Pollo Regio

Lee had friends over last night, so I didn’t get any sleep. The house today looks like a bomb went off and I couldn’t take it so I had to get out of the house as soon as I woke up.

Like an alcoholic that shouldn’t drink alone, I shouldn’t eat out by myself. A waste of money, for one thing – I’ll eat too much, for another. I would have been happy to make up a nice, healthy breakfast if our kitchen hadn’t been so depressing – so I climbed in my car and went out in search of something to eat (Candy is volunteering at an animal shelter – we are driving to Fort Worth later in the day).

My part of the city is nothing if not diverse. I did not want to go to some traditional American fast-food place, or even a traditional American slow-food place. I wanted to get some work done at White Rock Coffee. I’m working on a short story based around technology that enables text to be encoded on strings of viral DNA and books that are then spread (read) via infection. Again, my home is too depressing right now to hang around and write in.

I headed down Plano road looking for sustanance. Vietnamese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Korean, Brasilian, Salvadoran, Soul Food, MiddleEastern, Cajun, Thai, and every other part of the world presented themselves within a few blocks of my route.

Rice and Tacos

Rice and Tacos

I saw a neon sign that said – Rice and Tacos  – Mexican and Chinese food, and made a quick left – that looked like an attractive combination. It turned out to be a convenience store with a food counter and I’ll probably try that sometime soon, but I wanted to sit down in peace today. Diagonally across the intersection I spotted a relatively new restaurant that I have been watching get remodelled – El Pollo Regio.

There was a privately owned pollo asado place there before (before that, it was a Taco Bell) that was really good. Candy and I ate met there for lunch and the only complaint I had is that they served roasted Jalepeno peppers with their lunch specials and they varied in capsaicin content a little too much for comfort. I ate mine with no problems and Candy gave me hers – so I gobbled it down without the usual precautions (held lightly between two fingers, lips held back and way from the flesh of the pepper, a test nibble). It was so hot that I could barely see the rest of the day.

Not too long later the place closed down. We were disappointed at first, but then saw it was being converted into a Pollo Regio – which isn’t really any different than what it was before.

Pollo Regio

Pollo Regio

The Pollo Regio at Plano Road and Forest in Garland. The large rectangular structure on the roof to the right of the sign is the elaborate exhaust mechanism necessary for the giant chicken roaster inside to meet modern environmental regulations. Shame. There is nothing cooler on a hot night than seeing the rotating spits of a traditional pollo asado full of whole chickens moving around and dripping fat in front of an open fire. It would belch a wonderful fragrant smoke full of chicken and wood that would fill the neighborhood and attract hungry customers like flies. I love and miss that.

Now, when I’m out looking for something to eat I try really hard to stay away from chains. I would much rather support indivduals than sub-divisions of a megasized corporation – plus the food is going to be better when it is based on an old family recipe. Pollo Regio is technically a chain, but a small one. They started out a few years ago as a food truck in Austin (the source of a lot of culinary innovation) and spread to a chain of franchised chicken spots – especially penetrating the Dallas Fort-Worth Market.

I can live with that.

The food was good, The chicken (served wrapped in butcher paper along with a whole roasted onion) properly spicy and smoky, the sides (rice and charro beans) excellent, the selection of salsas (the most important aspect of a pollo asado meal) wide, spicy, and fresh. Nobody spoke english, which is another nice touch.

Why pay for a vacation flight to the tropics when you can enjoy brutal heat, suffocating humidity, spicy food, mysterious sauces, and difficult communications only a few blocks down Plano Road?