El Pollo Loco
Ken Wolter/Dreamstime.com

8 Things You Didn't Know About El Pollo Loco Gallery

By
There are some crazy facts about “the crazy chicken”
El Pollo Loco
Ken Wolter/Dreamstime.com

El Pollo Loco

8 Things You Didn't Know About El Pollo Loco

8 Things You Didn't Know About El Pollo Loco
Ken Wolter/Dreamstime.com

There’s something magical about El Pollo Loco. Unless you live on the West Coast, you may not have heard of this regional fast food chicken chain, but it’s truly something special (and delicious). Their chicken is marinated in a unique blend of garlic, citrus, and spices that’s virtually impossible to replicate at home, but fans of this restaurant already know that. But there’s a lot that even they don’t know about “the crazy chicken.”

It Originated in Mexico

It Originated in Mexico
iStock

While El Pollo Loco is now technically a U.S. chain, it has its roots in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico. That’s where founder Juan Francisco Ochoa opened the first location in 1975. Within four years it had expanded throughout northern Mexico, and the first U.S. location opened the following year.

It Was Once Owned by Denny’s

It Was Once Owned by Denny’s
Erik Lattwein/Dreamstime.com

All of the American locations were acquired in 1983 by none other than Denny’s, which allowed the Ochoa family to retain ownership of all of the Mexican locations. Denny’s sold the company in 1999. It is now a publicly-traded company under the name El Pollo Loco, Inc.

It’s Actually Two Independently-Run Chains

It’s Actually Two Independently-Run Chains

Jim J./Yelp

When Juan Francisco Ochoa sold his company to Denny’s in the ‘80s, it came with the agreement that his family could still own the franchise in Mexico. To this day, the Ochoa family still runs the locations across Mexico privately. They still specialize in selling marinated grilled chicken, just south of the border.

It Once Held the Guinness Record for World’s Largest Burrito

It Once Held the Guinness Record for World’s Largest Burrito

El Pollo Loco/Yelp

In 1995, the company made it into the record books by rolling up the world’s largest burrito; it was 3,112 feet long and weighed two tons. Unfortunately, the record didn’t stand. The current record holder is Canirac La Paz in Baja California, which built a 12,786-pound, mile-and-a-half-long burrito in November 2010 — all with a single flour tortilla.

It's Very Charitable

It's Very Charitable
istockphoto.com

The company has created two charitable organizations: Fire-Grilled Fundraisers, an initiative for nonprofits to hold fundraisers at El Pollo Loco locations and El Pollo Loco Charities, which provides more than 10,000 meals every year to underprivileged families. They also support causes such as literacy, bilingual education, and shelters for women and children.

They Use Only Fresh Chicken

They Use Only Fresh Chicken

El Pollo Loco/Yelp

El Pollo Loco is insistent upon using only fresh ingredients, and that includes their signature chicken. Each day, the average El Pollo Loco restaurant goes through 147 full chickens every day, and they’re never frozen. Other items on their menu, including the cilantro, avocados, tomatoes, and hot peppers, are also 100 percent fresh.

There’s a Secret Menu, of Course

There’s a Secret Menu, of Course

El Pollo Loco/Yelp

What would a chain restaurant be without a few hacks and secret menu items? If you’re low-carb or just not a huge fan of tortillas, you can easily order El Pollo Loco’s burritos, chicken tortilla soup, and bowls without the carbs. Just say you want it “carb-free.” If you also want to hack your way to a healthier fast food meal, you can order your chicken without the skin.

Unlike Taco Bell, It Has Succeeded in Mexico

Unlike Taco Bell, It Has Succeeded in Mexico
Dreamstime

Perhaps because it originated in Mexico, El Pollo Loco has succeeded where other Mexican food chains have failed. The Ochoa -owned El Pollo Loco chain in Mexico has over 50 locations across the country. Meanwhile, in America, attempts to bring El Pollo Loco to Atlanta, Boston, and Portland have failed. But that just makes it one of the many regional chains we wish were national

More From The Daily Meal:

Our 25 Best Grilled Chicken Recipes

The Best Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Secrets Your Favorite Fast Food Chains Don't Want You to Know

The 50 Best Burritos in America

10 Things You Didn’t Know About In-N-Out