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El Pollo Inka Gardena [Video]

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Make Local Habit

Growing up in Los Angeles gives you an opportunity to experience food from many different cultures. One of the most cherish moments of my youth was visiting my friend who lived in Lawndale, CA, on 154th Street and Larch Ave. This period in my life was different than it is now, to the effect of that I was a foodie, then, but did not really know what a foodie was; I just ate for the sake of eating. There were many times when I would leave my friend’s house and stop at a small restaurant tucked away in the midst of a local strip mall.  The flame blazing in the display window is what first attracted me to this place. It is attractive and mystifying, El Pollo Inka Lawndale. Over the flame turned a rotisserie chicken seasoned with El Pollo Inka’s signature flavor profile.  The El Pollo Inka chain of restaurants really knows how to cook open-fire rotisserie chicken amongst other things like their Saltado de Pollo, my favorite dish.

El Pollo Inka Gardena

El Pollo Inka has four locations in California: Lawndale, Torrance, Hermosa Beach and Gardena and one in Miami, FL.  Additionally there is an express location, duly named, Pollo Inka Express in Hawthorne, CA and another restaurant named Inka Wasi in Rolling Hills Estates, CA.  This local chain has really expanded its reach to serve the community of Peruvians [and others] in the United States.

The Gardena location is special in its own unique way.  In my opinion, the experience you have here bonds you to the restaurant.  It is not just a place to have a great lunch or dinner meeting with friends, but you can enjoy yourself on the weekend, as well.  Whether you are interested in watching others learn Salsa dancing or you’d like to get out on the dance floor and display your own talents; you can freely and excitedly do so here.

On 31 May 2013, a group of The Tom Leykis Show P1 Listeners gathered at El Pollo Inka Gardena to celebrate Foco Liz’s Birthday. This video is from that event, where I was present and decided to recorded some amazing dancing! If you are looking for a good time on a Friday or Saturday night, El Pollo Inka Gardena is the place to go!

 

Food

“Saltado de Pollo with Cilantro Rice and the fries extra crispy, please,” I request.  It is important to me that the fries are cooked to a crisp; I believe it blends better with the rest of the meal; it gives your pleasure sensors a roller-coaster ride of adventure.  The different textures, spices and sweetness gives your mouth an unbelievable foodgasm; leaving you intrigued, baffled and yearning for more.  The flavor and taste combination changes with every forkful, but if you’re lucky enough to get everything together in one scoop, you will be overloaded with crunchy French fries, moist and savory bites of chicken, a juicy tomato burst, sweet onions, chewable grains of seasoned rice and a kick in the head from the green sauce that I can only describe as some type of Peruvian horseradish.

I don’t always get the Saltado de Pollo; sometimes I feel carnivorous and will order the famed Pollo a la Brasas, whole, of course.  This chicken is prepared over an open flame which is showcased at the front of the restaurant, near the entrance.  I am not sure what seasonings they use, but it gives the meat a great taste.  The mildly charred and crispy skin leads on to moist, fully cooked bites of chicken.  Whether you like dark meat or white meat, it all prepared well and retains a juicy flavor throughout.  I hate dry and overly cooked chicken; I believe El Pollo Inka does as well, because I’ve never had a bad Pollo a la Brasas prepared by them.

Ambiance/Setting

El Pollo Inka Gardena is a fun place to be.  There are things to do there; you can dance, you can entertain guest, you can drink, you can watch sports and much more.  You can truly have a good time and eat exceptional and well prepared food.  The environment is good for a family dinner with the wife and kids, a first date with a new interest, a business meeting, a quick stop-in on your lunch break, a girls’ happy hour get-together and more.  I believe they have karaoke sometimes, or regularly.  It is one of the most versatile restaurants I have been to in Los Angeles.

During the lunch hour, in my experience, it can be peaceful and calming.  Around supper time and early evening on a Friday night is a different story, however, music is playing, people are dancing and everyone is having a good time.  El Pollo Inka Gardena is not only a place to have a good meal, but a versatile venue suitable for any occasion.

Overall

I grew up with the Lawndale location and it will always be my El Pollo Inka home, however, Gardena has found a space in my life and heart.  I enjoy visiting.  Recently I have attended two events which were held there, one was a birthday party and the other was a gathering of internet friends who hadn’t met in person yet.  Both events were phenomenal, as is, El Pollo Inka Gardena.

Whether you are trying El Pollo Inka for the first time or you are a regular, one important thing to remember is to support your favorite local small business.  El Pollo Inka has been around since 1987; that is 26 years of established history spread over seven restaurants.  Give it a try and remember to always Make Local Habit by patronizing your local small businesses.  That is the only way they’ll know you appreciate them.

 

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Complimentary all-you-can-eat Cilantro Chicken & Rice Soup. This soup is served with every menu item, along with a basket of rolls. It is amazing, but make sure that you do not fill up on it. I usually have at least 3 servings.
Saltado de Pollo
A closer and more personal view of the Saltado de Pollo at El Pollo Inka Gardena
Pollo a la Brasas
Pollo a la Brasas – The season is amazing, the skin is crispy without being dry and the chicken meat on every area is moist and delicious.
On Tequila
ON Tequila – There is no other tequila on the planet as smooth as this.
Peruvian Bread Pudding
Peruvian Bread Pudding – Some say it has too many raisins, I love it. It’s moist, sweet and tangy.
Alfajores
Alfajores is a Peruvian shortbread cookie filled with Manjar Blanco (Dulce de Leche) covered with Powdered Sugar. Be warned, this is very good, but very dry. I would eat it with milk.
Alfajores
Another shot of the Alfajores
Pisco, Peruvian White Brandy
On a visit the restaurant gave me a bottle of Pisco. This is imported Peruvian White Brandy. You can mix it with just about any juice and it’s very good.
Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
Chica Morada
This is called Chica Morada, it is basically Purple Corn Juice. It is very good and moderately sweet. I love it and it helps bring Peru a little closer to home.

 

We would like to say Thank you

El Pollo Inka Gardena has been generous enough to extend an offer to those who read and support my blog.

As a way of saying thank you for reading, El Pollo Inka Gardena and I, would like to offer you a coupon for 20% off your bill at El Pollo Inka Gardena.  This offer is valid from 14 September 2013 through 31 October 2013.

To redeem offer, please LIKE the Cue the Critic Facebook Fanpage and Click here to Print Coupon. This offer is only valid at:

El Pollo Inka Gardena
1425 West Artesia Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 516-7378
Hours: Sun – Weds: 11:00a.m. – 11:00p.m., Thurs – Fri: 11:00a.m. – Midnight
El Pollo Inka on Urbanspoon
El Pollo Inka on Foodio54

  • Amber

    Love the soup and the Saltado de pollo! Thanks for posting such a thorough description of everything, I think I’ll have some for dinner tonight.

    • http://cuethecritic.com/ cue

      That is very awesome. Removing the meat from food would normally be sacrilege, but I am more excited and happy that you were able to find a way to enjoy food without compromising the quality or your personal taste. Very, very nice.