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Guest Review: Disney World’s Pollo Campero

Thanks to Leigh Caldwell for putting together this great review of Pollo Campero, Disney World’s newest quick service restaurant, which opened in Downtown Disney this weekend. Leigh writes about Walt Disney World and theme parks in general on her site, ThemeParkMom.com, and for AOL’s travel blog, Gadling.com.

My daughter and I made a visit to the Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney this weekend, and we had to stop in to try the new Pollo Campero restaurant for lunch.

Pollo Campero is a counter service restaurant, which shares space with two other eateries – Fresh A-Peel and Babycakes NYC. It’s part of a chain of chicken restaurants that serve up Latin flavors.

The new restaurants opened Nov. 12 at Downtown Disney, in the building formerly occupied by McDonald’s, in between T-Rex Cafe and the Lego store.

Atmosphere
At Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Peel guests order at the counter, get their food and proceed to a central bank of cash registers to pay, much like the Sunshine Seasons set-up. There was a long line when we visited, but it moved quickly. There were about 10 parties ahead of us, but we had our food in 15 minutes.

Ordering Counters

When a new restaurant opens, there are always a few kinks to be worked out, right? One funny “new restaurant” thing happened right off the bat. When we got our drinks, we grabbed lids and straws. But when my daughter went to put her straw in her drink, I heard her making frustrated noises behind me. It turns out they had put out the lids for food containers that don’t have a hole for straws instead of the drink-cup lids.

Pollo Campero Accidentally Put Out the Wrong Lids

Eats
For adults, Pollo Campero offers a “Create Your Meal” with choices for your entree and side for $6.99. The entrees are 2 pieces of fried chicken, 1/4 citrus grilled chicken, 3 chicken strips or a grilled or fried chicken sandwich.

Fried Chicken

Pollo Campero Grilled Chicken

The sides available are black beans with white rice, Campero rice, Campero beans, sweet plantains, yuca fries or French fries.

Rice and Beans

Plantains and Yuca

Pollo Campero has a salsa bar with tomatillo salsa, chipotle salsa, pico de gallo and a mixture of chopped onion and cilantro.

Salsa Bar

I tried the citrus grilled chicken and black beans with white rice. They asked if I wanted a white or dark quarter. There was no difference in price, and I chose the white. The chicken was delicious – very moist, and I could taste the citrus flavor on the meat, rather than just the skin. As for the black beans and rice, they were bland. I had added some of the onion/cilantro mixture on top of them, and that was the only saving grace for this side. Once I ran out of the onions and cilantro, the rest of my rice and beans were so flavorless that they weren’t worth eating.

Grilled Chicken Meal

But all of the meals come with two warm corn tortillas, so then I had a flash of brilliance and used them to make some chicken tacos with the rice, beans and pico de gallo from the salsa bar.

Leigh's Flash of Brilliance Self-Made Chicken Taco

Kids’ meals are $3.99. The kids can choose from 2 fried chicken strips, 3 grilled chicken strips (no idea why there’s a difference in the number) or 1 piece of fried chicken. My daughter chose the fried chicken strips. Kids also get a choice of one of the aforementioned sides or organic applesauce.

I tasted her chicken strip, and it was very good, crispy and not greasy at all. A number of usual sauces (barbecue, honey mustard, etc.) were available, along with “Campero Sauce.” We tried this sauce and found it to be nothing more than ketchup and mayonnaise stirred together. I was hoping for something special.

Chicken Tenders

Pollo Campero also has some packaged desserts (like flan and tres leches cake) and cold salads available in barrels near the cash registers. The usual Coca-Cola soft drinks are available, and there’s a beverage bar that offers alcoholic drinks and some latin soft drinks.

Desserts

Bar

The restaurant also has a family meal available where you can get a whole grilled chicken and a couple of sides for $16.99. That sounds like it would work out well for a couple of adults and kids and be quite the bargain by Downtown Disney standards.

Overall, I thought that the entrees, both grilled and fried, were excellent. I will try a different side next time, though. I will probably go for the Campero beans or sweet plantains on my next trip.

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20 Comments

  1. carolyn says:

    Thank you for the review. I’m a vegetarian so it looks like rice/beans/yucca/plantains would be an option, too bad they lacked flavor (smart idea you had making the mini burrito) However, I am traveling with omnivores and one in particular likes fried chicken so this may be something for her (my mom) to try. Did you, by any chance, check out the Fresh A-peel side? Is that a smoothie place? I’m curious to what that is.

    Oh! Prices didn’t seem that bad, either. Especially on the kids meal. :)

    Thanks again!

  2. I didn’t try Fresh A-peel on this trip – there was only so much food that the two of us could eat. :) But it does have a full menu and is vegetarian friendly. I don’t remember the whole menu, but they have a veggie chopped salad and a veggie burger, for sure.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Thanks! Oh boy – got to rethink my travel plans now!! :-). I had my heart set on EoS but I may need to make more than one DTD stop to try the new places. :-). Thank you for the info!

  4. [...] UPDATE Now open It opened!!! Guest Review: Disney World’s Pollo Campero | the disney food blog [...]

  5. Kate says:

    When will I learn to not read food blogs when I’m hungry? :-)

    Too bad about the bland sides — it would have been a great stop for us, except my veggie son would probably end up going hungry! Thanks for the review.

