For nearly 20 years, El Pollo Rico has been a favorite. I was initially turned on to the place by Phyllis Richman's "top 50 cheap eats" from the Washington Post, and then by a friend who finally got me to go. He pointed out some things that have stuck with me over the years.
Those who patron the place are like a United Nations of people, but the BEST of the United Nations. Many are South Americans (it IS Peruvian chicken place!). They are a beautiful people, rich in culture. There are Chinese Americans, black, white... blue and white collar. There are old, young... people with kids and even grandkids. The parking lot has work trucks, BMWs and even a Honda like mine. I even saw a limo drive up as I was leaving.
But this would mean nothing if the chicken wasn't heavenly. I don't know what they do to draw out so much flavor. It helps with the jalapeno & yellow-hot mustard dipping sauces. The old-time stake cut fries are the perfect way to get every last bit. NO ketchup for the purist here; it would just be evil. Add some coleslaw and an Inca cola, and the magic begins.
I look around me and see men using their forks; but they are with women or family. Then you see the men like me... solo, and they come with clean hands because they know they will be eating with their fingers. And it WILL be a mess, a lovely mess.
I was told that they can easily sell 3,000 chickens in a day. Sometimes on Saturdays, the line will go out of the door (oh... this place was retro-fitted into a convenience store I think. Nothing fancy, but that IS part of it). Price is really low, but don't let that fool you. My thanks to all that work at this store, and I offer a tribute to the years of great work. Thank you, thank you, thank you. YOU are a big part of the reason I return to the D.C. Metro area.