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Dec 17, 2010 10:09 AM

Pollo Campero

A Pollo Campero just opened on Robert Street in St. Paul. It's a chain, so some MSP Chowhounders might be turned off, but it's an interesting place. As the name suggests, they do chicken - chicken burrito, chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, and 1/4 and 1/2 roasted chickens. Went with GF for lunch. I ordered the 1/4 roasted chicken (dark meat) with Campero rice and Campero beans. The rice was a seasoned rice, very good. The beans were excellent - pinto beans with bacon, chorizo, and couple other additions. Excellent. The chicken was very good - great spicing to it, flavorful, very tender. $6. Can't beat it.

GF ordered the grilled chicken sandwich...The place opened 4 days ago, and apparently their sandwich making operation isn't perfected. It took a while. But the staff was very apologetic, to the point where the manager came out, apologized profusely, comped the sandwich, brought out a 1/4 grilled chicken with sides for my girlfriend, and then had the sandwich ready for us when we left. We didn't ask for anything, only asked where the sandwich was after about a 5 minute wait - their staff took it from there, alerting the manager there was a holdup. We were perfectly content with just getting something else so she could eat, so comping the sandwich, getting a 1/4 grilled chicken, AND getting the sandwich was way above the call.

I'll be back. The staff was great, the food was tasty, and at that price point, it's a great deal. Beans, rice, chicken, et al. all appeared to be made in store (and that's what the manager said). While perhaps it's international chain status might turn some folks off, I think it's a nice addition to the Robert St. area.

For what it's worth, after eating there today, I thought it tasted familiar. So I looked at their website, and saw they had multiple outlets in Costa Rica, and realized that I had eaten Pollo Campero there, where it's very popular. I thought it was an interesting spin on things where I had had a chain's food years ago outside the US first, and then to have it in the US.

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    Sorry for the freaking out, but this place is all over Central America, and it occupies a somewhat warm and fuzzy spot in me. Yes, it is fast food, yes it is stuff you can get elsewhere, but something about the place I always loved when I lived in Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guate all have them!)

    I will be stopping there ASAP.

    1 Reply
    1. re: linfr21


      That was my christmas present. Love their chicken and their sides are even better. Be sure to try the plantains.

    2. I tried it for lunch today. I had a taste of both the fried and roasted chicken. I loved the fried chicken. The roasted chicken had too much salt and was dry. Surprisingly the fried chicken seemed to have a whole lot less salt.

      Yes, the Comparo beans are the highlight. The plantains are great also. The service was very friendly and accomodating. There were a number of traffic jams in the small parking lot though. Everyone was trying it out. I was there at 11:15.

      1. Went yesterday to pick up lunch. They marinate the chicken in a citrus/herb blend. Great chicken- especially for fast food. I tried grilled and fried (no sides for me)- just couldn't decide. Co-workers went back again today!

        1. Stopped into this place yesterday afternoon. I've been wanting to go ever since learning that the kitchen staff at Saffron indulges in Pollo Campero's fried chicken as a guilty pleasure.

          It's fast food, but it's very good fast food. I ordered the fried chicken, and all pieces were juicy without being greasy. I had the "meal," which comes with one side. I passed on the Campero beans and opted for the fried plaintains. The texture of those was a little mushy, but they had nice caramelization and flavor. It was the chicken, though, that was totally killer. I almost orderd some just to bring home. My wife got a bowl of the tortilla chipotle soup, which she raved about. Next time, I'll have to try the grilled chicken.

          The very funny thing is that there is a KFC next door. And I mean right next door. Pollo Campero had about 8 cars in the lot. KFC had 1.

          Next time I'm in the South Robert Street area, I'll make sure to go here. The next nearest one is in the Chicago area.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            I, too, wonder why anyone would stop at KFC when this place is right next door. But during the work week, the ratio of cars is almost reversed -- many fewer at PC.

            We've eaten there a few times. I've ordered the fried chicken and and enjoyed it, but I enjoy the grilled chicken just as much and that saves a few calories for a side. :-) Mrs. Sisp has had the tortilla soup a couple of times and finds it quite tasty.

            The Robert St. location is convenient for me, but I wouldn't mind seeing them open another store on the other side of the river.

            1. re: steve_in_stpaul

              agreed....Until then, we'll have to settle for the sometimes on sometimes off pollo asado at the gas station at 48th and Nicollet... Go during lunch and its usually fresh off the grill...

          2. Empanadas were great. Too bad it is fried food...

            2 Replies
            1. re: becjust

              I am a total fan because of the plantains - served with a side of thick sour cream. The rice and beans are good, but the plátanos are my side of choice.
              The fried chicken is my choice - the more fat the better for me - but the pollo asada is moist, well-seasoned and served with fresh lime.

              1. re: teamkitty

                I spent some time in Guatemala three decades ago and greatly enjoyed Pollo Compero then. So when PC appeared on this site, I was off like a flash. And it's still great. I love the ripe plantains, I love the beans, I love the rice and the chicken is sooo much better than KFC.

                Since then, my wife and all her friends only go there for chicken. We live in Minneapolis and driving there this Winter has been tough, but good food can be inspirational.

                I hope they thrive and open many more stores here.