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El Pollo Campero - A Guatemalan Fried Chicken Franchise with Eight Area Locations


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Surprised that there was no thread here, but I guess most of the prior discussion occurred on The Other Boards.

I had lunch on Sunday at the one in Wheaton, and have now been to all four area locations. The chicken had balanced flavors spice-wise, but was not as juicy as I remembered. The beans and plantains were great as usual. Rice and tortillas, not so much. And their horchata is better than the tamarindo.

My favorite location is still the one in Bailey's Crossroads. Apparently, there is one opening at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg next month. Having grown up in Montgomery Village, I suspect it will do quite well. There will also be one in Columbia Heights, but I don't know about its timetable.

Although the comparison is largely apples/oranges, Popeye's still has better chicken IMO (and larger pieces) but Pollo Campero provides the better overall meal once you factor in the sides.

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Is that also the chicken shop that's been "coming soon" for quite some time on 18th Street (roundabouts between Blue Fin and San Marco)? Does anyone have info on that outlet?

I got no info, but it ain't a Pollo Campero. I think it's going to be called "Las Canteras" or something.

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I always drive by this place and have always been curious. I order my usual chicken wings, and found it a little dry. But I liked the balance of flavors and the lack of breading on the chicken. It makes me kinda think of KFC skin if it wasn't steamed to death. I found the horchata pretty disgusting - powdery and a little chunky and bean-y. But I'd go back just to see what other parts of the chicken and the sides might be like.

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I read about Pollo Campero maybe five years ago in some restaurant trade magazine that my dad happened to have. I don't remember a lot about the article other than the stories of people flying with buckets of chicken from Guatemala to the US because it was so good and that it was one of the few fast food chains that didn't start in the US.

I have been there once of twice, it is fine, nothing to write home about though.

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I always drive by this place and have always been curious. I order my usual chicken wings, and found it a little dry. But I liked the balance of flavors and the lack of breading on the chicken. It makes me kinda think of KFC skin if it wasn't steamed to death. I found the horchata pretty disgusting - powdery and a little chunky and bean-y. But I'd go back just to see what other parts of the chicken and the sides might be like.

I stopped in a couple weeks ago at the Wheaton location remembering one of Don's Lettres claiming it to be his favorite fast food fried chicken. I, too, found the chicken on the dry side and, like Don, salty as hell, by I also enjoyed the crispyness and other seasoning. If it's a choice between KFC and here--and that choice exists in Wheaton--El Pollo Campero wins in a heartbeat. The real highlight was the side of fried plantains. Rice and beans were just pretty good. I didn't even notice the salsa bar until I was leaving so I tasted each in a little cup and liked all three. They're worth using next time. And I thought the place warranted a "next time," as in the once every 6 months my body will let me eat fast food fried chicken.

Pax,

Brian

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I, too, found the chicken on the dry side and, like Don, salty as hell, by I also enjoyed the crispyness and other seasoning.

I visit the Bailey's location, and while sometimes the chicken is a little salty, it's also consistently crispy and juicy.

Two words: Yucca Fries. Not greasy, super crunch outside, super creamy inside. I think there's some kind of reconstutited something going on with them, but they're light and tasty. Maybe they're the Pringles of Yucca, but this gringa girl loves 'em.

I think it's nice that if you eat-in, you get a real plate and silverware, plus table service.

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After driving past the Bailey's Crossroads location once a week for several months, I stopped in today at about 1 to get a late take-out lunch. The grilled chicken (leg quarter) had nice flavor, but had a deflated appearance and was greasy, suggesting to me that it had been sitting under/on heat for a while. The black beans and rice were pretty bland, but not terrible. The corn tortillas were . . . corn tortillas. At less than $7 it was a reasonable lunch option, and was gluten-free. I think I'll try some of the other chicken places I pass on that weekly run, for comparison and to find something a little better.

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While getting my car serviced at Radley Acura, I walked across the street for my first taste of Pollo Campero. For some reason I thought this place served Peruvian chicken instead of fried chicken. I ordered two pieces dark with a side of yucca fries. The order came with 5 pieces of yucca fries and an uninspiring pink sauce. The chicken was juicy but not particularly crispy. I don't normally eat fried chicken, but when I do, I usually take the skin off. I ate these with the skin on so I can taste the full Campero. They were good but nothing special. I don't know what to do with the soft tortillas. They checked on me twice while I ate. Never had that happen before at a fast food joint.

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While getting my car serviced at Radley Acura, I walked across the street for my first taste of Pollo Campero. For some reason I thought this place served Peruvian chicken instead of fried chicken. I ordered two pieces dark with a side of yucca fries. The order came with 5 pieces of yucca fries and an uninspiring pink sauce. The chicken was juicy but not particularly crispy. I don't normally eat fried chicken, but when I do, I usually take the skin off. I ate these with the skin on so I can taste the full Campero. They were good but nothing special. I don't know what to do with the soft tortillas. They checked on me twice while I ate. Never had that happen before at a fast food joint.

If anyone wants a blast from the deep, deep past, this is one of the first eG/dr "meet-ups" I can ever remember. When El Pollo Campero first arrived in the DC area, it had 90-minute lines!

Is this chicken still super-salty?

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1 hour ago, ElGuapo said:

Pollo Campero is opening a new location in Silver Spring, next to The Fillmore.

I went to Pollo Campero (Columbia Pike in Bailey's Crossroads) last year, and it was *fantastic* - salty as hell, but fantastic. The pinto beans and rice were very good, too; the fried plantains were worth ordering, but if there was a "weakest link" of the main components (other than the salt content), it was the plantains. Tortillas come with the meal, too, but they're generic and unremarkable.

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I was at the Wheaton store last Saturday for the first time in several years.  I was disappointed to see that they did not have the salsa bar.  This was unfortunate because I recall that the salsas and jalapenos had been a nice addition to the meal.  

With my 2 pc dark meat order, they gave me a dinner roll rather than tortillas (I don't know if tortillas were an option).  The roll was unappealing.  The Campero beans were good as was the chicken.  

 

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I have a question about El Pollo Campero, in particular, their yuca. 

Yuca is a tuber, and generally has a very fibrous texture; occasionally, I get fried yuca that has a texture more like mashed potatoes. Today at El Pollo Campero, I had fried yuca with this characteristic - definitely not to the extreme of "mashed potatoes," but lacking the same, firm, root-y mouthfeel that I enjoy.

Is this like overcooking a baked potato and/or leaving it sit out overnight, where it becomes mushy? These were irregularly shaped, so I can't imagine they were processed (cf: Arby's curly fries) - maybe the cassava is boiled before being fried or something?

PS - Beef-n-Cheddar GROSS

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7 hours ago, Al Dente said:

I feel like I experienced some culinary discrimination (I'm not Asian), but the meal was enjoyable and the price was right.

Hell, I went into El Pollo Campero the other day, and they were so tickled to see a white boy trying to speak Spanish that I became the centerpiece of the cashiers. 

I *really* wowed 'em when I ordered tortillas instead of rolls. 🙂

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