Señor Pollo: Heir to El ChupacabraJune 9, 2014
Chicken has a bad reputation. It’s often known as the beigest of proteins; easy to cook, but also always accused of being dry, or bland. Señor Pollo, by the guys behind El Chupacabra, gives us the antidote to regular Pinoy-style roasts, fast food fried chicken, or tired and retired chicken breasts. Introducing Latin-style flavors, the dishes at Señor Pollo are definitely robust, and in-your-face, without being too complicated for a diner that is unfamiliar with the stuff.
It’s hard to tell what the star here is, because almost everything is stellar.
It’s hard to tell what the star here is, because almost everything is stellar. From the chicken down to the sides, this is going to be everyone’s new favorite hangout. Roast chicken is turned on its head, with Señor Pollo marinating theirs in Latin spices. It’s hard to describe how the meat tastes—it is moist no matter what cut you get, seasoned well, with juices running through—but trust me, it’s the type of thing that gets you hooked. Even better is when the chicken is paired with a bright, piquant chimichurri, which adds a brightness that only enhances the fowl’s crisp, salty skin.
There’s a truckload of side dishes to choose from, and whatever you order will probably be just as good as the mains. The spicy rice reminds me of Nando’s, a global peri-peri chain which I used to eat in all the time during my years at university. The rice is nostalgic for me because of this, but I’m sure that its comforting depth will soon be nostalgic for others. I’ve always been a fan of baked beans, and these have the mushy texture that contrasts well with chicken skin, mimicking the refried beans that are often found encased in soggy burritos.
Maybe the best of all, however, is a Latin coleslaw, which is nothing like the ones we’re used to, usually drowning in sickly, fatty mayonnaise. I’ve had two friends proclaim that this stuff is life-changing, and seen one of them down almost a plateful of it before I could get a proper fork in. What is great about this is that it is still sweet like a coleslaw should be, but without being covered in mayo. Instead, the crunch and bite of the vegetables are still present, and the coleslaw is not cloying whatsoever. Fried plantains weren’t the best thing on the menu, but were still cooked and seasoned well.
This chicken is like KFC on crack, with even crispier skin.
If you come here looking for the roast poultry, which is meant to be what Señor Pollo is known for, you’ll be surprised that they dish up a mean fried chicken, too. Because it is still bathed in Latin spices, this chicken is like KFC on crack, with even crispier skin. Damn it, this stuff was good, and paired with the coleslaw, it makes it so easy for someone to down a whole plateful without even noticing. The gravy is decent, but there’s garlic sauce to go with the chimichurri, and this combination works surprisingly well with the deep-fried stuff.
The atmosphere is definitely what makes people flock to El Chupacabra.
Señor Pollo also serves up cocktails, turning this chicken joint into a busy watering hole at night. A Latin punch was a little too sweet, but the mojito was simple, and a pleasing way to end your meal, and start the night. The atmosphere is definitely what makes people flock to El Chupacabra—it has a bit of that grubby charm that you get with dive bars, but wouldn’t feel out of place among the gastropubs popping up everywhere in Fort and Makati. The decor is awesome too, with colorful murals matching the exposed wood, and the little details tie everything together, down to the silver plates the food is served in, to the blackboard menu at the service counter.
I’ve been a steady patron of El Chupacabra for a long time—the food always seemed to appease whatever craving I had, the ambiance was relaxed and unpretentious, and a good meal always turned into an even better night out. Señor Pollo does the same for me, but at the same time, it is an entirely different place.
I never used to be a believer of chicken, but Señor Pollo may have converted me. Service may still be a little haphazard, but once things are in full swing, find me at the bar with a cold beer, both fried and roasted chicken, and an extra tub of chimichurri.