Pollo Azado all about the bird (and beans and rice, too)

QUICKREAD

WHAT: Pollo Azado.

WHERE: 304 North Ave.

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

COST: $5.99–$16.99.

CONTACT: 256-9400.



The options are chicken, rice and beans. Or, rice, beans and chicken.

Not a lot of choices await you at the newly opened Pollo Azado. Except, whether you want a quarter, half or whole bird, and what kind of pop you want to drink.

The simple menu and business model has worked well in Montrose for Shawna DeVinney and her husband, Juan Gonzales.

Known informally as a Mexican chicken shack, places like this have popped up all over the Southwest and beyond. Denver is dotted with a chain called Pollo Loco (crazy chicken). But Pollo Azado is homegrown in the Grand Valley.

Pollo asado, literally, means grilled chicken. In reality, it is a whole chicken marinated for hours and grilled over an open flame. It has a pinkish-reddish hue from the anchiote paste.

Order a plate at Pollo Azado and you’ll get a generous helping of chicken, Spanish rice and pinto beans topped with grilled scallions and jalapeño peppers.

I’ve eaten there twice and the chicken is appreciably better when it’s straight off the grill and not heated up later at home. The bird has an intoxicating aroma and the flavors of the marinade: garlic, onion, cumin, oregano and chiles. The so-so pintos are great with the addition of homemade salsa and pickled purple onions.

Sodas include the American varieties, Jarritos fruit sodas and Mexican Coca-Cola. Coke from Mexico is made from cane sugar, unlike American Coke, which is made with corn syrup. I don’t think I can speak to the difference, but I have friends who swear that the cane sugar Coke is superior.

The store-front restaurant has little ambience but already seems to be getting a steady flow of foot traffic from neighboring businesses. Most of the orders are takeout.

Pollo Azado serves a hearty, tasty and filling meal. Fast food without the deep-frying, and you don’t have to say “super-size it.”

CHILDREN AND NUTRITION: “Renegade Lunch Lady” Ann Cooper, will speak at the Wingate Garden Festival from 6–8 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Two Rivers Winery.

The chef and author is director of nutrition services for the Boulder Valley School District and founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation.

Cooper will explain how schools and communities can ensure their children have access to healthy food.

The event includes food, drinks and music by the Redlands Middle School Jazz Band. Tickets are $25 or $40 per couple. Proceeds will go to Wingate Garden, an organic edible garden started by parents for the benefit of Wingate Elementary School.

“We all need to take an active part in providing better food to our children and take responsibility for the state or their health,” said Wingate principal Carol Wethington in a press release.

Participants can win prizes: a vacation package, recreation passes, an e-reader and lunch at Chez Lena.

For information, call 523-7248.

CIVIL RIGHTS FOR POOCHES: The folks at Main Street Café want to remind all the dogs out there, and their human companions, that they are both welcome at the downtown establishment.

Although the Grand Junction City Council recently voted to restrict dogs from the American National Bank Downtown Farmers Market and other downtown festivals, the hounds are still allowed on regular days.

The café‘s patio is open for the season and canines are welcomed with a biscuit and a bowl of water.

True equal rights only will be achieved when dogs get a glass and a straw.

QUOTE: “The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: The chicken was ‘involved’ and the pig was ‘committed.’ ” — 1928 campaign slogan

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