Setting the Table
Dance music, loud and thrumming, pours through the open door between SoHo University and Pollo Loco, a new casual Mexican restaurant off S.C. 544 near Coastal Carolina University.
Pollo Loco (not to be confused with the national chain called EL Pollo Loco) has the same owner as SoHo University, but the flavors are all its own. The setup is like Chipotle or Salsarita’s or Farlo’s Burrito Bar, where you can get your burrito/taco/chimichanga customized from a buffet with many tasty choices.
No seating is available inside the restaurant, but picnic tables are outside on the sidewalk and there is plenty of seating at SoHo University, where CCU students can enjoy the pollo between knocking back rounds of happy hour specials.
Down the Hatch
The chicken is delicious – it’s marinated, grilled, moist and flavorful. A three-piece meal with two side dishes is $6, and that’s what I ordered and paid for. However, when I got home and opened the bag they had given me only two pieces of chicken, so you might want to keep an eye on that.
The two-piece chicken meal is $5, half of a chicken with two large sides is $9, and a whole chicken with two sides is $15.
Our favorite dish was a burrito ($8-$8.50). You can choose veggies, chicken, steak, barbacoa (spicy Mexican barbecue) or carnitas (slow-cooked pork) as the primary filling, then select what other goodies you want in there. The fellow at the cash register was a friendly young Mexican native named Victor, and I asked him to make the burrito how he likes it.
The result was delicious. Victor filled the fresh flour tortilla up with chicken, lettuce, rice, beans, sour cream and a streak through the middle of Pollo Loco’s blood-red and super-spicy house sauce. It was delicious, and after splitting the burrito my husband and I were both full and happy, although the Mr. had to cool the fire with a little ice cream.
So I was too full to try our three-taco plate ($10, comes with rice and beans) until the next day, and they warmed up beautifully (we had soft tacos, not crunchy) in the microwave. One was filled with veggies (sliced carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers and onions), one with barbacoa and one with carnitas, and each was tasty.
Pollo Loco also has starters ($5-$8) such as stuffed jalapenos, house-made guacamole and refried bean dip. You can get a tortilla salad for $6, chicken tortilla soup for $4, enchiladas and quesadillas ($6-$8.50), and a three taquitos meal for $9.
Torte de asada ($8) is Mexican bread filled with steak, beans, cheese and veggies, and crispy chimichangas are $9-$9.50.
It’s not on the menu, but Victor recommended trying the tamales. We got three corn tamales for $5, and they were a bit dry with a cake-like consistency instead of a moist polenta texture. We’ll stick with the fantastic burritos and tacos next time.
All meals can be made vegetarian with black beans, and vegetarians should note that the pinto beans contain meat. There are also Mexicali specials including two seared tuna tacos for $7 or a spicy shrimp burrito for $8.
Children have three choices for $3.50-$4.25: mini versions of a taco, quesadilla or burrito, and they come with sides and a small drink.
Becky Billingsley serves up fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.