Review: Chicken Meal from Pollo Campero
Recent rumblings of an all-out Chicken War in the Twin Cities grabbed the B-section headlines of the local paper. Apparently, the owner of about 14 local KFC franchises is headed for bankruptcy and was looking to unload his property. Guess who wants to buy up these failing stores? Popeyes. Throw into the mix, the rumor that Chick-fil-A was looking to expand from its few on-campus locations to a number of sites around the metro area and you’ve got yourself a royal cluck-off. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have always been a one-chicken town with the possible exception of when Hardee’s used to keep chicken under a heat lamp in the late 80’s and early 90’s. With all this dust-up, one might wonder if there’s still room for someone to challenge the corporate machine that some left-leaning politicians might call Big Chicken. A recent drive down Robert Street into South St. Paul turned up a quiet challenger. It goes by the name: Pollo Campero.The Pollo Campero website reveals they are an upstart franchise with about 50 locations nationwide, mostly in New England, Florida and southern California. The one I found is the only location listed in the 5 state area. I was particularly intrigued by this restaurant because of the implications of a cross between
Mexican food Guatemalan/Central American food and fried chicken. I suppose I’m generalizing to say that fried chicken is not, itself, Mexican food Guatemalan/Central American food, but as it turns out, I was indeed in for an interesting combo. As I entered the establishment, and looked around, I half expected to see Walt and Jesse at a booth in the corner, but after concluding that the zit-faced teenager behind the counter was probably not a drug kingpin, I re-focused my attention to the menu. I chose the Fried Chicken Dinner with sides of corn tortillas and fried plantains.It seemed like the best choice to be able to sample their basic offering and add in a little traditional Mexican Guatemalan/Central American flair. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with the corn tortillas so I hit the salsa bar and grabbed a few flavors. Then, after taking a few enjoyable, but not overly exciting bites of the chicken leg, I decided to shred some of the good meat off with a fork and make myself a taco with my side of tortillas, the shredded chicken, salsas and some sour cream which came with the meal. Now we’re talkin’.The fried chicken didn’t strike me as a real competitor with the likes of KFC, or the other newcomers to our market, but I think mostly had to do with the lack of flavorful breading we’ve come to expect. The chicken itself, when I took it off the bone and enjoyed it as part of my taco, was quite good; moist and tender. The salsas were top notch, obviously born of authentic recipes and ingredients. It had been awhile since I’d tried plantains and these were better than I remember the last ones being. All in all, the addition of a little Mexican ***we get it, it’s not Mexican at all*** flair to the run of the mill chicken made for a nice diversion.
Pros: Good quality food; authentic salsas and other Mexican food offerings; interesting combo - fried chicken and tortillas. ***Correction: Not Mexican
Cons: Not a front runner for fried chicken of the year trophy.
Grubbing on-the-go: N/A
Overall GrubGrade: 7.00/10
More Info: http://www.Campero.com