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.
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.
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.
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.
The sides available are black beans with white rice, Campero rice, Campero beans, sweet plantains, yuca fries or French fries.
Pollo Campero has a salsa bar with tomatillo salsa, chipotle salsa, pico de gallo and a mixture of chopped onion and cilantro.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.