Pollo Campero Delivers Fresh, Bright, Fun Flavors

Categories: Fast Times

Pollo Compero 2.JPG
Photos by Christina Uticone
This meal was not endorsed by The Guy in the Parking Lot.
A Sunday afternoon. A hangover. A trip to Penzeys to shop for Christmas presents. Are you starting to see the pattern forming? These exact conditions led to my recent, semi-successful trip to El Rey on Washington a few weeks ago and they are what led me back to the same neighborhood (neighborhoods, technically) this past weekend. My intent was to hit Penzeys first, then give Laredo Taqueria a whirl; I had it on good authority that these guys make a taco that would kill the ubiquitous Sunday hangover I've been rocking.

Unfortunately LT was closed, as I was informed by a very nice man in a pickup truck who was idling in their parking lot when I pulled in around 3 p.m.

"They'll be open again on Wednesday, baby girl!" he informed me, and then offered up several other suggestions for where I might procure a taco. I thanked him, but as none of his suggestions were within three blocks, I pulled into the next place I saw: Pollo Campero.

The empanadas looked tempting, so I ordered two of those -- a Cubana Pork and a Spicy Chicken -- along with my Yucatan Pork taco, and a side of quinoa and black bean salad. Slogans on the menu promised fresh Latin flavors, and there is clean -- if somewhat sterile -- cheery brightness to Pollo Campero. The staff manning the microphone and drive-through windows was genuinely friendly and put a smile on my face.

As did the food.

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Call me crazy (or selfish or stupid or wrong) but the food was great. The flavors really were fresh and bright. The empanadas were delicious: juicy pork and chicken, flaky crusts, and terrifically flavorful herbs and spices. I thought the Spicy Chicken could have been spicier, but the Cubana pork was the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The taco came wrapped in two corn tortillas -- whether that was a mistake or their M.O., I don't know -- but the meat was again tender and juicy; I didn't use even a drizzle of salsa or a dollop of sour cream. The quinoa salad was the perfect, simple side dish: cucumbers, onions and tomatoes made the beans and quinoa juicy, with a vinaigrette that gave the whole thing some zing. A touch of chili powder added smokiness.

The whole meal came in at $9.73 and I even managed to work out for a half hour later that evening. Not bad for a last-minute replacement hangover meal.



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11 comments
tinyhands
tinyhands

Now see, if you'd ever been outside the loop you'd have known that Pollo Campero has been doing brisk business on Bellaire Blvd for years. Or you could spend your money parking on Washington Ave.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Why would we call you crazy?  The food is good.  I like the traditional chicken, black beans, cucumber & tomato salad and yucca fries.  All good.

DerMusensohn
DerMusensohn

@EatingOurWords @snowcones "Penzey's" misspelled twice in Pollo Campero article.

ruthiejsf
ruthiejsf

@snowcones Pollo Campero is my favorite pick-up spot! Obsessed with the grilled chicken fiesta bowl. Great fried chicken, too.

Florida63
Florida63

We've had to school other Houston newbies to this.....you ALWAYS use two corn tortillas for a taco.  To question that outs you as a "furiner". 

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@tinyhands The new Pollo Campero 2.0, as it were, is totally different from the old Pollo Camperos. The chicken is the same, but all of the other menu items have been revamped at the new locations. Check it out sometime.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@tinyhands Most of my time spent OTL has been outside Texas. I've only been here three years. Take it easy, killer.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@Jalapeno Absolutely kicking myself for not trying the yucca fries.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@Florida63 I don't really make a secret of it. Houston, via NY & AK.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

@Florida63 It's a pretty slow process. May be too late for me to do anything but enjoy through the plexiglass. Thanks for the info; Josh and I were both curious.

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