As you can guess by its name, El Pollo Loco – which means “crazy chicken” in English, isn’t quite a vegan-friendly place. The Mexican-styled restaurant chain was founded in Mexico in 1974. Now, there are more than 500 locations all around the United States. So, back to the menu. While plenty of opportunities exist to make some Mexican vegan dishes, El Pollo Loco is still falling behind. Let’s see if there is anything plant-based at all.
What is vegan at El Pollo Loco?
The restaurant chain is basically specialized in Mexican-styled grilled chicken, so we didn’t expect much when we visited the nearby Loco. However, El Pollo Loco still surprised us, since with one exception – and sides -, everything contained chopped grilled chicken. Disappointing.
If you exclude the chicken breast, the shredded cheese, and the sour cream you still get a decent meal with fried tostada, pinto beans, salsa sauce, and fresh lettuce. Furthermore, you can add some extras from the list above.
Everything except BBQ burritos contains chicken, however, some of them could be a fine option without animal ingredients.
- Original BRC Burrito: Exclude cheese. Then you will get Pinto beans and rice wrapped in a wheat tortilla. Not much to be honest.
- Chicken Avocado Burrito: Exclude chicken breast, and shredded cheese and substitute the creamy cilantro sauce with something else. What left? Avocado slices, cilantro, pinto beans, cabbage, and salsa sauce in a wheat tortilla. Pretty good, isn’t it?
The other burritos are almost the same, just the chicken is different in them.
All of them have to contain chicken of course. However, It is still a decent option without it.
Original Pollo Bowl
If you exclude the chopped chicken you will get a large bowl of rice, Pinto Beans, dices onions topped with salsa sauce, and cilantro.
Grande Avocado Chicken Bowl
You have to exclude Jack Cheese and sour cream on top of the chicken, in exchange you will get additional corn, avocado slices, and cabbage. Fair deal.
I wouldn’t suggest the taco, since if you remove the animal ingredients you will get an almost empty taco shell. If you really want to eat tacos there, you can ask the staff to fill it with vegan sides and extras, but it doesn’t worth it.
- Rice: At least it isn’t fried in butter.
- Pinto Beans: Decent protein source.
- Corn: This could be a nice addition to any item above.
- Broccoli: It comes without butter If you want something healthy.
- Loco side salad: if you exclude the cheese and the creamy sauce there is nothing much left, but still an option.
Unfortunately, that’s all. Coleslaw contains dairy and the mashed potato comes with gravy.
- Chips & Guacamole: Pretty decent appetizer.
- Tortilla chips
- Corn tortillas
- Flour tortillas
- Jalapeno Hot sauce
- Pico de Gallo Salsa
- House Salsa
That’s all for sure. You may be wondering since Churros isn’t on the list. Well, unfortunately, Cinnamon Churros – the only one there – contains dairy, so they cannot be made vegan-friendly. How sad.
Nothing special, just the basic Coca-cola products, some fresh brewed iced tea, and house-made lemonades. All of them are certainly vegan.
Vegan Chickenless Pollo Loco
In 2021, Pollo Loco launched two totally plant-based menu items as a test: Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco and Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito. However, it disappeared in 2022, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be back anytime soon. How sad.