Remember Pollo Loco? I remember when it arrived in my hometown of Clarksville, Ind., back in the early to mid-1990s and no one seemed to know how to pronounce it correctly. Nor did they seem to fully understand that “pollo” was Spanish for chicken.
So, it was “polo loco” to many, which I guess roughly translates to “crazy golf shirt.” I guess it’s no wonder that Pollo Loco location didn’t last long.
Anyway, I thought about that place when my friend Kirk mentioned Yummy Pollo, a chicken place at 4222 Bishop Lane. Yummy Pollo really is what the name claims it to be – yummy chicken. But instead of being straight rotisserie chicken, it’s a Peruvian-style place with a fast casual approach.
The chicken is charcoal-fired and slowly char-broiled whole, then sold in quarters, halves or whole chickens. The sides are more Kentucky-style southern dishes than Peruvian, though, which makes for an interesting combo.
Anyway, Kirk and I met for lunch at Yummy Pollo recently, and really had no idea what to expect. I went for a half chicken (all white meat) and two sides, while Kirk ordered a half chicken mixed and a pair of sides.
For my sides, I ordered white rice and green beans, and Kirk and I both were taken aback when the person fixing up my plate for me gave me not just a side of rice, but a PILE of rice.
“He just kept going,” Kirk recalled later. “I was afraid he thought you said you wanted a double order of rice.”
He also piled on the green beans, so I was left wondering what the pile of mashed potatoes might have looked like had I ordered that (or mixed vegetables or chick peas or any of the other sides). And my half chicken was two breasts and two wings. So, I guess I got the entire front half of the chicken, sans the head. The pile of food on my plate was embarrassing. And it looked and smelled delicious.
We dug in, and it was just as tasty as it looked/smelled. With each order of chicken comes two dipping sauces – one a mild, white sauce that tastes almost like honey mustard and mayo mixed, while the other is a dark green cilantro jalapeno sauce that has a slight kick and a wonderful pepper flavor.
But the chicken is so moist, tender and delicious on its own that it really doesn’t need any help. Honestly, I found myself wondering how I could get so much food for just nine bucks. The green beans were solid, but the white rice was really chicken fried rice in disguise, with big chunks of white meat chicken and vegetables. If this was a side order, I know a lot of people who could make a decent meal out of it.
Kirk, meanwhile, got pasta salad and coleslaw. I tasted the pasta salad, which was drenched in an aioli I could not quite identify, and it was quite tasty. I didn’t taste the slaw, but when asked, Kirk said, “It’s nice and goopy, just like I like it.”
One word of advice: Yummy Pollo has only disposable plastic utensils available, which aren’t ideal for pulling or cutting chicken from the bone, so plan on using your fingers and getting a little sticky. Just grab extra napkins before you sit down to eat.
To the surprise of no one involved, neither of us could finish our massive lunches. Kirk was left with half his chicken (and Kirk is a guy who can eat half his weight most days), while I was left with half my chicken and most of my green beans. So, basically I ended up with two delicious lunches for my nine bucks. That’s a win and a win, in my book.
Oh, and if you go, be prepared for friendly service. These guys not only pile on the tasty food for good prices, they make it clear they want you to walk away happy. New local eatery with great food and great service? Nothing loco about that.