Through my most recent dining experience, it’s come to my attention that “Peruvian food” is synonymous with “a whole lot of chicken.”
The vessel for this realization was Mr. Pollo, a Peruvian restaurant in West Covina that does chicken in a wide variety of ways for a reasonable price.
And I have to say, a decidedly positive element to a particular culture’s tastes revolving around one central animal is that they know how to do it right.
Located in an unassuming strip mall off of Azusa Avenue, one might not expect greatness from such a bland locale. When I walked in, I was hit with the color brown: brown floors, brown tables, brown walls and even brown art on the walls.
The only thing missing was Bobby Brown, the Cleveland Browns and the local brownie troupe.
No matter, though. A certain postulate gaining more and more validity in my head lately is that the more unattractive the restaurant, the better the food.
Mr. Pollo got me believing in this philosophy even more when I sat down to eat their “Combo 1,” which included one-fourth of a rotisserie chicken and a choice of two sides.
Other combinations, all within the $5 to $7 range, featured other portions and styles of chicken. There’s even a grilled steak combo for about $6.90.
I ordered my chicken with a side of salad and pinto beans. My total came out to a little over $6. A few other side options were rice, mashed potatoes and french fries.
Now, I usually can’t stand french fries, but if you are the type who happens to love fries, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Apparently the other staple amongst the modest folk of Peru is what they might call the “papas fritas.”
I come to this understanding after finding that Mr. Pollo not only mixes the fries into a few of their dishes (like the Saltado de Pollo or Lomo Saltado), but they also seem to think putting chicken on top of french fries is a good idea. While I’m not a big fan of that idea, it may be considered genius in certain Peruvian circles.
Upon the recommendation from a much more cultured reporter, I also ordered the chicha morada, a drink I originally thought might be served at happy hour. It’s actually a drink traditionally made of red corn. It tasted like berry iced-tea to me, but what do I know? I’m just a white guy.
The whole meal experience itself was pretty good, however. My chicken, which was easily the highlight, was crispy, well-seasoned and cooked just right. One reporter made the comment that Dino’s Chicken in Azusa was better, but hey, a runner up to Dino’s is still pretty good.
The pinto beans were a bit salty, but still good. The chicha morada also served as a refreshing counterpoint to the rest of the meal.
Mr. Pollo is located at 500 N. Azusa Ave., Suite 107 in West Covina. For to-go orders call (626) 331-8090.
Written by Daniel Fritz