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Pollo Campero - Anyone Heard of It? [San Francisco]

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

in particular, RWOrange? It's a Guatamalan chain that people supposedly flock to ... there and in L.A. there's a mention of it on the L.A. Board: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

I just walked by the space on Mission Street, where there used to be a Payless Shoe Store, saw a sign on the window - picture of what the place supposedly will look like inside (booths as opposed to fast-food tables).

"... like the KFC of Guatamala" is not a promising thought.... tho a couple of people at least on the L.A. board like it.

read the menu. not at all hopeful.
http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/po...

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  1. Here's rworange's post on Pollo Campero on the Chains board.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/704883

    3 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      thanks. should have known not to do the search on the SF Board.
      as i suspected, not much to look forward to.

      1. re: mariacarmen

        She has mentioned Pollo Campero on this board too, the only reason the name is familiar to me. Here's one of the old posts,
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/457995
        Remember that the default setting for the board search is the last 12 months. If you want to do a thorough search going back further in time, you need to use the Advanced search settings.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          This is good to know. I was getting worried about my stepkids missing Guatemalan food. At least they will have one familiar place to go.

          Since that post on th chans, I've upgraded my opinion a bit. If you eat enough Pollo Comparo (and I have), you get the mystique and why it is popular. It is fresh chicken and not greasy.

          I still hate the cole slaw which is inedible to me. There are not as many sides in GT. Skip the mashed potatoes and desserts. The roast chicken is pretty good but there are a lot of supermarket chickens I'd proably buy before PC.

          It will be interesting to see if the US version is the same as GT.

          They own a pizza chain in GT, Telepizza. Some of the restaurants sell chicken and pizza. It isn't bad in a chain pizza way ... which reminds me I forgot to post about the pizza on the chains board.

    2. If you like KFC you are going to love Pollo Compero

      1. The PC opened in LA quite awhile ago (almost 10 years ago) to reports of madness and wrap-around-the-block lines. Supposedly in the first month or so the first franchise sold $1m worth of chicken. The curiosity factor is high because you have wonder what creates that kind of demand. Never got a chance to go in LA, too much other stuff to do while down there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ML8000

          Most, though not all of the Pollo Campero locations in Los Angeles are in the 'hood, so the large majority of their business comes from the sizable Guatemalan and Central American community.

        2. Pollo Campero opened today, to huge crowds (lines outside the door in both directions, at 6:15 p.m.), primarily made up of Guatemalans (I'm assuming - certainly 99.9% Latinos, that i could see). I want to try it, but i'm thinking it will be a while before the the crowds die down....
          http://missionlocal.org/2012/12/pollo...

          1. I hear that the US chains are different than the ones in Central America. One friend who lives in El Salvador said it is because in the US the oil for frying is cycled out everyday whereas in Central America not as frequently - it's not rancid though. I liked PC when I tried in El Salvador, it had a spicy kick and seemed less battered than KFC. I am not sure I'd go as far as to say if you like KFC you'll like PC. Also, Pizza Hut is much different there too, I wish the Pizza Huts here were like the ones in Central America. But that is another post on another board. Thanks for posting though, I will have to check it out.

            1. Pollo Campero has been open about 10 days & still very popular. Sat 12/22/12 before 11am there wasn't a line to eat in, but after 11am about a 15 min wait to get a table. There's a separate door for Take-out orders.

              Lady came out & got our name & how many, but they didn't seat me any faster being solo, just had to wait until I got to the front of the line. Sysco delivered the packaged food to the restaurant.

              Security guards handed out menus, they are also hiring at the restaurant if you need a job.

              I picked Peruvian citrus grilled 1/4 grilled (leg & thigh) dark & 2 sides $6.49 on the take-out menu. I picked black beans & white rice (counted as one side small portion with both), & Green salad. They didn't ask me if I wanted tortillas or dinner roll, they just gave me one dinner roll too. Chicken was average, not dry though good thing. Black beans & white rice - average. Green salad - just a boring green salad with some sliced tomato slices. Salad dressing was fine.

              Ask for green salsa - a bit spicy.

              Separate bathrooms in the back left. Charged the meal - price was $5.99 before tax & tip.