  6. Karlise says:

    I *may* try it out in the future but I don’t think my husband who is a vegetarian will bother. I bet most of the side items have some sort of chicken or meat based broth in them.

    From their website: No products are certified as vegetarian; all products may contain trace amounts of ingredients derived from animals.

    I am interested to read about the Fresh A Peel side though!

  7. Yani says:

    I can’t believe they closed the McD’s for this…. I’m sure the food is good here but still. I loved the McD’s better.

  8. Sarah says:

    I attempted to eat there on Saturday, but they didn’t open at their scheduled 11am time. Those waiting were told there was a delay until the afternoon, but possibly would open in an hour. We were given a sample of a vegan oatmeal raisin cookie that was soy and gluten free. Not quite the same a chicken sandwich… I’ll have to head over again at some point to try Pollo.

  9. JulFromMD says:

    From our experience at the local Pollo Campero, I’m thrilled that this will be an option at Downtown Disney. One thing you have to do with most of the sides there (except the sweet plantains) is to make a good use of that salsa bar. For people who are not familiar with yuca fries, it may be a shock for most folks. Although they look like steak-style potato fries, the taste is a lot blander and much more starchy. But you add some salsa to it, and they’re much more tasty. Very curious to hear about the other places in there…

  10. Alan says:

    New things to do and eat are what brings most of us back to WDW as often as we can visit. This seems like an interesting new restaurant, sort of out of the ordinary. As far as the McDonald’s – Lord knows that would be the last place I would want to eat at on a vacation, with all the other choices available, but I wonder about some families with super picky eaters to whom nuggets and fries are all they will eat. I wish they could have found a way to give those folks an option.

    As far as the couple of negatives in the review, maybe the Pollo Campero people will be reading AJ’s blog and Leigh’s blog and review. To me, that is just good business practice.

  11. Sandra Givens says:

    My husband hated that McDonald’s; it was often dirty and the staff sullen. Too bad, because it was a good location, but since this place has both burgers and chicken–including fried chicken strips–it should fill the bill for a family with kids. We will try it in a couple of weeks. The Cooke’s fish place near Raglan Road has battered chicken nuggets that kids might like too.

    And if you really want McD’s, there is still one open all or most of the night right outside the gates of the All Star Resort. We’ve made midnight runs several times from Music.

  12. Ellen D. says:

    Can’t wait to visit the new incarnation of the old McD’s (which you can get on every corner). Between Pollo Campero, the yet-to-be reviewed Fresh A-Peel and BabyCakes, I think I’ll be there often.

  13. Josh says:

    Nice review Leigh!

    I really like what they did with the old McDonald’s and seems like it should be a good fit. At least there’s no /french/ french fries.

  14. AJ says:

    Carolyn — Oh no! Two must-do quick service spots in DTD for you! :-)

    Kate and Karlise — Keep us updated on whether or not you try it! Sounds like you might be able to find some things over at Fresh Apeel!

    Yani — Alas, there’s still the McDonald’s over by the All-Stars resorts! :-)

    Sarah — What? You would rather have a full meal than a sample of a cookie? What’s gotten into you? ;-D

    JulfromMD — I get sort of frustrated when I have to add sauces to get taste from the food…but, then again, I do love my queso here in Texas!

    Alan — Hear, hear! Also, regarding choices available, luckily DTD has so many decent take-out spots that everyone’s bound to find something they like. It’s like a giant food court over there, eh?

    Sandra — I wonder if that McD’s is all night… will have to check that out. That would be good info to have. When’s your trip?

    Ellen — Keep us updated on your review, my friend!

    Josh — Aw, but I like french fries!

  15. JoaquĆ­n says:

    The chicken is delicious and awesome! I’m so happy they made it to Disney! Hoorrayyy!

  16. Stefanie says:

    LOL on the captions- “Leigh’s Flash of Brilliance Self-Made Chicken Taco”. I am excited to try this one, looks like a good deal for DTD.

  17. AJ says:

    Joaquin — Me too!

    Stefanie — Hee hee! Have a great Holiday Season! See you in January!

  18. Evelyn says:

    I didn’t see that anyone else has mentioned the wraps that are sold next to the Pollo hot line.
    They’re delicious, light and pretty healthy – better if you order without the salad dressings. Our wrap was large enough to feed two people. And if I recall there is an all vegetarian wrap too (with eggplant?). They offer choices of grilled chicken, grilled steak, and tunafish. We ordered the grilled chicken. It was made to order in front of us – lots of lettuce, black beans, corn and we added tomatoes — it was a big salad stuffed in a flour wrap. At about $7 it was very economical given that it fed two. The salsa bar, watermelon sangria, and Babycakes under the same roof all a bonus!

  19. AJ says:

    Evelyn — Thank you so much for the reviews!!

  20. JoAnn says:

    I ate here on opening day last year. I thought it was new but didn’t know how new it really was until I read this. The fried chicken was really good. I had the rice and beans as the side which I didn’t think was too bad. I asked three people if they accepted the dining plan and got three different answers – “yes”, “no” and “what’s that?”. I opted to pay out of pocket which was around $10 with a drink, not too bad.

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