Burrito and sides at El Pollo Chulo in Oklahoma City

El Pollo Chulo: it’s dandy chicken

by | November 5, 2007 | 53 Comments

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El Pollo Chulo is located at 5805 NW 50th Street in Oklahoma City and is open 7 days a week (map).

PLEASE NOTE: This review was written before El Pollo Chulo moved to its new location on NW 50th Street.

I have seen El Pollo Chulo a hundred times sitting on the corner of Meridian and 23rd in Oklahoma City, but have never stopped. This is unlike me. Part of it is because there is a Mexican restaurant every 200 feet in this town and it gets old eating Mexican food every night. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mexican, but let’s be honest, stale chips and watered down cheese dip get old after a while. That’s where Pollo Chulo is a breath of fresh air. First off, its Spanish, not Mexican. Is there another Spanish restaurant in Oklahoma City? I know Tom and Jerry’s and other popular OKC eateries serve tapas periodically, but is there really a Spanish place in town? If so, please leave a comment and let me know because if this is what Spanish food tastes like I want more!

Exterior of El Pollo Chulo in Oklahoma City

El Pollo Chulo is in an unassuming building along West 23rd in an area of town with very little culinary appeal. It did have a fairly nicely restored convertible Volkswagen Beetle out front, which made me like it from the start. We walked into a completely empty building which, to be honest, made me a little uneasy. As we ate several people came and ordered takeout, however, which explained the lack of bodies in seats.

The specialty is obviously chicken. But not just any chicken, lime and fruit marinated, flame broiled, perfectly seasoned, juicy, succulent chicken. They have several side items to choose from that are served cafeteria-style out of big warmers. They offer white rice, Spanish rice, roasted potatoes, a vegetable medley, a few types of beans, and spaghetti. They also serve a few types of fish, burritos of several varieties, and a variety of Mediterranean-type desserts such as baklava and a few cakes. I also like a guy, like this restaurant’s owner, who is passionate about his art. He is not afraid to tell you exactly what to eat and why. He knows his chicken is awesome and he has a little swagger when he goes to chop off a couple meaty chunks for you.

A few things you should be aware of:

  1. The side item portions are single serving portions. So, if you order the eight piece and four sides to feed a family of five, it won’t be enough. Order additional sides.
  2. You may have to talk your wife into it when she sees an empty building like I did, but it is well worth it.
  3. The chicken is addictive and you will find yourself craving it at strange times. For instance, it is 11pm right now and I’m fighting the urge to start stockpiling this chicken in my fridge so I can heat it up at night, even knowing full well it won’t be the same reheated.

El Pollo Chulo has everything you want in a local eatery. The owner is in there to greet you and tell you what you should order, the price is VERY nice (8 piece chicken meal and 4 sides is 10 bucks), it is certified by the National Heart Association as a heart-friendly prepared meal, and did I mention they drive what is either a late 60′s or early 70′s Standard Volkswagen Beetle or a ’71 Super? I didn’t have time to check the suspension to find out. The food is fantastic and may now be my favorite chicken in this town. Now if I can just find a decent Weiner Schnitzel my culinary desires will be totally fulfilled.

Flame Broiled Chicken. I have definitely found a new favorite way to eat chicken in Oklahoma City.

El Pollo Chulo on Urbanspoon

This article was posted by Andrew Littleton on Monday, November 5th, 2007. It is filed under:

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  • LPecan says:
    November 5th, 2007 at 12:15 pm   

    Wow! I never would have thought that place was Spanish… Ill have to try it now. Did they have Paella?

  • Michael says:
    November 5th, 2007 at 9:22 pm   

    Thanks for the heads up, Andrew. I’ve seen that location many times. I definitely plan to try it out soon!

  • Andrew says:
    November 5th, 2007 at 9:49 pm   

    No Paella at El Pollo Chulo to my knowledge. They have a spanish rice, but no saffron in it that I could tell. The showcase here is definitely the chicken.

  • Pilgrim says:
    November 6th, 2007 at 1:40 am   

    Wow! That is so different from our experience. We call it El Pollo Disgusto because it was so bad.

  • jimmy paravane says:
    November 6th, 2007 at 4:44 am   

    Hopefully Pilgrim just hit them on a bad night because I have to try this chicken. I haven’t had good marinated flame broiled chicken since I moved here from L.A. I need my fix! (grin)

  • Tim says:
    November 7th, 2007 at 7:36 am   

    I used to eat at El Pollo Chulo when it was at its prior location, a little farther north on either Meridian or Macarthur (can’t remember which).