               
               
               
              3 Replies
              1. re: hhc

                sooo..... not worth the hype in your opinion, just something that is near and dear to people who had this place in their home countries? or could it be suffering from too many people/the food quality suffers until things calm down?

                i saw signs outside that said there were no take-out orders allowed.... did someone tell you different?

                thanks for the report!

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  Yes, it's not worth the hype, maybe wait a month to try it.

                  There is another door to the Left of the main entrance to order take-out. There's a cashier there way in the back heading towards the bathroom to order/pay/pick-up.

              2. Stopped into Pollo Campero for some yuca fries ($2.50) last night at about 7PM. For takeout, there wasn't a line, and I got my food in less than 5 minutes.

                Nice and crunchy on the outside, insides didn't fare as well. Fast food places are usually spot on with fried starch, so this surprised me. Longer post about their and other's yuca fries at:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8203...

                5 Replies
                1. re: hyperbowler

                  thanks for reporting. but don't you find that that's the case with fried yuca most of the time? it's very starchy inside. i find only places that cut the yuca up into small pieces and then fry them get a good inside texture on them.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Your average thick cut fried yuca will be pasty or starchy. But I've had excellent versions where the insides had a more structured texture--- at Pica Pica and at an airport in Puerto Rico ( if that was Sysco, no complaints here).

                    I like fried smaller cut yuca as well, and I agree that it's easier to achieve a good texture with those. But my preference is for the bigger ones-- like steak fries, they can have a mammoth crunch.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      have you tried them at Paladar on Kearny?

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        Yes. They were cut into chunks and underdone. Starchy and stiff, like eating a baked potato. Is that atypical for them? I was only there once, about a year ago.

                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          I've had them better there, but i think they can be hit or miss.

                2. stopped in on my walk home from BART today after noticing no line. it actually reminds me of KFC a bit (which is a good thing, for me). unique blend of spices, pretty crispy. things are not fried to order, so how fresh what you get is will depend on when it came out of the fryer - the wing and breast were not as crispy as the thigh.

                  sides (yucca fries, plantians) were good, not great. very good horchata.

                  it's certainly nothing worth waiting in line here, but i'd come back, given how few options there are in the mission for fried chicken outside of nice sit-down restaurants. certainly far better than popeye's a block away (but i do know peopel that love that place and hate KFC)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: vulber

                    thanks for the reminder, i forgot to report, as i picked some up a couple weeks ago. i found, too, that it tasted a lot like KFC, although its crispiness reminded me more of Pioneer Chicken's crust, if anyone remembers that. maybe not as thick. as for sides, they gave me rice instead of the slaw i asked for, which was very bland. the beans were just ok. i liked the yucca fries but they don't give you very many. they have grilled chicken as well, but i didn't get any.

                    so, not at all bad, but ditto on the not worth a wait. but more so, for me, i don't need to come back now that my curiousity has been sated. for me, just another fast food fried chicken place.

                    1. re: vulber

                      I haven't been yet, but the Salvadorian restaurant on the opposite side of Mission had good fried chicken last time I was there. Las Palmerias?

                    2. I tried this place last night, and thought it was basically fast-food quality food in a slightly nicer setting. Lots of servers, and several checked in on me during my meal. A similar-sized restaurant elsewhere on Mission Street might have two servers....this place had a hostess, plus about 5 servers.

                      I ordered 3 pieces of dark meat fried chicken. They were a bit greasy, but crispy thin coating and tender meat. Fresh from the fryer. Not bad.

                      Coleslaw had lots of mayo. Not my favorite, but I also kinda liked it. About the quality you'd expect from, say, Safeway deli.

                      Fried plantains were good. Also greasy, but ripe and sweet.

                      Tortillas came in a plastic bag. I wished i had chosen roll instead.

                      Tamarindo agua fresca was okay, but had a weird aftertaste. Not too sweet, but tasted maybe artificially sweetened somehow? Not sure though.

                      Total bill before tip was $11.50

                      As I walked out, I felt full, but as I glanced over at El Farolito across the street, I couldn't help wishing I had just had a burrito instead.

                      Probably won't return to Pollo Campero, but I guess I can see why people like it.