$13 at Pollo Riko on Fondren

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: Pollo Riko, 7229 Fondren, 713-271-4321

What $13 gets you: Enough food to feed a family, and then some.

One visit to Pollo Riko and you’ll never buy another dried-out bird from the grocery. Here, the chicken skin is crisp and the meat is moist, if a little salty. By itself, a whole roast chicken is $8.29; a half goes for $5.09.

My family prefers the whole roast chicken combo for $10.89, which includes a stack of warm corn tortillas and a choice of two sides, including red beans and rice, roasted red potatoes, fries, corn on the cob, fried yucca, Cole slaw and a Caesar salad. Add a large Dr. Pepper for $.93 and – poof! – supper is served.

Recommended? For takeout, yes.

From the outside, Pollo Riko ain’t much to look at – jail bars cover the windows and doors. From the inside, it’s just as bad – mostly bare walls, buzzing fluorescent lights, no music. The only noise comes from the large rotisserie set directly behind the counter where workers shovel burning coals and 30 whole chickens – six to a spit – spin round and round.

It took almost two years before I finally decided to try the place, which sits just off the Southwest Freeway at the Fondren exit in my rough-and-tumble Sharpstown neighborhood. Now I’m addicted.

Bonus point: Two other Houston locations at 14443 Bellaire and 5532 Airline. - Todd Spivak

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