El Pollo Rico in Arlington, VA

Peruvian chicken places are everywhere in Northern Virginia. Everything about this place gave no indication that it was different from the others. It had a typical Peruvian-chicken-place name, it was one of many in the same neighborhood and once inside, it looked and smelled like the others.

But El Pollo Rico isn’t your typical Peruvian chicken place – 550+ reviewers on Yelp gave it 4.5 stars, and while I haven’t seen the episode, I believe Anthony Bourdain and his No Reservation crew filmed here. I don’t remember watching the episode but now I will have to pull it up on Netflix.

You don’t realize it from the outside but this place is huge! We were met with a friendly gentleman at the counter. He was speaking Spanish to the other people, and I was nudging my husband, who speaks fluent Spanish to speak Spanish to him. This guy, it turns out, was the owner and an American, because as soon as he saw my husband, he started speaking English to him. My husband whispers to me, “I can’t speak Spanish to him if he spoke English to me first.” Apparently this is some kind of an unwritten linguist etiquette or something.

To say the least, this place is very low key. I think I was even sitting on a mismatched lawn chair if I remember correctly. But the food…oh the food! The chicken has a nice grilled flavor on the outside and nice and tender on the inside. The fries were ok, but I think fried yucca would have been better. The rice had a hint of lime and cilantro, and probably cooked in chicken stock. Perhaps the most exciting thing, according to my 8-year-old was getting her own can of Inca Kola, which she describes as, “fruity and watermelony.”

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