Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Ate At Pollo Campero

The guard at Pollo Campero
Yes, I finally did it. I ate at the infamous fast food chain, Pollo Campero, here in Panajachel, Guatemala. And it was bad. I was hoping for face-melting, tongue-tingling, high-five-inducing awesomeness but instead got cold, limp, unsalted fries, a 7-Up that I think the counter guy tasted first, and a slightly above average chicken sandwich.

To start off, I screwed up the ordering process. How can you screw up fast food? Well, let me tell ya. Pollo Campero is fancy! Only I assumed it was like Burger King or McDonald's and acted as such.

I walked in, as the guard held the door open for me, and -- wait, what? Yes, there is a guard inside the door of Pollo Campero. I snuck his picture.  :)

Anyway, I walked in and went to the counter to order. I noticed a sign near the cash that said "Para Llevar", meaning "To Go". I shrugged it off and stared up at the menu board. The guy behind the counter was counting change in his till and ignored me. I felt a bit lost.

Then a lovely young woman came up and said, "Would you like me to help you order?" I was stunned and blurted out, "Why? Is it hard?" I didn't mean to be rude but I think she was a bit taken aback! Still, she persevered and helped me decipher the menu, which seemed to me to have no combo numbers or even names of the food. I told her I wanted a chicken sandwich and she pointed out the options. Then she said, "Do you want a menu?" I was more stunned. Isn't the menu up there? I stammered, "No, I just want a sandwich and fries and drink." She told the man what I wanted and I thanked her before she walked back to her friends. So nice! Thanks, random stranger!  :)

The counter dude was totally slow and took forever to punch in my simple order. When he returned my change, he proudly said, "sixty-two" in English. I smiled and took my receipt and then went to sit with Bert at a booth to wait for the food. On the way across the restaurant, I grabbed a menu from where the nice woman had pointed and give it to Bert to peruse.
Inside Pollo Campero in Panajachel, Guatemala.
That's when I started figuring out that I had done everything wrong. There was a waitress in orange circling the tables, presumably to take people's orders, although there was only one other customer sitting down. She asked us if we wanted anything else when she saw Bert reading the menu, but he declined. (He wasn't hungry.) People were coming in to order at the counter, but then sitting on the bench near the front window to take their food out. So I guess we were supposed to sit first? Or wait for the waitress to seat us? Maybe it's like the newer Swiss Chalet restaurants back home where you have a choice to either sit down or take out? Who knows? (Guatemalans know, actually. Ha!)

We waited for my food while I snapped pictures, totally feeling like a dorky tourist. I noticed an employee behind the counter looking around a bit lost, and then the waitress waved him towards us. I jumped up and went up to collect my food, that was in a takeout bag of course! :)

I decided to sit in to eat, even though I felt dumb to take my takeout bag to a table. (All this while, Bert is very patiently tolerating my blunders and babbling embarrassment.)
Here is a photo of my thrilling meal.
Extra Crispy Chicken sandwich combo from Pollo Campero.
For Q38, or about $6.62 Canadian, I got that. Blah. Like I said above, cold shoestring fries, normal 7-Up, and an okay sandwich that didn't seem all the extra crispy to me. Not impressed. Honestly, I've had amazing chicken and fries for half the price from a street vendor! Why do Guatemalans and other Latin Americans go crazy for this place? I truly don't know. Maybe I just picked the wrong menu item? I might be willing to give it another try but thinking about it now, why would I? It was nothing special and it was overpriced. Oh well! At least I tried it. My curiosity is satiated, even if my desire for an awesome chicken sandwich isn't.

1 comment :

  1. Pollo Campero is not good, I would say that they have gotten worse over the years. Overpriced for substandard food. People in Latin America buy in to the advertising, just like we do in the north with our fast food places. I have found some of the best basic food in the comedors. Nothing fancy, just good food.