    I remember liking it a lot and thinking that it was healthy and out of the ordinary. I also remember the owner, Fred, who is just as you’ve described here.

    Haven’t been back since I’ve moved back to the city and this article is making me hungry to try it again.

  • Mike says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 2:52 pm   

    I have eaten at ELPolLo Chulo 4-5 years when it was @ NW 50th & macarthur.Not the food is healthy and good but the owner Fred, he is really a man who is everything you said & some more. I enjoy his chicken as much as his personality.

  • Kathy says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 7:46 pm   

    Our whole family loves this place. The food is wonderful and Fred is delightful. It is a little treasure on the west side of town.

  • Cale says:
    December 21st, 2007 at 1:38 pm   

    Not real sure what happened to Pilgrim but i don’t have a single complaint about this place, usually eat here 2-3 times a week. Best chicken in town and the spanish steak is amazing too.

  • Lynne and Jim says:
    December 27th, 2007 at 6:25 pm   

    We have been following Fred, the owner around for over 10 or 11 years now; wherever he opens up, we are there at least 3 to 4 times a week. Everything we have tried is very very good. For the last several months, I can just walk in and say “the usual” and Fred knows I am ordering the 2 piece chicken with black beans on spanish rice and the steamed veggies. He also has the best soft flour tortillas I have ever eaten to go along with the meal and the salsa, ah the salsa; you have got to try the salsa, he makes it himself. Jim loves the chicken too but one of his favorites is the salmon stuffed with crab. I always take a bite when he gets that and it is tasty! If you haven’t tried El Pollo Chulo, let us add our encouragement. You will be in for a treat. The food is great but getting to know Fred is the best part. He always has a good day and after you have come in a few times, he will remember your name and greet you as a friend. We have been promoting Fred’s restaurant on our own web site since 1999.

  • Melissa and Olan says:
    December 30th, 2007 at 4:11 pm   

    LOVE IT!!! We live in Colorado and everytime we come to visit family, we eat at Fred’s 2-3 times while we are there. We have told many people about it and they always love it. The chicken is awesome and the new Spanish steak is great. My kids love it too and it is healthy. Give it a try – Pilgrim doesn’t know what good food is!

  • Kent says:
    January 3rd, 2008 at 5:55 pm   

    Best chicken in OKC, hands down. And what a value: the big “meal deal” gets you 12 pieces of chicken, 4 sides, plus tortillas & that outstanding salsa, for $15.00. I drive the kids crazy with how much I go on about this chicken!

  • Tim says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 7:11 pm   

    I finally got back to try El Pollo Chulo today at lunch. Man, I remember why I liked it so much. $6 for a perfectly filling and healthy meal. Chicken, black beans, rice, steamed vegetables, tortillas and salsa — all wonderful.

    By the way, Fred is building a new building from the ground up near 50th and MacArthur so it looks like that will be the new home soon.

  • Anne says:
    February 8th, 2008 at 3:01 pm   

    For other delicious grilled chicken, I would recommend Max Pollo on SE 25th in Capitol Hill. It’s served Sinaloa-style with corn tortillas, rice, beans, a whole grilled onion and a potato. Half a chicken with the sides runs about $6. My fellow Max-goers have the shrimp dishes (shrimp with devil’s sauce and habanero sauce were hits with the spicy-food-lovers), but I have to get the chicken every time — because who knows when I’ll be back?! Next week, probably, but it’s really delicious. And judging by the strong smell of Fabuloso cleaner, it’s spic and span to boot!

  • Aimee says:
    February 12th, 2008 at 9:58 am   

    Have you heard Fred is moving! The sign for the new location is on 50th between Meridian and Mac.! See you there

  • Mick says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 1:04 pm   

    I have eaten at El Pollo Chulo about a dozen times and found it to be overall good but inconsistent. Fruit-juice marinated grilled chicken is unusual in OKC but a staple in Mexico and can be found elswhere in some franchises like El Pollo Loco.

    The chicken is apparently cooked in quantity in the morning then left on the grill to warm throughout day. You may occasionally be the unlucky recipient of a drumstick from the bottom layer that has mummified through overcooking. Their salads are wonderful if they have all the ingredients; if they run out of salad dressing or greens, however, be prepared to get an not-too-tasty improvisation.

    The decor at El Pollo Chulo can be best described as early Salavation Army, and on every occasion a small fleet of two-dollar OKC beaters were offered for sale in the front parking lot.

