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Eating 16th Street: Let's Begin at Pollo Sabroso

I'm here to eat!
I'm here to eat!
Graphic by Claire Lawton

See also: Calle 16: A Mural Project

Hey readers, get ready. We're putting new meaning into the term "street food." For Chow Bella's latest mission -- "Eating 16th Street" -- we've employed a young woman who's literally eaten her way around the world. Alex Rodriguez has eaten borscht in Moscow, steak in Buenos Aires and a "life-changing panna cotta" in Bra, a small town in the Piemonte region of Italy. As a contributor to our sister blog in Miami, Short Order, Rodriguez has covered it all, but has focused mainly on Latin food, particularly Cuban, though she's fond of Peruvian and Nicaraguan as well. So what better palate to set loose on Central Phoenix's 16th Street -- the storied, muraled stretch that's home to everything Latin from a James Beard winner to that candy store (a.k.a. dulceria) you've always wondered about. Rodriguez will try it all, from Jefferson Street north to Thomas Road -- and report back, place by place.

The Place: Pollo Sabroso The Food: Rotisserie and charcoal grilled chicken. The Back Story: The menu is a hybrid between Mexican and Colombian favorites. The Price: Two can eat plenty and walk out with a doggie bag for just over 12 bucks.

Sabroso, in Spanish, means tasty, or delicious. Pollo means chicken. Delicious chicken is what you'll find at Pollo Sabroso.

The eatery on the east corner of Jefferson and 16th street once housed El Pollo Correteado; Pollo Sabroso took its place in January.

See also: Pollo Sabroso Replaces El Pollo Correteado in Downtown Phoenix

Chicken is the name of this game.
Chicken is the name of this game.
Photo by Lauren Saria

The restaurant is awkwardly spacious with two dining rooms but unless you're the type of person to complain about too much elbow room, it won't be a bother.

You'll peruse the menu and immediately know what you want: chicken. There are a few other options, like ribs, and burgers, but why even bother? Stick to the restaurant's namesake if it's your first time.

We ordered a half chicken for $7.99. Now before we start with the tasty details, you'll have to note something the staff did out of courtesy: There were two of us and without being asked, they served our half chicken on two separate plates. Green flag! That was a pleasant surprise.

Half of our half chicken order.
Half of our half chicken order.
Photo by Lauren Saria

If you order a number 1, 2 or 3, your meal comes with your choice of two sides, two corn tortillas, and salsa. We opted for rice and beans. Pollo Sabroso's menu is a hybrid between Mexican and Colombian (or South American if you want to speak generally). Where you find jalapenos, Mexican rice, and refried pinto beans, you'll also find Colombian aji picante (think of it as a Colombian spicy pico de gallo), and fried yuca.

Make no mistake: The marriage of the two styles will romance your palate, so get ready.

The chicken was juicy and tender with a delicious rotisserie flavor. The Mexican rice, although slightly under cooked, had a great flavor -- think tomato and garlic. Mix your arroz y frijoles (rice and beans), take a bite of your pierna de pollo (chicken leg) and trust us, you'll be a happy camper. We ordered a side of fried yuca ($3.50) to seal the deal. It was hot, and it tasted fresh; a dip into the aji and you'll be doing that Italian thing with the hand and the lips and the kiss.

Fried yuca
Fried yuca
Photo by Lauren Saria

While the restaurant doesn't exactly have a wait staff (we went during lunchtime on a week day), we were visited at least twice to make sure everything was okay.

A mountain of food for a grand total of $12.55? We're not the greatest skilled in mathematics, but, that sounds like a banging great deal. Did we mention that Pollo Sabroso has a drive-thru? Yeah, a drive-thru. We know. That's awesome.

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