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Gone Crazy for The Crazy Chicken

By Rachelle Bowden in Food on Nov 3, 2005 12:02PM

2005_11_el_pollo_loco.jpgEl Pollo Loco just opened a restaurant in Logan Square, its first location outside of the US Southwest. Like many others, Chicagoist was there PRONTO to check it out. We'd had El Pollo Loco in California and were eager to see if it lived up to our memories. We were also excited to have a flame grilled fast food chicken alternative to KFC and a Mexican alternative to Taco Bell. El Pollo Loco promised to be as fast and quick, but to taste better.. and to be better for you. You can actually eat pretty healthy there.. try that at Taco Bell!

So, were we disappointed? Not with the chicken. What they do is marinate the chicken up good in some sort of super citrus sauce and then they flame grill it. We had both pieces of breast and wing and a burrito. In both the chicken was cooked perfectly. Moist, juicy, full of flavor. For sides we had pinto beans (bland), mashed potatos (good but didn't taste real - think KFC mashed potatoes) and vegetables (you can't really mess vegs up). Even if the sides were a bit lacking, it's the chicken you come for and the chicken was great!

2005_11_rey_colon.jpgChicagoist spoke to Alderman Rey Colón whose district (35) El Pollo Loco is located in. We'd heard he'd been lobbying for the restaurant and that he was a big fan. Alderman Colón told us he did everything he could to get the first El Pollo Loco to open in his ward. He believes that Logan Square was the location for El Pollo Loco's first Chicagoland restaurant because of the demographics. Logan Square has the widest variety of Latinos in the city - Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Guatemalans, Columbian, Dominican, and many more - which would help guarantee the restaurant's success, since it was started in Mexico and the menu has a lot of Mexican dishes.

Alderman Colón said that he, like us, thinks that the chicken is the best thing on the menu, but that the sides were lacking. Specifically, he said, "I like more spice in my rice (& beans)." But that hasn't stopped the crowds from gathering. Along with local Latino families, Chicagoist and many others from all over Chicago have been flocking to Logan Square to try El Pollo Loco. Alderman Colón said that when he goes by and sees it so packed he thinks they must be giving something away in there.. "when they are just selling pollo!" Colón went on to say, "It's great to see so many regular and new faces in the neighborhood" and "Pollo Loco provides a great boost to an already busy area that is only getting better every day."

El Pollo Loco may have been started south of the border, but it has been serving up chicken in southwestern United States for more than 20 years. We hear there are plans to open up 10 stores in the Chicagoland area.. so El Pollo Loco: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!