Best Pollo a la Brasa

El Pollo Rico
2517 University Blvd., Wheaton; (301) 942-4419
Super Chicken. Super Pollo. Apply whatever superlative you’d like to these Peruvian chickens, but they still can’t compete with the birds coming out of the ovens at El Pollo Rico in Wheaton. (To be honest, I don’t frequent the Arlington location enough to vouch for its product.) I keep looking for someone, anyone, to break the spell that El Pollo has on my palate, but no joint has done it yet. Super Chicken in Falls Church turns out a terrific smoked bird, but the chicken’s flavors are monolithic and immovable, all smoke and salt, as subtle as death metal. The birds at El Pollo inspire reflection; they make you wonder about the source of all those flavors crossing your tongue. I also like the Wheaton store’s expanded space, which is far more comfortable than its old smoke-hole just a few blocks over. The location itself attracts all comers, too—white, black, Latino, Asian, anyone who can appreciate the finest smoked birds this area has to offer.

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