Food

Cheap Eats 2008: El Pollo Rico (Arlington)

Why go: Who cares if the plates are Styrofoam, the utensils are plastic, and the only attempt at jazzing up the atmosphere at this Ballston polleria is a staticky radio tuned to easy listening? You’re here for the Peruvian-style chicken, one bite of which will grab your attention.

What to get: Spice-crusted, spit-roasted chicken—so moist and tender that you barely need a knife—hacked into quarters or halves or served whole and accompanied by a mild mayo sauce and a piquant salsa of crushed jalapeños. Steak fries and coleslaw, the only other offerings on the menu, are just so-so.

Best for: A satisfying meal at lightning speed—the cashier will have your plate assembled in less than 30 seconds; taking the chicken to go and making your own sides.

Insider tip: El Pollo Rico’s Wheaton twin, destroyed by fire in February, is expected to reopen in the fall.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

See all 2008 Cheap Eats restaurants 

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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.