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Pio Pio vs. El Pollo Rico

demigodh May 26, 2009 11:15 AM

Just had Pio Pio, a Peruvian Chicken place in NYC, for the first time this weekend. However, I felt that it paled in comparison to my favorite restaurant while in college: El Pollo Rico. The restaurants have totally different vibes; for example Pio Pio has a full menu while EPR only offers 1/4, 1/2, or whole chicken with fries and cole slaw. Those factors aside, I think EPR chicken is far and away better. I also like their sauce more (mixing the yellow and green ones together makes a sauce similar to Pio Pio) as I find it less sweet.

For those of you that have been to both...
Which one do you think has better chicken? Better dipping sauce?

  1. Gonzocook May 26, 2009 11:38 AM

    I agree with your assessment. But Pio Pio does have another thing going for it in addition to the more complete menu: it's within walking distance of EPR, should you hit that place at a busy time and the line is out the door.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gonzocook
      Lori D May 28, 2009 06:51 AM

      Pio Pio also has drive through, which is convenient when you can't find parking. But El Pollo Rico's chicken is far superior.

    2. s
      Steve May 26, 2009 11:46 AM

      There is a Pio Pio in Arlington, right near the EPR, soI suppose one could do a side-by-side comparison right here.

      EPR stands out because it is the one place where you can reasonably expect a chicken hot off the spit. When you see a long line at EPR, that is the best time to go. It means people have been waiting for a fresh batch of chicken.

      No other place can consistently put out that kind of experience, although several places in Arlington could do it if you get lucky.

      Best of both worlds: chicken at EPR, sides at Caribbean Grill in Arlington. At Caribbean Grill, they will freshly sautee spinach if you ask for it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Steve
        Dennis S May 26, 2009 11:48 AM

        And at Caribbean Grill they cook the yuca fresh, too!

      2. d
        demigodh May 26, 2009 01:53 PM

        did not know there is a Pio Pio in Arlington (guess I was lucky enough to be introduced to EPR first). that does make the comparison easier, i thought i was going to have to find people that have eaten at the queens pio pio and the arlington EPR.

        1 Reply
        1. re: demigodh
          chowsearch May 26, 2009 05:05 PM

          DC is blessed with good pollo but it'll be hard to beat the Arlington (Clarendon) EPR. PioPio seems to have slower turnover, meaning less likely to be hot off the rotisserie. We did some research here after the EPR in MD closed and reopened swankier nearby:

        2. s
          Sean D May 26, 2009 06:52 PM

          A few months back, I proposed that the new El Pollo Kiki Riki was a superior newcomer, compared to El Pollo Rico. While I still think they are good, I now have a new favorite: Don Pollo. (Located on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda and Viers Mill Road in Rockville.)

          In every single area, I found their food to be superior. The chicken was deeply season, always fresh, crispy-skinned, and it has an excellent color. They beat the pants off of everyone else, in terms of side dishes. (They really beat EPR with their greasy steak fries.) They offer a wide selection, including fries, fresh yuca, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and a black bean pico de gallo (which is to die for).

          And, yes...their dipping sauces are truly exceptional.

          Give them a try. I think you will be impressed.

          13 Replies
          1. re: Sean D
            Dennis S May 26, 2009 08:02 PM

            Weren't you behind the latest attempt at a pollo-off (which of course is bad in so many respects). Just wondering. It's been talked about for years under different conditions, but never executed upon.

            1. re: Dennis S
              chowsearch May 26, 2009 10:31 PM

              The MD Pollo Smackdown is still lurking in the research-gathering and discussion phase, with the eastern end of University Parkway places initially assessed. The project will never end, the pollo quality will be everlasting, and the hope shall never die for finding the best pollo in Maryland:
              Your input appreciated. Virginia is related by some chains like EPR, but is another story. I can vouch for the Adelphi Don Pollo branch at University and Riggs--it's a sterile drive through, but is clean, big, good parking, very tasty and nice countermen.

