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Chicken Rico, Local Pollo a la Brasa Chain in Several Area Locations

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Right across the street from Goddard Space Flight Center is Cipriano Square, anchored by K-Mart, and featuring such restaurants as Ruby Tuesdays, Five Guys, Baskin-Robbins, Burger King, and Papa John's. Chicken Rico has been open about a year, and is exactly the type of independent restaurant that catches my eye. Unfortunately, I didn't care much for their 1/2 Chicken ($6.95), which relied heavily on garlic and cumin, but was ultimately bland and dry. It came with two sides: The yuca was very deep fried, had been sitting out, and had a mashed-potato-like consistency on the inside; the chicken fried rice (50 cents extra) was very oily, and laid to rest after two bites. The sauces, one yellow and one green, fared no better.

On their carryout menu, Chicken Rico advertises "fresh made soups" and daily Peruvian specials, such as Cau-Cau (beef tripe, $6.99), and Pescado Frito ($8.50).


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The bad news is that the Cipriano Square (Greenbelt) location of Chicken Rico closed; the good news is that (assuming this is the same company), the brand seems to be doing just fine (website). It has a long and tortured history, and is in several locations, both in the DC and Baltimore regions. (Thanks, KL)

I realize I'm the only person in the world who does this type of work, but one of the hardest things to do in this "industry" is keep track of Pollo a la Brasa chains. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this wasn't the same ownership as the location in Greenbelt, but for now, I'll assume it is.

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This thread cued me in to the fact that the location on the unit block of H Street NW, underneath the Walmart, belongs to a chain.  Unusually, that was the trigger for a visit when I needed lunch for two in that area this week.

Two of us shared a whole chicken family meal: 1 chicken, 2 large sides, $17.99.  The chicken did not disappoint: a large chicken with generously seasoned, crispy and crackly skin and moist flesh underneath.  Cleavered into four quarters, each quarter makes a filling lunch for one, and we were left with two quarter-chickens for subsequent meals.  A side of plantains was a standard pile of deliciousness and generously portioned.  A side of yucca was fabulous, but likely atypical: the yucca tray was approaching the dregs when we ordered, so all the remaining crispy bits of well-done yucca were poured atop our portion.

Ultimately, unless the food is flawed (dried out, tasteless, etc.) it's hard for me to distinguish among the many Latin-style chicken joints around town.  Chicken Rico - at least for one lunch at the H Street location -- is a fine example and fills a great need in that location for delicious, economically-priced*, lunches and dinners.

*The whole and half chickens are where the value is: a half-chicken is only a $1.80 upsell from the quarter-chicken; the whole chicken, a $1.80 upsell from two quarter-chickens.

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