Dude Food: Pollo Campero
Noah W. Bailey
Each week the Dude Food guys assess the 'masculinity' of Dallas area
dives. The more fried meat and junk on the walls, the better the
Dude Factor: 8, or Jaime Viñals, on a scale of 1 (Sergio Andrade) to 10 (Daphne Zuniga)
The logo for Pollo Campero (that's "country chicken," gringos) is awesome. Note the bird in a cowboy hat, extending a hearty howdy with a side of Fonzarelli "aayyyyy." How could you not wanna bro down with this chicken?
Obviously, I had to check this place out, so I sent out the secret Dude Food signal and assembled a posse to sample this Guatemalan import, which has recently opened two new locations in the Oak Cliff area.
The Cockrell Hill Road store is brazenly located across the street from a KFC. We ordered various combinations of chicken (both fried and grilled) along with some of Campero's signature Latin sides (yucca fries, black beans and rice and a meaty stew known as Campero beans).
Surprisingly, every combination arrived on an actual, honest-to-god plate with actual honest-to-god silverware, a nice touch for a fast food joint. A quick visit to the salsa bar (Pollo Campero's chicken comes with tortillas for do-it-yourself tacos) and we were ready to chow down.
Noah W. Bailey
The grilled chicken was moist and flavorful, marinated (so-they-say)
for 12 to 15 hours and tasting of citrus and spice. The fried chicken
was a revelation, however: pressure cooked and light on the grease,
crunchy and juicy with taste to spare. It was no exaggeration when an
employee walked by and said "Y'all tore that chicken up, huh?"
While gnawing on bones, Dude Food associate Ricky pointed out the convenience of the Cockrell Hill location for those seeking a pre-Rangers, Cowboys or Six Flags meal, which come to think of it, has been a need on I-30 for years.
Considering you can get a bucket of this for the price of of two dogs and two drinks, it's a no brainer--unless it's $1 hot dog night at the ballpark, which should be a national holiday.
Just do go if you're in a hurry, as Pollo Campero doesn't appear to keep the same breakneck serving pace as a Wendy's or McDonald's. Even worse, they might be out of half the menu items, a challenge we ran into at the Illinois Ave. location when we visited last week.
And while we appreciated the knowledge and enthusiasm of the employees, one more "so, did you like the chicken?" might have kept us from going back, at least to dine in. Imagine if Conn's were a restaurant and you might begin to understand. Save that overnethusiastic-service-with-a-smile stuff for the housewives, Campero--we're just some dudes out for some chicken.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.