    The funky ambiance in a different context could be an embellishment of a great meal – but they are more telltale about the unpredictable content and quality of food at El Pollo Chulo. This is a restaurant that should be packed but never is. If they can overcome their consistency issues, the customers will come.

  • Kim says:
    June 5th, 2008 at 4:33 pm   

    My husband and I have been eating at El Pollo Chulo (we call it Fred’s) for about 3 years now, at least once a week. The only inconsistency we have ever experienced in the food is if Fred isn’t there. His replacements don’t do the job with the same love and pride he does.

    We started eating at Fred’s before our first trip to Spain. When we came back from Spain, where we actually enjoyed quite a bit of Mediterranean style food, Fred recommended another place to us. It is called “Travel By Taste.” It is in a strip mall, behind Pizza Inn, on NW 49th and MacArthur. It seems to be a deli/restaurant. The food is delicious. I’ve been to all the other mediterranean restaurants on your site, and they are good, but the hummus at “Travel By Taste” is the best in the city. I often order an extra pint to -go. They are really great about letting you taste something if you haven’t had it before. Love it! Love it! Love it! Once my husband and I were coming into Travel By Taste, and we saw Fred walking out of the kitchen with a to-go bag. So we know he only recommends places he likes to eat himself.

    I just found your site and really like it. Thanks.

  • Derek says:
    June 19th, 2008 at 1:42 pm   

    I just had lunch at El Pollo Chulo and the recommendations in both the review and comments were spot on. The sides could use some work in both the quality and size of portions, but the chicken is definitely the star of the show and will keep me coming back there.

    Also, I spoke with Fred and he is NOT moving, but opening a second location….which is great news for humans, bad news for chickens.

  • TMB says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:23 am   

    I live in the area and never see the place crowded. I hope the new location attracts more patrons! I Love the chicken, but didn’t feel like the sides were very healthy options (aside from black beans & veggies). My biggest critique would be that he should hire a landscaper! The grass/weeds are often overgrown and the parking lot full of cars for sale or resale furniture is odd.

  • matt says:
    July 12th, 2008 at 2:18 pm   

    Mick, meet Pilgrim. Pilgrim, this is Mick. You guys will have a good time together not enjoying the things everyone else seems to love. I have only recently discovered this resaruant and am as addictided as most here seem to be. And Mick, the fact that Fred’s is not “more crowded” is less a sign of inconcistancy and more a sign of our Okie preference to eat in our cars or worse, the Olive Garden.

  • Israel says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 12:51 am   

    Great flavor on the Chicken and cheap.
    You can get two pieces of chicken with rice and beans an veggies just for 4.95….
    I went there today and I will be there againg soon…

  • Megan says:
    August 15th, 2008 at 12:34 pm   

    My fiancee and I eat at El Pollo Chulo regularly. I was also uneasy the first time I went in, but the food won me over. Fred knows us by name, and he knows exactly what we want when we come in. It’s nice to have a restaurant with such good food and small town appeal!

  • steve hungwell says:
    August 22nd, 2008 at 10:03 am   

    filthy nasty inside. Health dept. should shut them down. I ordered the Ranch Chicken Burrito OMG couldnt eat it. 3 out of 13 of us liked their food.
    Maybe better at lunch time.

  • David says:
    August 28th, 2008 at 2:55 pm   

    Kim is right on! Thank goodness someone else here has tried Travel By Taste! I also heard of this place from Fred. The side dishes are the best iv ever had in OKC, I like the blackend chicken dinner for a main course. So spicy and juicy.

    As far as El Pollo Chulo, the food is very tasty, but as a previous poster said, its always better when the owner Fred is actually there. He does an awesome job of cooking the chicken and keeping the side dishes fresh and tasty. I love their black beans and spanish rice.

  • PB says:
    August 31st, 2008 at 10:19 am   

    Took the family yesterday. My wife used to eat there all the time many years ago and kept nagging me to take her back.

    We got the family dinner and everyone in my family of 4 left happy. The chicken is amazing and the beans are really good. The rice was completely underwhelming but it didn’t ruin the meal for anyone.

    Super nice guy who is very helpful with instruction on what is available. We will definitely be going back.

  • Sharon says:
    November 20th, 2008 at 1:49 pm   

    Haha, I’ve driven right by about the same number of times. I usually get a chuckle out of whatever is on the marquee, but it never occurred to me to stop in!

  • karen says:
    November 23rd, 2008 at 8:38 pm   

    any peruvian food in okc??

