Best Pollo a La Brasa

Best: El Pollo Rico
932 N. Kenmore St., Arlington (703) 522-3220
2nd Best: Chirilagua Pollo & Steak
4112 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. (703) 837-9100
The problem with pollo a la brasa isn’t determining the best (I like El Pollo Rico; others swear by the same-named restaurant in Wheaton) or worst; it’s differentiating restaurants in the vast middle of the pack. So while the chicken at Chirilagua Pollo & Steak, a newish Arlandria joint, is very good, it’s no better than at 50 other similar restaurants. However, its sides, specifically its refried beans, vault it to silver. The beans look like normal beans, but deep currents of unexpected taste run through the usually forgettable side—butter, smoke, salt, heaven. On trying these beans several of my friends have found themselves swearing uncontrollably; best to avoid them if you’re an evangelical, then, though an atheist might be forced to reconsider humanism after eating such remarkable, life-changing legumes.