Cheap Eats 2007: El Pollo Rico, Wheaton

This location is currently closed.

The guys with the cleavers—whack! whack! whack!—work way too close to their fingers. But somehow the choppers at these beloved local places, where the lines on a midweek night stretch to the door, never seem to miss.

The cooking is just as true. Indians, Asians, Latinos, baby-strollers, business suits, cops—all flock to the storefronts for their fix. There are plenty of chicken shops in town, but none has mastered the process like these guys, from the 24-hour soak in a cumin-spiked paste of Peruvian peppers to the slow, careful tending over an open flame. The result is a bird that’s tangy and tender. Another attraction: the clean, bright atmosphere, more picnic area than polleria.

Skip the fries that replace the yucca in Arlington, and don’t miss the surprise in Wheaton: a flan that is light and full of caramel taste.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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 Petworth.