  • Bob Bars says:
    November 25th, 2008 at 5:25 pm   

    Karen, they have a great assortment of different Central American and South American foods at Zarate’s in Edmond. It’s between 15th and 2nd Street on Broadway. You should be able to find some Peruvian dishes on their menu!

    Can’t wait to try El Pollo Chulo…maybe tonight!

  • karen says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 5:35 pm   

    thanks for ur help Bob

  • Kevin says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 8:45 pm   

    I was hankering for some chicken and I’ll likely be on that side of town Tuesday. May just swing on in and grab some bird to go.

  • Robert says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 12:22 am   

    I, too, have driven past the 23rd and Meridian restaurant for years without ever stopping in to eat. El Pollo Chulo was recommended to us to provide food for Scarlet’s Mid-Winter Renaissance Festival, so gave it a try.

    Wow. Fred was very friendly and the food was amazing! All of the vegetable dishes (rice, beans, potatoes, etc) are cooked without any meat broth or lard, so they are safe for vegetarians, no pork is used either, so the food is safe for a variety of dietary requirements. Oh, and the baklava was to die for!

  • kurt says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 9:48 pm   

    I ate there for the first time today and it was great! The chicken has a wonderful flavor and the sides were good too. I think it’s a great deal as well: only six bucks for three pieces, sides, and tortillas. I liked it so much I bought a family pack to take home.

  • Mick says:
    March 4th, 2009 at 9:53 pm   

    The new location at 5805 NW 50th is now open. It is a significant upgrade from the one on 23rd. The menu is expanded to include fish and street vendor tacos, grilled skewers and other items. I only tried the tacos and they were outstanding.

  • Steven says:
    March 16th, 2009 at 1:13 pm   

    I ate their with my wife and family this past Saturday at their new 2nd location on 50th. The inside is much cleaner and modern and the expanded menu was welcome. I had a Kickin Chicken Burrito and the street tacos. As always, everything was excellent and reminded me that I really should eat there more often. The street tacos we’re good, but I’ve had better at hole in the wall places in the Hispanic (Capitol Hill/Stockyards) part of town. The chicken is top notch. Definitely recommend!

  • Tim says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 8:44 pm   

    Tried the new location. I was a little disappointed. I probably had my expectations too high. The food was still just as good. They have expanded the menu offerings but they are really just more variations on the same ingredients. That’s ok with me though because I love the ingredients. Definitely a cleaner, more inviting atmosphere. Still great, healthy food.

    I don’t like the addition of a $0.75 surcharge on the use of credit cards. That’s a bummer. I’ll likely not be visiting unless I happen to have cash, which isn’t very often. Yes, I am really that cheap.

  • Liz R says:
    May 27th, 2009 at 12:39 am   

    This is a good place to grab dinner to go for the family. The chicken is tasty, healthy and everything is reasonably priced.

  • Kevin says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 6:22 am   

    Tim, don’t be that guy.
    Think of it this way, really great grub, or a fairly depressing newspaper.

  • Piper says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 10:06 pm   

    Oh my. El Pollo Chulo is one of my favorite restaurants! I ate there today for lunch. Fred is super friendly and gets my picky orders right every time without even writing them down. The food is fabulous and I eat there as often as possible. I totally recommend it!

  • Tim says:
    June 20th, 2009 at 1:47 pm   

    @Kevin, yeah, I really shouldn’t be so cheap. :)

  • LaWanna Jones says:
    June 28th, 2009 at 5:14 pm   

    I ate at El Pollo Chulo once when it was on the corner of NW 23rd and N. Meridian and enjoyed it. I tried it on NW 50th today. The sign out front said all you can eat buffet for $6.99. Sounded good. I was totally wrong! I had a friend with me and I recommended it. The $6.99 is misleading and obviously a ploy to get people inside. The chicken is grilled. Sounds good, right? The first couple bites were, until I got to the ones that were not done. I don’t know about you but reddish-pink chicken is not on my list of good foods to eat. The potatoes are very bland. The cabbage veggies are good but could use a bit more spice. We had baklava and both of us were extremely disappointed! Maybe it was made last week. We went dutch so when I got up there to pay I had a ten in one hand and a one in the other. I handed him the ten. He then asked me for the other dollar. In all fairness he did give me back a dime and a nickel. So I asked him for a receipt, which he could not give me. So I asked him to itemize it. $6.99 and $1.29 for a small drink and $1.69 for the baklava. Hmmmm, I could have gone to Outback or Golden Corral for $11.00 and had much better food and atmosphere.

    No, I definately advise AGAINST eating at El Pollo Chulo. It’s extremely overpriced for the undercooked chicken, sticky stale baklava, expensive fountain drinks and loud chaotic atmosphere.
    DON’T EAT THERE. Salmonella in the making.

