El Pollo Dorado al Carbon
W. 21st N. and N. Wellington Pl.
Wichita, KS 67203
If you drive down W. 21st St in Wichita in the late afternoon, chances are that by the time you approach the 200 block you will notice that the air takes on the delicious scent of mesquite smoke and grilled meat. This delightful aroma emanates from a bright yellow food truck, El Pollo Dorado al Carbon (or more accurately the large charcoal grill next to the truck) that can often be found on the north-east corner of W 21st and Wellington.
This truck does one thing–charcoal-grilled chicken–and it does it very well. Out of the small window of the vehicle pieces of chicken, golden/orange from marinating in achiote paste and other herbs and spices, magically appear with a small selection of salsas, ranchero beans, and freshly cooked corn tortilla. The chicken–lightly-spiced and scented with mesquite smoke–is succulent, tender, unctuous, unbelievably flavorful, and grilled to perfection.
The accompaniments are just as delicious. The ranchero beans are flavored with the traditional bean-herb epazote that for some can be an acquired taste, but they are plentiful and served piping hot. The corn tortillas are soft, hot and delicious; the light perfume created by the nixtamalization process is the perfect compliment to the aroma of the grilled chicken. On the night my wife and I visited El Pollo Dorado, we were served three salsas: a garlicky salsa de arbol that would have turned cardboard into a gourmet meal (and have driven-off vampires for at least a two-block radius), a light guacamole laced with habanero peppers and lime juice, and a thin and deceptively spicy, habanero-spiked citrus salsa that I would buy by the tub if it were commercially available.
Like most food trucks in the area, cash is the only form of payment. Half a bird with sides was $8.95 + tax while a whole bird with sides runs $13.95 + tax. It is worth every penny… .