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Jan 10, 2002 02:13 PM

HAVE TO HAVE recipes for Pollo Tropical (pork)

  • s

I know, I know it's a "proprietary blend" of juices and spices, but ... if I could just somehow re-create the roast pork they serve... yummmmm......

Any ideas anyone? I wrote to Pollo Tropical inquiring as to the nutritional information.


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  1. Pollo is cuban for chicken. Maybe you mean Puerco Tropical,which would be a pork dish.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Les

      No, Pollo Tropical is a fast-food chain that serves both chicken and pork. Tried the place last time I was in FL (a couple of weeks ago). Very cheap. I think someone with me got the pork, but I don't remember trying it. Most food served with rice and black beans and choice of other side, including boiled yuca, corn niblets, green salad, fries. Also offer yuca fries and fried plantains for a small premium. Chicken was kinda dry, but tasty. "Garlic sauce" on the yuca wasn't terribly garlicky, but lime juice and tabasco helped out. Nice, burnt-edged fried ripe plaintains though. Absolutely great frozen mango drink, not too sweet but very mango-ey.

      1. re: MU

        Actually, the name of the chain has been changed from Pollo Tropical to Tropical Grill.

        1. re: Gator

          That change must have been _extremely_ recent, since I was there two weeks ago and it was definitely Pollo Tropical then.

          1. re: MU

            Interesting. The name change here in Central Florida occurred last year. Wonder if the franchises up here were sold or something? I'll be down toward Palm Beach County next week and will try to keep an eye out for signs there.

            1. re: Gator

              I noticed the one on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando
              (the only Pollo Tropical I ever saw north of North
              Palm Beach) sporting an anglographic marquee, as you
              describe, which struck me as weird. I visit one occasionally off 103rd and the Palmetto Expressway in Hialeah that doesn't even have English subtext on the
              menu. It may be that they're trying not to scare off
              the Middle-American Disney trade with something that sounds too inscrutably ethnic. Not a problem in South
              Florida, where the general population is of a decidely darker and spicier composition. No, my friend, it is definitely Pollo Tropical below the Martin County line
              and shall be for as long as Castro reigns. May he hang
              in there a while longer, for I sure would miss these places were they to join the en mass repatriation of
              the Cuban community upon his much-anticipated expiration.

              1. re: flavrmeistr

                Hounds - this chain is not worthy all these discussions! Their major attraction, the chicken,is dry and all the rest of their food is terrible as well.

                The chain, started by a non-Hispanic dude, had grand plans to expand all over the USA. They failed in NYC (we know food) and Chicago big time. Yeah, Cuban food in Chicago goes over real well. They may still be in Union City, N.J. (big Cuban population) but I doubt it.

                Basically, their only initial success was here in Florida. So, they were smart. They looked to go south and started moving into Puerto Rico and I believe some parts of South America. They are doing much better - good for them. Now, lets forget them already!!

                We need to move on to what makes this website so great; recognition of our independent restaurant operators, who are giving us great food rather than these chains whose menus are developed for the unskilled to reproduce. I can barely eat a Burger King when forced to and simply refuse to even try consume a McDonald's burger anymore! The only one that is half way decent is Steak and Shake.

                Did you Hounds know that there is a 1-95 Interstate website where you can find the list of restaurants, current gas prices, and distances at each exit? Its fantastic.

                Found an independent BBQ restaurant (The Georgia Pig) in Brunswick, Ga. that was mentioned by the Sterns (Boy do these two look like they enjoy a good meal) in their Roadfood publication. Thankfully, I'll be able to avoid a fast food chain meal on our way to Savannah. And, isn't that what Chowhounds is all about?

                1. re: Chuck

                  Put the gun down and back away slowly, Chuck. That's
                  the great thing about America. You can eat where you want and discuss what you want, regardless of your
                  "skill" level.

                  1. re: Chuck

                    The Georgia Pig is one of my all-time favorite roadside spots! I always stop there - at least when it's mealtime or when my wife is not with me (bless her heart, she tries to take care of me but there's a lot of "bad dog" left in this hound). Enjoy - it's definitely better than any Pollo Tropical I've been to.

                    1. re: Chuck

                      Okay, Chuck......what's the I-95 website you're referring to? I somewhat agree with your view on giant restaurant chains. I normally avoid the chains (my idea of fast food is a bowl of Pho with some springrolls and a glass of Vietnamese iced coffee), but I will grab a burger or something at one of them for pure convenience when needed (normally about once a month or every two months).

                      Now, when I am vacationing at a location I avoid chains like the plague. Why would I travel even a couple of hours away (or thousands of miles) for vacation only to eat somewhere that I could eat at in my hometown? I love to eat at little family owned restaurants. Unfortunately, as you point out, the independently owned places suffer when trying to compete against the chains (more publicity, money, and notoriety). It's the nature or the business and the changing society over the years.

                      Hopefully things will swing back the other direction with the current trend of healthier more local eating, but in the meantime I will still do my best to support the local entreprenuers.....then again, that's where the chains started!!!!

                    2. re: flavrmeistr

                      The Pollo Tropcal in Orlando area (and Tampa too I believe) is TropicGrill. There are two in orlando, one on OBT by the Florida Mall and one on 436 near 434 near the altamonte Mall. I lived in Maimi for 30 years and I still think they are good. Better than what passes for Cuban food in central Florida.

          2. Get a good quality piece of pork - not a cheap butt or dark colored pork - stick with the light pink color and dice them into 1-1/2" - 2" cubes.

            First marinate the pork cubes for 30 minutes or so in a combination of fresh orange, lemon and lime juices and some salt. Keep in refrigerator. If you can find a sour orange, a combo of lemon and orange, use some of that too.

            Then drain the marinade well and re-season. This time, with some olive oil, fresh garlic, cilantro, black pepper and cumin for at least an hour. Keep in the refrigerator, too.

            The fruit juices will tenderize the pork and add some flavor. But, the real hit of flavor will be the second set of seasonings. I'd cook it on the BBQ just like they do - don't overcook it! Its ok if it is slightly pink you know. Grill some onions and put everything on a nice crispy roll or serve with black beans and rice.

            Good luck - I've eaten their chicken many times You can use this recipe on that, too, if you are happy with the results.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chuck

              The recipe looks real tasty, Chuck, except they
              deep-fry the pork instead of grilling it. Probably why
              it tastes so good.

            2. Pollo tropical is still under the same name in South Florida. The pork marinade is different from the chicken marinade. I worked there. I'm wracking my brain for the recipe. Proprietary blend, as you say. From what I recall, for 2 large Boston Butts, ( 12 lbs approx, each) 2 lbs of onions, in a red marinade, that was citrus based. Lime juice, blood orange, cilantro, oregano, and cumin, paprika. Marinate for 24 hours, and cover with foil. Roast, covered for 4 hrs at 400. I wish I could remember the details. $8 for one meal, when I can but Boston Butt for that.

              1. Ok 'Tards!!!!! So I just got home food from the drive-theu of "Pollo Tropical" here in Orlando off OBT. Im a South Florida native.......this is the ONLY place I can get chicken remotely like rhe Cuban diners from yesteryears. Help me out!!!!! Found a great place foe cuban sandwiches.....I Need some decent Ropa Vieja!!!!!!!! Help a girl out!!!!!

                1. The secret to ALL pork dishes in the tropics is Mojo Criolle. You can buy it in the grocery store. Marinate pork overnight in Mojo and roast slowly. (Can also be "injected" into the pork. If not available in your area (I'm in Miami. Lots of spanish food here) go online to Badia. They make the best.