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Healthy & Homemade Fast Food-Grilled Chicken and...

Making the yearly haul to Florida with the kids? Maybe a trip to Disney World or another theme attraction in Orlando or a visit with your (hold your breath) inlaws in South Florida?  Whatever the reason, if you haven't tried Pollo Tropical, you and your kids are going to love it and save a bundle.  "Pollo" which means "chicken" in Spanish, is famous for its marinated, flame grilled, succulent chicken. This restaurant chain, which started in Miami in 1988, is now a South Florida icon. While the grilled chicken is their signature product, the Caribbean homemade menu includes black beans, caesar salad, Caribbean chicken soup, boiled or fried yucca a type of potato (pronounced "you-ca" not "yucka".) to name a few.  The entire menu is made from scratch each day but served at fast food pace (well almost; the menu has expanded so the wait is just a couple minutes longer than your McDonald's or Burger King). But it's a relatively healthy menu (entire menu is trans fat FREE, the chickens are fresh and hormone free) and the value is incredible.  A quarter chicken, rice and beans and a roll is just $3.30.   Their Family Feast is priced around $20.00. What restaurant, fast-food or sit-down can you feed a family of 4-5 for under $30? Kids just love the chicken legs and the yellow rice comes with little bits of vegetables. Great way to get kids to eat veggies. With the year-round warm weather, cool off with a TropiChiller-an all natural fruit smoothie in strawberry or mango or pina colada (non alcoholic of course).   Just a couple of tips when visiting. First, have patience with order takers who sometimes have a heavy accent. Most cashiers are bilingual (English or Spanish or English and Creole) to cater to diversified customers.  Also their "Combo Mambo" is not like traditional combo meals at fast food joints. Here "Combo" means you get a choice of two sides, and drinks are extra.  Regardless, the value is exceptional and the family eats heartily.Pollo Tropical rarely advertises so tourists and locals learn about it word of mouth or chicken to mouth-the company often participates at local festivals and gives away free meal certificates. When visiting the restaurant, the family enjoys a tropical theme complete with reggae, calypso music, Key Westie pastel colors and a self-serve salsa bar. Each member of the family can drizzle their favorite sauce -Jamican curry mustard, non-spicy red salsa, chimichurri, and mojo sauce -on their meal to romance the chicken, steak or shrimp flavors. Visit their website  for a location closest to your destination. Pollo Tropical stretches from Homestead, to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and a jump to Orlando.  Recently the company spread its wings and opened locations in Tampa, and also two in New Jersey. Salud!

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