Don Pollo, Bethesda, MD

Don Pollo is nominally in Chevy Chase, but I can’t see anything north of Bradley being anything but Bethesda, borders be damned.

If you’re heading north on Wisconsin from the District, you can sometimes get lucky and snare street parking here. I was thinking of Stromboli (where I haven’t been in almost twenty years!), but since their strombolis are cooked to order, I opted for emergency quickness, and ducked into Don Pollo.

If you’re going to get 1/4 chicken, I highly recommend the 1/4 Dark with 2 Sides ($5.75) over the white meat. For some people, floppy (or, in this case, semi-crispy) skin is a deal breaker for pollo a la brasa, but I can live with it if the flavors are there, and indeed they were, at least in the meat itself. The marinade is curious, and I suspect they use some type of sweet citrus as a component, perhaps even orange juice although that’s pure speculation.

My sides were fried yuca (a good call, as it almost always is), and fried plantains which – sigh, for the second day in a row – tasted of oil that was either too old or needed to be changed. (I should add that I’m hypersensitive to this scent, and perhaps most people wouldn’t even notice). Still, the plantains really soak this up, and as good (and plentiful (and hot!)) as they were, I just didn’t want to finish them.

The two default sauces were the pink and the green. For $5.75, it was an ample and satisfying lunch after a strenuous morning of Christmas Eve shopping.

Don Pollo also has branches in the Viers Mill area of Rockville, and the Langley Park side of Hyattsville. A whole chicken, solo, is only $9.99.

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