My environmentally conscious friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver doesn’t have a large carbon footprint. No environmental activist would ever condemn him for fouling the air and water with a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, Sr. Plata leaves large “carbon fingerprints,” the finger-licking kind you get from frequenting restaurants which specialize in pollo al carbon, chicken prepared over charcoal.
Pollo al carbon has spoiled Sr. Plata. He craves those juicy, golden-skinned birds speckled with black char, chicken so meaty and delicious it makes store-bought rotisserie chickens look positively anorexic in comparison. Who can blame Sr. Plata? Pollo al carbon is absolutely addictive. It’s truly finger-licking good, much better (by legions) than you’ll find at the Colonel’s place.
Fortunately the Duke City has several outstanding purveyors of pollo al carbon. Sr. Plata’s current favorite is El Pollo Real Colombiano, but when it comes to great chicken, he’s hardly monogamous. When the cleverly sobriqueted O-U-8-1-2 responded to Sr. Plata’s plea for more pollo places to try, we knew we’d have to visit El Chicken, a food truck stationed on the southwest corner of San Pedro and Central. You can tell you’re getting close by the mouth-watering aroma emanating from the large yellow truck. The fragrant bouquet is a precursor of the flavors soon to come.
Why does El Chicken’s poultry taste so good? You can read why on the El Chicken food truck itself: “We start with whole, fresh chickens. We marinate them in our exclusive juices, herbs and spices. Then our grill masters slow roast them on Mexican mesquite charcoal (carbon). Our chickens take more time and cost more than others, but you will taste the difference.” The wait for your order to be fulfilled will take no more than five minutes, but in the immortal paraphrased words of Carly Simon, anticipation will keep you waiting.
A sole picnic table makes up the entire dining area around the food truck, but if you head west on Central then north on Valencia, you’ll find a very nice park where you can eat on shaded picnic tables. Pollo al carbon makes for an excellent picnic lunch. A whole chicken will feed two people with regular appetites or one Sr. Plata who makes quick work of his favorite dish.
The pollo al carbon is terrific with its enticing aroma wafting invitingly toward you. That aroma is imprinted on your hands as you pick up each moist, delicious piece. The marinade isn’t as prominent as the citrus marinade used at the aforementioned Pollo Real Colombiano and the chicken is only lightly salted, but that charcoal flavor certainly comes across. Perhaps that’s the point. Every piece of the chicken is succulent and replete with charcoal-infused flavor.
A whole chicken order includes two incendiary salsas–a light green guacamole-based salsa and an even more fiery red salsa. They’re both rather strong and will dominate the flavor of the pollo so apply them judiciously. Better yet, create a sandwich from the accompanying sweet grilled onions and corn tortillas. The whole chicken also includes some of the very best beans in New Mexico. Seriously! The beans are infused with a smoky flavor and chunks of pork. The rice is moist and buttery.
El Chicken is one of Albuquerque’s most unique and delicious options for increasing your own carbon fingerprints. The pollo al carbon should come with a warning that you might not want to wash your hands after they’ve been handling the charcoal flavor imprinted chicken.
6200 Central Avenue, S.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 24 May 2013
# OF VISITS: 1
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Whole Chicken, Beans, Rice, Salsa