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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Latin American
Counter service

Sun–Thu 10:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 10:00am–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx

Adams Morgan
1742 Columbia Rd.
Washington, DC
(202) 464-4444

Takoma Park, MD
6838 New Hampshire Ave.
Takoma Park, MD
(301) 891-6800
Pollo Granjero
Rhymes and trademarks be damned—this is damn good fried chicken

The name is—or seems, anyway—a rather humorous rip-off of Pollo Campero, the legendary fried-chicken chain that is like a religion in much of Central America, especially Guatemala (where it started) and El Salvador. So central is Pollo Campero to the Salvadoran identity that it’s a tradition among many Salvadorans to carry bags of Campero fried chicken onto US-bound flights so that their extended families up north can have a taste. Now that’s brand loyalty.

Luckily for Pollo Granjero, trademark lawyers aren’t generally on the payroll of Latin American chicken shops.

Now, we love Pollo Campero too, and Campero also has a DC-area branch—a fact that calls the bring-it-on-the-plane practice into question. But what’s amazing is that, here in DC anyway, Granjero beats Campero at its own game.

It bears mention that the atmosphere at Pollo Granjero is not what Campero’s is. While Campero feels like a brightly lit, hygienic fast-food joint in the KFC vein, Granjero feels like a grungy fast-food joint without the hygienic neurosis that comes from being part of a nationally scrutinized franchise. Instead, Granjero’s rewards come on the plate, beginning with the impossibly moist, beautifully crisped bird, which come with complex and addictive green and white dipping sauces—frequently the unsung heroes of the Latin American chicken restaurant. Happily, here, they don’t have to do all the work.

Where sides are throwaways at so many roast-chicken joints, Pollo Granjero’s beans are particularly good, wonderfully seasoned and complex. There’s also well-executed fried yuca—crispy and delicious—plus lomo saltado (a bit overcooked) and pupusas (for that Salvadoran touch).

Service is merely perfunctory; speaking Spanish will get you further than speaking English. Even if you can communicate well, waits are strangely unpredictable; one day, your fried chicken will come out in less than a minute, yet on another, it will take 10 or 15. We’ll give this kitchen the benefit of the doubt and take it as a sign of quality rather than of poor inventory management and planning. After all, nobody wants chain fried chicken. Pollo Granjero seems happy to leave that task to Pollo Campero.

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