El Pollo Rico, Wheaton

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

Some of the area's worst traffic jams occur at these chicken joints come dinner time. The smoky perfume drifting up from the grill draws passersby, and lines spill out the door as the counter staff struggles to fill orders and keep dozens of chickens swirling on the spit.

None of the Peruvian rotisserie places that have cropped up in the area turns out a bird with as much flavor. Tender, juicy, succulent–this is a chicken to rhapsodize over. Ask for extra sauce–both the mayo-yellow mustard and spicy cilantro-lime, which come in tiny plastic containers, are addictive. Don't miss the crisp (albeit frozen) fries. The mayo-logged slaw has never been a strong suit.

In Maryland try the moist rum cake, soaked with enough liquor to make you tipsy; alfajores, those Latin sandwich cookies with a slather of dulce de leche, are the sweet of choice in Virginia.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.