If I had to rank the fast food I hate the most, fried chicken would absolutely be at the top. But, Pollo Campero had been calling me softly,
whispering clucking in my ear. I argued and fought with it. I told that dumb-looking mascot on the store's sign that I didn't want his food and nobody, not even a chicken, can make a red bandanna and hat look cool.
And yet, there I was. In the drive-through. I ordered a grilled chicken bowl with rice and borracho beans with a side of sweet plantains, mostly out of curiosity then anything else. I was feeling optimistic.
Then, this really nice guy at the window asked, "Have you ever eaten here before?"
No. Why, did my grilled chicken bowl give me away?
"Then, would you like to try a piece of fried chicken? It's not deep-fried. It's pressure-cooked."
Sure, I thought. If he feels that strongly about it. Besides, it would be totally rude to turn down free food.
And, guess what. That was the best dang chicken leg I've ever had. Disclaimer: I don't eat a lot of fried chicken, but have dabbled in it here and there. Compared with what I've had before, it was awesome. The batter was full of spices (which are secret, of course), but not slick with grease, and juicy meat fell off the bone. Stupid fried chicken! (I would prefer to hate it.)
The chicken bowl was good too -- not as great as the fried chicken though. The beans had bacon and chorizo, and they were better. Next time I'll probably just get beans with grilled chicken. Wasn't a big fan of the plantains, but I completely attribute that to a texture thing (denser than a sweet potato), not for lack of flavor.
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I did a little research and Pollo is a "Latin" restaurant originally out of Guatemala. Their U.S. headquarters are right here in Dallas, and they have more than 300 restaurants worldwide. According to HispanicBusiness.com, overall U.S. sales average $1,900,000 per store.
Dang, I bet P. Diddy's 21 KooKooRoo's don't do that good.
If you've driven past a Pollo Campero a hundred times before, but have never given it a second thought, well do so now. And if you're a fan of the fried bird, then definitely make an effort to seek one out.