Recession Obsession: El Pollo 'Loco'
Dino's Chicken Plate. Not pictured: Side of coleslaw, salsa, or hot peppers. Photo by Fiona of gourmetpigs
A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it sticks in your mind long after digestion's end, and, 2) plays nice with your sensitive wallet. Is there a better place than Los Angeles to eat a wide variety of amazing food that so happens to be inexpensive? Probably not. We're as lucky as we are well fed. We last obsessed over Mobile Japanese Burgers and an Indian Spot. Today we obsess...Remember: Go to the burger and get the chicken. Don't be afraid. Ignore the shady parking lot, the homeless guy asking for change, and the guy selling the pirated DVDs. Your stomach (and wallet) will thank you. Ignore the "B" rating, ignore the graffiti, and ignore the menu. You don't need it. Just ask for the chicken plate.
Dino's Burgers, on the corner of Pico and Berendo, is not known for the burgers (mediocre, nothing to write home about). No one really knows Dino's Burgers. It's always Dino's, Dino's Chicken, or Dino's chicken plate (tags to this post reflect that). Enough to the point that it's now called Dino's Chicken and Burgers. Not sure why "Burgers" are still mentioned.
"El pollo maniaco," the chicken plate (NOT a translation, I'm just describing the dish), is their signature dish. Greek in origin, Hispanic in execution. A true fusion of cultures (pre-Kogi), might have been influenced by Dino's proximity to Koreatown and the Byzantine Latino Quarter. 8 out of 10 people order it. This fiery orange chicken is bursting with flavor (to borrow a popular phrase from Yelp)! But really, it is. It's loaded with garlic and oregano, so if you forget your pack of gum/mints it will stay with you all day (in your breath and in your belly).
It's served in your typical packaging (think Chinese take-out) on a mountain of handcut fries, stacked up like an altar, with 1/2 a chicken on top. Slathered with some more seasoning. A worthy sacrifice to the gods (of hunger, or chicken). It will appease. It comes with a side of homemade coleslaw (you can substitute with rice or beans, but why would you want to do that?) and three tortillas. You can also request some hot peppers and salsa on the side. Mix and match, enjoy. The highlight of my plate is the bed of fries, that has soaked up all of the juices and secret seasoning from the chicken by the time I get to it. Good luck getting to the bottom though. It's enough to satisfy one very hungry person (w/ some chicken and fries scattered around) or two moderately hungry folks. Don't worry if you don't finish it; there is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, just a puddle of slightly congealed oil.
The crowd is mostly Hispanic and young Koreans, and there is indoor/outdoor dining (fancy!). If you want to buy your pirated DVD's, he's usually around at night. There is another location in Azusa, and one opening in Pomona on Arrow Highway on December 3rd. For more information about store hours and directions, click here. How much will it cost you? 5.50 (tax included). My friend and I had two plates plus two sodas for 13.60. I should also mention that my dining companion took half of her plate and finished it later in the day. It travels pretty well so feel free to pick up a few and take some home for the family. Before you go back to your car, be sure to drop off some change to the homeless guy. It's still cheaper than eating anywhere else.
Dino's Chicken and Burgers
2575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90006