Cheap Eats 2011: El Pollo Rico Wheaton

Long considered the king of the area’s Peruvian-chicken houses, these rotisseries still sit at the top–when the kitchens are on top of their game, which is often. The owners won’t say what’s in the slightly spicy rub packed under the skin, but they’ve let leak that the birds are marinated 24 hours before going on the spit. The result is a flavor that’s spicy, salty, and peppery. New additions to the Wheaton menu are tamales and chicken empanadas, but they’re both forgettable.

A tip to up your chances of a getting a great chicken: Prime time might mean waiting in line, but the birds won’t sit in a warmer.

Also good: Chicken comes with a choice of two sides (choose rice and beans over fries or coleslaw); anise-seed-studded alfajores cookies with dulce de leche.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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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.