You can't drive very far in the Arlington, Virginia area without running into a restaurant serving pollo a la brasa, a.k.a. Peruvian chicken. As many times as we've seen the signs, we'd never made it into a restaurant to check out the chicken hype. Opportunity struck last week as we played the "where should we eat?" game with visiting family and someone suggested Peruvian food. 388 mostly positive Yelp reviews led us to a packed parking lot in Arlington to try El Pollo Rico.
El Pollo Rico is a no-frills cavernous room featuring several rotisseries for roasting the famous birds. It's a good thing they have so many rotisseries because people come in and order chicken like it was going out of style. The ladies in front of me ordered six chickens to go. The staff keeps the line moving quickly and before we knew it, we were carrying our trays to a table in the dining area.
The menu is short and keeps the focus on the chicken. Chicken comes with a choice of two sides (rice, beans, tortillas, french fries, or coleslaw). The rice is standard steamed rice, which is helped in the flavor department by a generous dash of their green hot sauce. The fries and coleslaw were nothing to get excited about. The chicken, however, was juicy and flavorful and worth a return visit.
I can see El Pollo Rico being a great stop before a picnic or as an easy meal for a group. A whole chicken (with 2 sides) will only set you back $14 so you can feed a lot of hungry mouths on the cheap. Our group of 4 ordered one and a half chickens and it was almost more than we could handle.
Second Thoughts from B
On a dark and stormy night, four intrepid souls ventured outside the city gates in search of sustenance. Their journey of peril and heroic perseverance led them to an oasis of exotic and worldly cuisine of the highest order. In their moment of triumph, the victors sang hymns of exaltation to the heavens to celebrate their good fortune.
OK, back to reality. We found a chicken joint in Arlington and in the words of Miley Cyrus (or at least what I know of her from SNL), it was pretty cool.
I just don't know how excited I can get about chicken. It was good but as a staple of home cooking, I'll never associate it was fine dining or something that I crave. Still, as a reliable and irreplaceable part of my diet, I'm happy to have stumbled across another good option. And I guess that is what El Pollo Rico is... another good option. File it under the "cheap, fast, and in the area" category. (That's CFITA for you government folks)