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Apr 30, 2010 12:19 AM

Pollo Campero at the sacred source ... the “Campero Conspiracy”

Pollo Comparoor, "Country Chicken"., is a Guatemalan fried chicken chain with a world-wide presence. They are scattered around the US and reach as far as India and China.

I have tried it in the US ... once delivered from LA and once flown in from Guatemala. However, that's like eating KFC that did a reverse commute from SF to Gatemala. Hard to judge. The long distance chicken was fine, but nothing amazing.

So in the middle of a tropical deluge that made Noah's flood look like mere spit, I finally had my plate in Guatemala of the original receipe, so to speak. In addition to the "tradicional" they also have extra crispy and grilled. I wanted the purest experience.

I do mean plate. The joint looks like any typical fast food place. However, think of KFC and sitting down and having a server take your order at the table and bringing it on real plates with real dinnerware.

A slight digresstion from my meal which should help sum up my experience.

In Guatemala, Pollo Comparo serves breakfast. Here's a photo of the breakfast

Now take a look at what that same breakfast looks like in a different Guatemalan restaurant

Get the picture? Literally.

Pollo Comparo is just like any other fast food joint world-wide. Fine, but nothing spectacular. On my own, I wouldn't go back ... too much other interesting local food.

However, if the family wanted to go again, that would be fine. Maybe next time I'll get an American donut with coffee ... they looked like any run of the mill American donut shop donuts ... and seemed to be popular due to the number of people ordering them.

The chicken has a nice enough thin coating that is not as soft or spicy as original KFC. The skin is fairly crisp but not crunchy. It isn't greasy either. The spicing was subtle. I was thinking at first that like everything else in Guatemala, there was little spice. However, there was something going on there spice-wise.

The meat is injected with a marinade, so maybe that was the flavor I was picking up. Then again there is a dark, red tone to the coating, so maybe there is some sort of spice there.

The breast itself was very good, tender and moist. The leg was fine. There's a lot of free-range chicken in my neck of Guatemala and those birds get lots of exercise and develop muscle. As a result they can be chewy and I was wondering if PC would be like this. Nope. It was actually better quality chicken than any of the US fast food joints ... not much better ... but a notch above.

There's a squeeze bottle of some green hot sauce on the table, the consistancy slightly thinner than catsup. It was fine. It added a little (lot of) heat but little else.

Fries are medium cut and ok. Not as good as McDonald's but better than any other US fast food chain that I can think of.

It comes with a dinner roll like any you can buy at Safeway. The only bad part was the blob of one of the worst cole slaws I've ever had in my life. Overdressed with some sort of gloppy mayo. Totally inedible.

What I find hilarious is reading the posts about the US locations. PC Gautemala doesn't have rice or tortillas on the menu and beans are only available for breakfast. No salsa bar either. Guatemalans aren't so much into that.

From what I've been reading, there is usually some independant tortilla lady who sets up shop outside PC and people buy them outside and bring them in to eat. Due to the deluge today, NO ONE could stay outside long. This is not an exaggeration. Two bridges were washed away in the last few days near my hone. I hope no tortilla ladies outside PC were similarily washed away.

Oh ... PC Guatemala delivers ... by motorcycle.

I keep saying how 1950's my home is in Guatemala. That applies to fast food. Growing up, a trip to McDonald's was an occasional thing and not like today ... a weekly, and for some, a daily stop. I've been here a few weeks and this is the first time we ate fast food.

There was an interesting comment about the chicken in the US that sort of jives with all that. It said "tastes like 1950's style pressure cooked chicken seasoned with accent"


There isn't even a McDonald's in town. Domino's yes. but that is it. Oh yeah, PC sells pizza. It looks wretched as does most of the pizza in this town. Oh for a SF pizza. ir you want to see something really scary, in the link below click on the pasta link and look at the chicken lasagna

Stick with the fried chicken ... though the salads do look decent. Maybe I'll see how they stack up against US fast food salads if we ever go again. While the fried chicken usually gets Chowhound reports similar to mine ... fine but unremarkable ... the salads seem to get unanimous Chowhound approval such as this report by Sam Fujisaka

As to the conspiracy ... you can read about it in the comments here.

It seems like PC aims to be the Starbucks of chicken ... one on every corner world-wide. ... a pollo in every por. The conspiracy theory is first you hook Central Americans on PC. You then, um, export Central Americcans to other countries to work. They create a demand worldwide to open a PC in the countries where they live .

I don't know about that ... Guatemalans in China?

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  1. Maybe the other two salads are better than the ensalada de casa.LIke the chicken it was ok. I will give it some points over US chicken salads.

    1. The chicken was real, not that 'formed' junk sold in the US where chicken salads gross me out.

    hmmm .... maybe that was the only good thing other than having a drive-thru on another day of rain that makes monsoons look like pleasant light showers.

    The salad pretty much looks like the photo ... lots of iceburg, tomatoes, shredded cheese, shredded carrots, a few rings of white onions and a packet of Newman's honey mustard salad dressing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      Melanie Wong just turned me on to your post, in response to mine tonight:

      your report confirmed my suspicions.... of course, i'm probably going to try it once, it's two blocks from my house.

    2. They're apparently giving the Tampa Bay area a try:

      1. I tried the PC chicken wings in Santa Ana, El Salvador. They were pretty addictive. Nice crunch, very flavorful chicken. I'v e heard PC is in L.A. California but doesn't compare to what you get in Central America. A friend from the area (Central America) thinks it has to do with how long the oil for frying is kept (we keep it for a shorter time). It would be nice if PC came to more areas in the US. I don't recall, is Mr Donut in Guatemala? I'd love for Mr. Donut to come here too. Empandas and donuts, yum, yum.

        1 Reply
        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

          PC sells donuts in Guatemala, but not very good ones. Think supermarket. No Mr. Donut that I've seen, but a lot of American Donut kiosks. They are ... odd ... some of them square. Again not better than supermarket donuts.

          The difference in taste may also have to do with the local chicken source. There's one coming to SF and I'll have to give it a try when I get home to see how the US Comperos compare-os.