  • Katie says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 3:49 pm   

    The only thing I would say -I have had a good food experience, but it’s very close to my work so I’ve been 3 times this summer (2009). No air-conditioning every time I’ve gone. I invited a friend the first time and was kind of embarrassed in the 102 degree weather. There are overhead ceiling fans, but we were hot and sweaty and it’s hard to enjoy the food.

  • SSSSSNAKES says:
    February 4th, 2010 at 9:34 pm   

    I discovered El Pollo Chulo in 1996 and have been going back ever since, following Fred from north side, to south side & back to north side. Never a bad experience.

  • Zaid says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 5:17 pm   

    I and my friends ate the today for the first time. Not impressed except for the price. Sides were very bland and chicken was the size of nuggets. It looked fantastic on the grill but was so-so on the plate.

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    June 11th, 2010 at 1:14 pm   

    Meh…. Was underwhelmed.

    Ordered a 1/2 chicken. Got something that I think at one time was a breast… Two legs and a thigh…. Last time I checked a half chicken had one leg and one wing.

    My tortillas were burnt on one side.

    On the plus side walking in and seeing all that chicken cooking over an open flame sure made me think I was about to have a great meal.

    I’ll stick with El Pollon or El Regio.

  • Jesikah Johnson says:
    July 21st, 2010 at 5:06 pm   

    Love it lots its so healthy cheap and good and fred is so nice and my brother introduced us to this place he goes lunch and dinner all tha time he always brings new people up there to try it and they always come back

  • Rick Cain says:
    October 28th, 2010 at 12:48 am   

    I’m Spanish, and I was unimpressed. The chicken was greasy and the sides were bland. This is NOT even close to Spanish food.

  • Kim W. says:
    December 1st, 2010 at 9:30 am   

    I commented in 2008 but I’m here again, and my husband and I still love El Pollo Chulo. Fred is a great owner who makes the customers feel welcomed. The food is delicious. Althought not technically Spanish, it does follow the trend of healthful food. This is my favorite chicken in OKC. I always try and get it into the “Best of” voting, but it hasn’t worked yet.

  • Tim says:
    December 1st, 2010 at 9:43 am   

    Kim W. I totally agree. This place deserves some recognition. It’s nothing fancy but consistently good and a pretty healthy alternative to so many other options. Very unique and a good value too.

    It had been a while since I’d been but the last two nights I visited El Pollo Chulo again. The free wifi and available power outlets made it a great place to get some work done. Tried one of the burritos for the first time and it was great. I like how he grills it in the tortilla which makes it crispy almost like a rolled-up quesadilla.

  • Tim says:
    December 1st, 2010 at 9:50 am   

    Rick, I’ve never found the chicken to be greasy, but I do agree that Spanish isn’t a great categorization. I’ve always found this one tough to categorize because it’s influenced by several cuisine types, I think. I’ve added it to Mediterranean and South American as well because it has those influences. I’m open to any thoughts on how to better categorize it if anyone wants to share.

  • Craig H. says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 3:26 pm   

    Just ate at El Pollo Chulo for the first time, used my OKC Deal Coupon, and will definitely be back, even w/o a coupon. My friend and i, both 6’3″ and close (or a little over 3 century’s, not old) and were both extremely pleased with the taste, freshness, quantity, and price of the food. Whatever the cuisine, Spanish, S. American, or Mediteranean, it was good.

  • AJ says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 6:47 pm   

    Went to El Pollo Chulo to use my OKC Deal Coupon on Sunday. Not a good experience. They were very nice. But, they were out of chicken. Ordered chicken breast dinner and steak dinner. The fries were cold. Only got one tortilla. Very disappointed. Probably won’t go back.

  • Eric Ramirez says:
    August 10th, 2011 at 10:11 pm   

    I had the unfortunate experience of eating here. They try to be El Pollo Loco but are seriously lacking. Chicken was sitting out cold on the portion of the grill that was not on. No one was in the restaurant, and the only other person that came in the entire time we were there was to talk to the only visible employee. Horrible chicken, horrible sides, I was appalled to see it on the “top 100″ and had to comment.

  • Hamid says:
    August 26th, 2011 at 4:49 pm   

    I eat at el pollo Chulo almost every day, the chicken tastes amazing delitious , burritos are the best in town. You need go try this place. Trust me, give it try.
    I has them to cater for 35 people , every body in car lot loved it. Now every week every body wants the same.

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