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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Counter service

Daily 10:00am–10:00pm

Features Outdoor dining
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC


Southeast Austin
1928 E. Riverside Dr.
Austin, TX
(512) 326-1888

East Austin
1945 Oltorf St.
Austin, TX
(512) 444-7426

Far North Austin
9717 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 997-7300

El Pollo Rico
The best roast chicken in the city, and perhaps the best $15 dinner for two

The itty-bitty kitchen of this ubiquitous, cramped drive-thru turns out some of the best roast chicken in the city. There’s also other, perfectly serviceable fare (it varies by location somewhat), like parrillada with smoky sausage and dry, husky carne asada; tacos al pastor; tortas; and so on. These are fine, but there are better renditions elsewhere. What you want is the chicken, which comes with Mexican rice, a grilled sweet onion, warm corn tortillas, two excellent salsas, and charro beans. Calling these “charro beans” is like calling Stevie Ray Vaughan a guy with a guitar. On a good day, these smoky, creamy pintos stewed with pork, onions, and jalapeños outclass any other. Order an extra pint and stick a straw in it for the drive home (don’t stick around unless you like depressing lighting or sketchy parking lots).

The chicken is rubbed with red chiles and spices, giving the meat a not-overpowering kick. Then, it’s roasted just as it should be. Wrapped in a warm, tender tortilla with some tangy-sweet roast onion, it’s brilliant. The capsicum-crazed will love the creamy green salsa, which is nuclear hot; the roja is milder and vegetal.

They may call it “rico,” but even the pobre can easily afford this food. A whole chicken with all the fixin’s provides a very generous meal for two for about thirteen bucks.

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