Home for the Holidays – Pollo Rico

December 28th, 2007 · No Comments

2007.xmasbreak.foodeating 001Home for the Holidays
a holiday special series

Lunch at El Pollo Rico
Thursday December 20th, 2007

By Jason Chin
Eat Vancouver writer

As per tradition, I’ve headed home for holidays. Home for me is Washington DC metropolitan area, specifically Northern Virginia. Unlike past years, I thought it might be interesting to document some of the dining I do here because although it might not be highly accessible to Vancouverites, it’s an interesting point of comparison and relevant to anyone who might be traveling to this area.

2007.xmasbreak.foodeating 002The main difference to me between DC and Vancouver’s dining scenes is in the ethnic cuisines. You’d be hard pressed to find a better selection of Chinese cuisines than in Vancouver, outside of China of course. The DC area saw a huge wave of immigration from Mexico and Central and South America over the past several years, resulting in taco trucks, papusarias, and pollo a brasa (more on this later) on nearly every corner. There’s also a good variety of Korean and Vietnamese restaurants, but the Chinatown is pretty weak and it’s all Cantonese. Mexican, as well as Central and South American food is what I like to focus on when I come home for the holidays because it’s pretty much impossible to get in Vancouver. It’s also possible to get a good meal for $5 here, which is pretty much impossible in Vancouver – another benefit, especially with the favorable exchange rate these days.

Polla a brasa in Northern Virginia refers to a type of Peruvian wood fire roasted chicken. I’m not sure if the particular spice rub used is Peruvian, or if the first few restaurants were run by Peruvians, but I do know that many of the families that run these aren’t Peruvian these days. The general consensus for the best pollo a brasa is Pollo Rico near Ballston for the juiciness of the meat and the flavor of the spice rub. As an added bonus, it’s only $4.10 for a complete meal of a quarter chicken, fries, and cole slaw. Beat that Swiss Chalet. A lot of the other pollo a brasa joints have a better selection of sides, such as rice and beans and yucca fries, but Pollo Rico is cheaper and has better chicken.

2007.xmasbreak.foodeating 004I went here this past Thursday with my dad and brother and it was just as good as I remembered. Each order of chicken includes a container of white and green sauce. The green sauce is pretty much just pureed jalapeno at Pollo Rico, but other places will puree it with cilantro and lime. The white sauce is some kind of spiced mayonnaise that is a delicious dip for the chicken. To wash it down locals like cans of Inca Cola, an extremely sweet soda and terrific foil for the spicy-smoky chicken. Dipping the ridiculously juicy chicken in the different sauces is a lot of fun, and while I’d prefer more variety of sides, for $4.10 I really can’t complain. If you ever find yourself in the Washington DC area, this local institution is a must-try.

El Pollo Rico
932 N Kenmore St
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 522-3220

Tags: Holiday Specials

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