around 8 pm on a Friday night, and were immediately seated at one of their ten or so tables. We had the nicest server who recommended us their signature dish, the charcoal chicken. For about 10 dollars including tip and service, you can get a quarter chicken – with either white or dark meat – with a salad and a choice of side. You can choose from fried sweet plantains, sweet potato fries, french fries, fried yucca, or tacu tacu (rice and beans). The three of us decided to go with the same order, which was a quarter white chicken with plantains. We also shared an empanada (a beef-filled pastry) that came with some delicious yellow and spicy green jalapeño dipping sauces.


We did not order any drink or dessert, though they did sound delicious and definitely worth a try. Some of the most notable ones were a purple corn drink, Peruvian cola, Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), and tres leches cake.

The place’s ordinary storefront means it would be all too easy to pass by without a second thought. But don’t let the exterior fool you, for Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken and Grill is not to be missed. While neither my friends nor I have ever had Peruvian food before, we really enjoyed our meals at this restaurant. Needless to say, our taste buds left very satisfied, and so did our wallets. The only downside was the guilt we felt from having never visited before, even though we’d lived over a year in the Medford/Somerville area. But you know what they say, better late than never.


Interested? Take the Joey to Davis Square and catch an 87 bus. Stop either at Somerville Avenue at Union Square or Bow Street at Warren Avenue. The trip takes about 10 to 15 minutes from the Davis T stop. Let me convince you again that the venture will be worth your time, although you can now order your Peruvian fix online as well.

Ambiance: B+

Service: A

Food (taste): A 

Food (presentation): B+

Price: Approximately $10/person

Overall: A-

25 Union Square
Somerville, MA 02143
Neighborhood: Union Square

(617) 623-7972

-Andari Gusman

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