It’s pretty common knowledge that some of the best food comes out of little hole-in-the-wall places–downright dumps, if you will. That’s not to say every shotgun-shack serving grub will set your taste buds on fire. Nor does it mean that a nice restaurant can’t bring the flavor. It’s just one of those things–when you hear someone rave about the food at a given place, odds are you might have passed it by based on looks alone.
With this in mind, know that one of my favorite places in Phoenix is a little mustard and ketchup-colored building in South Phoenix on 7th Street just south of Southern dubbed Sergio El Pollo Feliz. I can’t really call it a dump, but it ain’t no Bellagio. From the looks of the place, it’s a mom-n-pop shop heavily invested in the DIY arts. What’s important to me is that the place appears to be clean and the food is GREAT!
The menu is comprised of chicken, chicken and more chicken. basically they serve 1/4, 1/2 or full chicken meals with all the Spanish trimmings. Basically you just need to figure out how much chicken you want and be prepared to order in Spanish. Don’t worry if you aren’t fluent in the language (I’m certainly not) and they staff will figure out what you want. Oh, and bring cash–no credit cards accepted here!
I always get a 1/2 chicken which nets me a breast, thigh, wing and leg–all char-grilled to perfection. That right there is the draw to this place, fresh, incredibly-tasty, marinated, mesquite-grilled pollo. Seriously, my mouth is watering as I write this and look at the picture.
You might have noted the grilled jalapeño in there–aaahhhh yeah. With your meal you will also get salsa, a salad (they were out when I shot these pics), Spanish rice, charo beans, corn tortillas and with any luck, they will have the chili oil. Oh, the tasty, tasty chili oil. That nectar in the squeeze bottle is made in-house and when they run out for the week, that’s it. In my humble opinion, that is what makes Sergio El Pollo special. Granted, the grilled chicken is good enough to stand on its own.
As I stated, Spanish is the house language of “the chicken joint” as I call it. So even though I asked, I was never able to figure out how they make my beloved chili oil. One time, however, the chef came out front when I asked the lady behind the counter what was in the oil. Realizing I didn’t understand them, he brought out the three ingredients to show me–whole garlic, dried red chili peppers and corn oil. That’s it! I guess you toast the peppers and garlic, chop them up, and put them in the corn oil which is then heated in a pot on the stove. I have yet to make successful batch, but I will keep trying until I get it right because this stuff is awesome!
So anyway, if you’re feeling adventurous, stop by Sergio El Pollo Feliz and get you some chicken. This place will convince even non-believers that hole-in-the-wall’s do in fact have the best food!