              1. re: chowsearch
                Sean D May 27, 2009 10:11 AM

                Just my thoughts on how this event can come together:

                - Probably needs to be an invitational event
                - Probably needs to be sponsored by some large organization that has respect in the Hispanic community. (A chamber of commerce, a television/radio station, or a large merchant.)
                - Probably needs to have some sort of substantial cash prize.
                - Probably needs to have some sort of title/trophy that gets awarded annually.

                I did not know about the long-standing problem with pulling this thing together, but I'd wager that the project hasn't jelled, due to one or more of these factors.

              2. re: Dennis S
                Sean D May 27, 2009 10:05 AM

                No, I wrote a review of Kiki Riki. The "pollo smackdown" idea was proposed by others. It's probably not a bad idea, but I think it will take some bigger (more organized) sponsor to bring it off.

                1. re: Sean D
                  chowsearch May 27, 2009 10:32 AM

                  I pledge $10.
                  How do the various Don Pollo's compare? I liked Adelphi.

                  1. re: chowsearch
                    Sean D May 27, 2009 02:06 PM

                    Ah...that's what we need - a Pollo-thon!

                    Both the Don Pollo's that I've been to (Viers Mill and Wisconsin Avenue) have had identical quality control - both excellent. You pay about $1 more than at other places, but I think the quality is worth the premium.

                    1. re: Sean D
                      comestibles May 27, 2009 05:36 PM

                      I, too, have only been to the Viers Mill and Bethesda locations (multiple times each), but I think the Bethesda location has superior product in terms of moistness, better yuca fries (crispy outside, soft inside in Beth; usually dry throughout in VM), cole slaw, and sauces [orangey in Beth (like the Crisp & Juicy) vs yellow in VM].

                      1. re: comestibles
                        Dennis S May 27, 2009 05:57 PM

                        Good thoughts. With everything, you're still going to piss off someone. Keep the guidelines strict and do it with apologies.

                        1. re: comestibles
                          Sean D May 27, 2009 09:06 PM

                          Oh yeah...one other thing. The Viers Mill location does not have the black bean pico de gallo....which is really, really good and unusual. (They have everything else, aside from this.) I've never had problems with the takeout I've gotten at Viers Mill, but based on the lack of black bean pico, I'd agree with Comestibles - go to the Bethesda location, if you can.

                          1. re: Sean D
                            chowsearch May 27, 2009 09:09 PM

                            Any reports on their Hyattsville branch?

                            1. re: Sean D
                              Sean D May 28, 2009 02:30 PM

                              I have a bit more information. I had lunch at the Don Pollo in Bethesda today. The manager there told me that they have a total of four restaurants, including three Don Pollos (Viers Mill Rd, Wisconsin Avenue, and the one in Adelphi), plus they own the Chicken On The Run shop in Bethesda.

                              Sounds like an effort to consolidate and build a local franchise/chain.

                              BTW - The chicken at Bethesda was superb today. They are also carrying a new canned horchata in their drink cooler.

                              1. re: Sean D
                                chowsearch May 28, 2009 02:53 PM

                                Thanks--that clears things up, the Adelphi branch on University east of Riggs is labelled Hyattsville on some maps. This branch has drive-through and now I'll know to ask for horchata.

                  2. re: Sean D
                    beauxgoris May 29, 2009 10:00 PM

                    I'm with you Sean D. = I'm now a huge fan of Don Pollo on Wisconsin. Great coleslaw and fries!

                  3. a
                    anit Jun 5, 2009 10:26 AM

                    Hi demigodh,

                    Did you try the Pio Pio in Manhattan or in Jackson Heights in Queens? I grew up near the on in Queens and I've always heard it to be much better than the Manhattan one (never tried that one). Personally I like PP better than EPR as I think it's a much nicer setting, the full menu is nice and the green sauce is different (creamier).

                    Also I am positive the Pio Pio in VA is not affiliated with the ones in NY...so I am not sure people can really make a fair comparison without trying the ones up there in NY.

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