Strolling in to the bustling Pollo Rey around the Friday dinner rush, my dining companion and I braved the loud chattering and blaring mariachi music for some south-of-the-border eats. Previous trips had proved fruitful, as the atmosphere at Pollo Rey is always laid-back and casual and the food is reliable, good and always economical.
We immediately walked up to the counter to place and pay for our order. Behind the register was the menu, which was inexpensive and non-expansive. Basic, plain Mexican food such as quesadillas, nachos, burritos and tacos were offered. Drinks were limited to Pepsi products and a few brands of beer. We placed our order for a roasted chicken quesadilla with sour cream and guacamole (smeared inside for a buck extra) and the chicken nachos. We were given a receipt with our number and our soft drink cups. We filled them and grabbed some napkins at the condiment stand next to the soda machine.
We chose a table and watched the cook both work behind the counter and check out the crowd. There were a few families and a few dates seated at the brightly covered tables. There are plenty of colored tiles and adornments in the place, making the atmosphere cheerful and festive. People chattered and laughed, eager for a casual meal to kick off a relaxing weekend.
Our number was called relatively quickly, and we grabbed our baskets, filled with steamy food, simple and unembellished. The roasted chicken quesadilla was cut into eight slices, two plain tortillas with roasted chicken, guacamole and sour cream layered together inside. Beneath the quesadilla was a bit more than a handful of plain corn tortilla chips. My nachos were served in a dish the same size, with plain tortilla chips covered in sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, chicken, cheese and little else.
We immediately tore in. My mate in mastication said the roasted chicken had really great flavor, but the spread of sour cream was inconsistent. In some bites, there was so much sour cream it fell out, and in others, there was none at all, leaving the spicy guacamole on its own. There wasn't any topping provided or left over to down the tortilla chips with either.
The nachos were good, but seemed to be missing some necessary accoutrements—like more meat or refried beans, something substantial. All in all, the food was fine, but as my date and I finished the meal, we still felt hungry. The portions were not very large, and only plain tortilla chips accompanied the quesadilla and the nachos stood alone. It seemed something extra should have come with the combo to make it more of a substantial meal. Most fast food joints give you a lot more food, or more filling food, for the same price.
We decided next time we should go with one of the bigger meals, and maybe order some sides to fill up on. The food itself was decent, fresh and quick on a busy Friday night, which is always appreciated. Pollo Rey is great for those on a budget who want a quick meal, downtown or near Edwards. Just make sure to order according to your hunger level.
—Natasha Gilmore resculpts paper clips in the face of anxiety.