We ranked (almost) all the food at Pollo Tropical from best to worst. How did your favorite do?

Photos by Connie Ogle

We don’t want to hear about your Chik-Fil-A or your Chipotle. And you can keep your KFC. In Miami, when we want chicken, we head to Pollo Tropical.

Founded in 1988 by brothers Larry and Stuart Harris, Pollo Tropical is a Miami-based chain that specializes in Caribbean-style fast food. Its specialty is fire-grilled chicken, but there are other things on the menu, and some of them are very worth eating.

Some, as you might have suspected, are not.

So our panel of experts – and by “experts” we mean whoever happened to be sitting nearby when we decided to do this – ranked just about everything we could find on the menu. Here’s what you should order for maximum happiness.

Please bring us all the food, Pollo Tropical.

First, a word about the sauces…

Yes, we ranked them, too:

  1. Cilantro garlic: This is the ranch dressing of Pollo Tropical. There is literally nothing that won’t be improved by its addition.
  2. Curry mustard: Slather it everywhere, especially on the chicken
  3. Guava BBQ: Not bad
  4. Regular BBQ: Basic
  5. Spicy Poyo-Poyo: Tabasco with pretensions
  6. Pineapple Rum: Overly sweet and grotesque. As appealing as a rotten mango.

Entrees (ranked in order of deliciousness)

1. Chipotle Chicken Sandwich: It comes crispy or grilled, so if you want to act superior, order the grilled. BUT WHY? You can get it fried! Either way you get a fat juicy chicken breast with tasty chipotle sauce. #winning.

2. Crispy Pollo Bites: Suck it, McNuggets. These fried chicken bites were born to be popped into one of Pollo Tropical’s sauces and devoured swiftly.

3. Chicken BLT Sandwich: There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think bacon needs to be on everything and those who don’t. This is for those who do.

Ordering any sandwich is more sensible than getting a salad at Pollo Tropical.

 

4. Guava BBQ Ribs: You only think you don’t want to order ribs here. But this is the sleeper meat of the bunch.

5. Classic chicken: Look, Pollo Tropical has its good days (when the chicken comes out juicy) and bad days (when it doesn’t). Today was a bad day. But since we know what to do, we poured cilantro sauce all over it.

6. Mojo Roast Pork: Like the chicken, it can sometimes be little bit dry. If you want perfect pork, contact your abuela.

7. Classic Chicken Sandwich: Still a nice piece of chicken but kind of bland. You’re going to need some sauce to class it up. May we suggest cilantro garlic?

8. Tropichop: No matter what you put in it – chicken, pork, beans, rice, vegetables – the  Tropichop inevitably tastes of disappointment and mild regret.

9. Guava Pork Sandwich: A poorly executed sandwich. But hey, it’s not called “Puerco Tropical,” and there’s a reason for that.

10. Quesadilla salad: You’re ordering a salad at Pollo Tropical? Who hurt you?

The Caesar wrap haunts our nightmares.

11. Caesar wrap: This should be called Slimy Wet Lettuce Wrap. No, thank you. Note: there is also a Tangy Bacon Wrap with shrimp, but we just could not bring ourselves to order shrimp at Pollo Tropical.

Sides

1. Black beans and white rice: So good it could easily be your entree, though trying to eat it in your car is problematic.

2. Sweet plantains: Crunchy on the edges, soft inside and way better than any of the desserts we tried. Looking at you, soggy Key lime pie.

3. Fried yucca: Basically a vehicle for cilantro garlic sauce, but it’s crunchy goodness, not greasy at all.

4. French fries: Yes, we ordered fries at Pollo Tropical, and we regret nothing.

Don’t sleep on the balsamic tomatoes.

5. Balsamic tomatoes: You either love this tangy salad or hate all that is fresh and healthy in the world.

6. Mac and cheese: Look, it’s not ideal, but at least your kids will eat it.

7. Mashed potato: We sense there are approximately 12 sticks of butter per serving, but it is clearly real potato. No, we did not pour cilantro garlic sauce on it, why do you ask?

8. Corn: Tastewise, indistinguishable from the bowl.

The gringo trio: Mac and cheese, mashed potato, corn. Stick with fried yucca for best results.

9. Cole slaw: No.

10. Brown rice: Just stop it.

And the worst item we tried was:

Cuatro Leches: You may be tempted to order this dessert because you believe you are getting a free, extra leche. But it is not a positive leche. It is a soggy, grainy leche that is best left unexplored.

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