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Food

Recession Obsession: Rob Long Loves Central American Chicken

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A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it stays 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 some organic Asian at Green Zone, and Mercado La Paloma near USC. Today, we obsess...

In Recession Obsession -- a weekly guide on how one can inexpensively achieve a beer gut during The Recession without beer -- we’ve obsessed over Guatemalan, and we’ve obsessed over chicken. But not yet Guatemalan chicken. (No, not GFC.)

Pollo Campero’s great eats and fast food-prices (it is fast-food) cater favorably to families on a budget, and sitcom writers with discerning palates. One such food-centric scribe is Emmy winner, and KCRW's Martini Shot man, Rob Long (LAist Interview.)

“What I love about Pollo Campero is just how perfectly it mimics a typical American fast-food restaurant -- silly cartoon spokeschicken, bright orange and yellow logo, idiotic uniforms, paper hats,” he said. Pollo Campero is not only LAist’s latest Recession Obsession, but Long’s as well.

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The Long Guide to Pollo Campero

Whether grilled, fried, or in finger-form, "the focus is on the chicken,” he said. It's "crispy and deliciously greasy and smells like it should, like a hint of spiciness. It gets on your fingers and stains the wax paper and leaves a peppery tingle on your lips."

It's “ridiculously tasty,” he said. In that thought, Long's certainly not alone. According to their website, “Campero has achieved many successes such as serving more than 75 million customers a year.”

“The secret to eating at Pollo Campero is to forget about everything but the chicken and the plantains,” he said. “There's rice, of course -- which is awfully clumpy and tasteless -- and french fries -- sad, doughy. Ignore them.”

Got Sides?

The plantains are “deeply brown and caramelized -- sticky, rich, barely sweet,” he said. While this author has enjoyed Campero’s unadorned plantains many times, there is something wonderfully indulgent about their suggested lubricant.

They’re “presented with the single greatest condiment ever found in a fast-food establishment: a fat pyramid wedge of sour cream,” he said. “You squirt the sour cream onto the wax paper, scoop it up with the gooey plantain, and then go ask the girl at the counter for more sour cream, which she'll give you, reluctantly.”

Long admitted his chicken-and-plantain tunnel-vision has kept him from their yuca fries. “ Everybody always talks about sweet potato this and yucca that, but it's hard to improve on the crispy regular potato, with salt, and grease."

This writer assures both Long and yourself that the yuca fries are wonderful. When fresh out of the grease vat, during their precious, newborn moments, their outsides are firm and salty, with inside like slightly sweet mashed potatoes. Though it's doubtful that Long will find out for himself.

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“I like to leave room for more sour cream,” he said.

  • Pollo Campero Hollywood | 5555 Sunset Boulevard | Los Angeles 90028
  • Pollo Campero Pico-Union | 1605 W. Olympic Boulevard | Los Angeles 90015
  • They have locations in most corner of Los Angeles. Find out here.

Pollo Campero Photos by Caleb Bacon (Twitter) for LAist | Rob Long Photo by Marc Goldstein / used with permission

Where do you get your Central American chicken? Comment Below!