The Burrito Blog

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Welcome To El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco is unlike any other burrito establishment I have ever visited.

They only serve chicken. Crazy chicken.

Translated as, "The crazy chicken," it...[I struggle to come up with some mad cow joke here but can't. Email me if you've got a good one.]

Self proclaimed as the

leading quick-service restaurant chain specializing in marinated, flame-broiled chicken
they've got 320 locations, some of which are franchised, in an unknown number of US states. After playing around with Google Maps and El Pollo Loco's own restaurant locator, they have restaurants open in California, Arizona, and Nevada, but possibly others, too.

The history of El Pollo Loco was equally laborious to research. They opened in 1975 in Mexico. At one point, they were part of the publicly owned organization that runs Denny's. They were sold in the end of 1999 to American Securities Capital Partners, a private investment partnership. In November of 2005, they were sold again to Trimaran Capital Partners.

Being that my business is burritos, not finance, I can't tell if El Pollo Loco is the AOL of Mexican food chains or the tortilla equivalent of Google shares.

This entry is filed in El Pollo Loco.

Monday, January 23, 2006 by Jonah.


shame on you. el pollo loco at oxnard was so dirty that i decide not to stay. I went to wash my hands and the restroom look like an abandoned dump. The walls full of wraffity, durty toilets, burned ceiling, sticky floors. the salsa bar was empty and salsa spilled all over. what a dump. it is ashamed that place used to be so different couple of years ago. maybe nobody had contacted you, and let you know what's going on there. just stop by un-expected and check it out. for now i won't be back please do not send any coupons. the service socks.

Posted by: DON at April 26, 2006 12:50 AM

You should check out the chain Taco Cabana. Also, Texas has about 1 million burrito/taco places you should check out! I lived in Austin and San Antonio, TX. I believe that San Antonio may have some of the best burritos and Mexican food in the country.

Posted by: Zeta at May 18, 2006 11:26 PM

The original chain of "El Pollo Loco" was split in two. One only operates in Mexico, and the other operates elsewhere in the world. Both have the same name and logo, but are entirely different organizations.

Contrary to what happens in the US, in Mexico, El Pollo Loco food is not only edible, but is also very good (at least the restaurants in Monterrey, Mexico). In fact, in Mexico the chain does not deal with burritos or any of the sort. They stay with chicken and tortillas, cause their product is good enough to be profitable like that. (I feel poorly for the millions of chickens taken from the nuthouse into the grill for this profitable endeavour, though)...

It would be interesting to research the history of the Mexican part of the organization and compare it with the American counterpart. Don't you think?

Posted by: Hari Seldon at August 14, 2006 06:05 PM

I have to add that the probable reason for the Mexican chain having good quality while the American chain does not is because a regular chicken (8 pieces with tortillas, fritos and salsa) costs around 9 dollars, which is expensive if you compare it to the 4 dollars that a regular platter costs at the US. This despite Mexico being way cheaper than the US, so eating in El Pollo Loco in Mexico is a little bit more expensive than eating at El Pollo Loco in the US, hence the quality difference. (That and the specialization in the product. When you only have to make chicken, you can focus on quality of only one product).

Posted by: Hari Selond at August 14, 2006 06:08 PM

I have only one thing to say - do Not buy any menu item Other than the roast chicken!! The frijoles on the side are OK and the no-heat salsas do not offend.
Here in L.A., home of otherwise great non-chain Mexican food, it has been noted that decent roast chicken is very hard to find. Most taquerias serve stewed or boiled chicken which sucks in tacos or burritos. El Pollo's roast chicken is fine with me!

Posted by: DiveFan at September 25, 2006 03:41 AM

i work at a franchise Pollo Loco in L.A. and we give 100 percent service to out customers, or restaurant is always clean, as well as the bathrooms. The chicken is always "grilled to perfection" and every think we cook there is to its highest standards. we hardly get complaints. the only time we do is 4 bitchy customers who most likely just want free food. but i have to say its an honor to work at my favorite restaurant. i have yet to tire of there food. i eat it all day every day. and its all good 4 u. (minus the desserts lol) my manager used to work at a Pollo Loco in Mexico. Wasabi to be exact (the city where the first one opend)

Posted by: Chris at January 5, 2007 02:31 AM

El Pollo Loco in Sherman Oaks, California has the worst ever customer serive. The manager does not care if you get your food ICE cold.

Posted by: della at February 1, 2007 11:26 PM

OK.. this is comming from a displaced native Californian who LOVES El Pollo Loco..

Taco Cabana f-ing sucks.. I moved to houston about a year ago and nearly died when I saw that there weren't El Pollo Locos on every corner like back home. I've been seraching for good tasting Mexican fast food since I got here and it aint happening. Its all messed up. The Taco Cabana nearest to my house is a total dump. The service was HORRIBLE.. there wasn't a hispanic cook to be found, and they didn't know how to wrap a damn burrito. I literally threw up after eating there which is good because I probably would've caught worms.

Posted by: Barbee at March 21, 2008 09:41 PM

I ate at the El Pollo Loco on Fredericksburg Road (Balcones Heights) or San Antonio, Texas today. I couldn't believe how filthy the salsa bar was, the tables were smeared with food. To make matters worse, the entire staff was sneezing without turning their head from the food or customers.

In fact, I saw this young male employee put this filthy bucket of water on top of the salsa bar using a dirty rag to clean it. Sneezing every few minutes into the salsa. I couldn't believe it when I saw him leave the dirty bucket there as he went and then wiped down the tables.

The restaurant smelled of insecticide. I didn't see anyone sit there and eat except a few employees. A few people did takeouts while staring in disbelief at the restaurants dirtiness.

The other Pollo Loco's were never this filthy. I won't return to this one.

Posted by: Mwert at July 3, 2008 10:47 PM

The El Pollo Loco in Westwood, California has horrible customer service... they do not care about the customer at all. Once they ran out of water cups and wouldn't give a small soda cup for the water fountain, they said you had to buy a cup, then they give out coupons and don't accept them when you turn then back in. My brother in law did a survey on line for them and got a $5.00 off coupon, he cut it out where the dotted lines are, and the manager said he wasn't going to accept it, that they needed the entire page...however, there was nothing else on the entire page and the cut out coupon had his name and the address of the store to use it at. They all need to learn what customer service is

Posted by: Eileen at January 10, 2009 07:50 PM

The pollo loco's in mission viejo suck.
The fucking disgusting mexican workers put a bloody-booger covered napkin in my bag. On the other hand the one in irvine is WAY better.

Posted by: FuckingMexicans at September 11, 2009 06:58 PM

no vayan al POLLO LOCO de FREDERICKSBURG, ROAD en SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS...esta demasiado sucio y el personal tambien luce mugroso

Posted by: mary at June 23, 2010 12:09 PM