Jul 18, 2015

Review: El Pollo Loco - Mexican Caesar Bowl

El Pollo Loco Mexican Caesar Bowl features chopped chicken breast, rice, lettuce, tortilla strips, cotija cheese, cilantro, and creamy cilantro dressing. It's one of the new options available on their currently running $5 Pollo Bowl Combos.

I picked a combo up with tortilla chips (substituted for the standard tortillas) and a drink for an even $5.

I think that the name "Mexican Caesar" charmed me far more than I'm willing to admit, hence why I ordered this version of the Pollo Bowl. Unfortunately, ordering a salad on top of rice really is as bad an idea as it sounds. I felt like El Pollo Loco had taken two perfectly good dishes and mashed them together to head-scratching results.

Although they didn't play nice together, the separate ingredients in the Mexican Caesar Bowl were of excellent quality.

El Pollo Loco happens to be one of my favorite places to get chicken, and the flavorful, perfectly grilled, and juicy pieces of chicken breast I received on my bowl did not fail to deliver. The chicken was, by far, my favorite part of the bowl. There was also plenty of chicken to go around and kept me sufficiently satiated with the protein content.
The lettuce was decently crisp and fresh, and there was a surprising amount of it in the bowl. I was expecting less lettuce and more rice, but it was a pretty even split. The lettuce remained fairly cool despite sitting below the chicken and above a serving of rice, although it did begin to wilt the longer it sat in the bowl. The lettuce was never pleasant at any stage of eating the bowl. During the first bites, the contrast of cool lettuce and hot chicken and rice made my mouth slightly confused. Further into the bowl, I was left eating warm and wilted lettuce; while the temperature of all the ingredients matched, wilted lettuce is never a good thing.

The rice had a nice, light seasoning to it and was well-cooked. Neither was it mushy nor hard, and it complemented the chicken breast pieces well.

The remaining toppings were fairly average. The tortilla strips provided a nice crunch here and there but were otherwise unremarkable (though at least I should be thankful that they weren't stale). I was wishing that there was more of the cilantro and cotija cheese, since both those toppings were fairly mild in their presence.

Considering that the the bowl also comes with a creamy cilantro dressing, I was surprised at how little cilantro herbiness I tasted in my bowl. The dressing tastes more generically creamy and savory to me rather than herby, but it did pair fantastically with the chicken and and lettuce.

Overall, El Pollo Loco's Mexican Caesar Bowl was a mixed bag for me. The flavors in the bowl were delicious, mostly due in part to the phenomenal chicken and dressing, but it felt like I was supposed to be eating two separate dishes. The entire time I was eating the Mexican Caesar Bowl, I was wishing that I had simply just ordered a salad rather than this confusing salad and rice mixture.

Nutritional Info - El Pollo Loco Mexican Caesar Bowl (10.7 oz)
Calories - 480 (from Fat - 200)
Fat - 24g (Saturated Fat - 4.5g)
Sodium - 1030mg
Carbs - 39g (Sugar - 3g)
Protein - 28g

By Renee.

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