El Pollo Loco & Lazy Dog Pizzeria helps the Humane Society 

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If you’re hungry and heading south, my advice would be to bypass the Mayan Adventure and continue down to Lehi. There, you’ll find the first Utah location of the popular franchise El Pollo Loco (The Crazy Chicken). The business dates back to 1975, when the first El Pollo Loco opened in Guasave, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, as a roadside chicken stand. Today, there are close to 400 El Pollo Locos in the United States; the most recent just opened on West Telegraph in Washington, Utah, and the next is slated for St. George.

I’m not a big fan of fast food. But El Pollo Loco is somewhat of an anomaly: Fast food that’s fresher than you’d expect, relatively cheap and, most important, tasty. They specialize in fresh chicken marinated in El Pollo Loco’s well-guarded recipe of spices, herbs and citrus juices, then flame-grilled, hand-cut and served with warm tortillas, hot from the grill. The result is a simple, satisfying meal of surprising high quality and flavor. The side dishes at El Pollo Loco are also respectable: pinto beans, barbecue black beans, corn on the cob, chips and guacamole, refried beans and mac & cheese are all good. Along with their signature flame-grilled chicken, El Pollo Loco also features tacos, quesadillas, burritos, salads and soups. The chicken tortilla soup is pretty good, and I really like the chicken Caesar salad, even though it’s not exactly a “classic” Caesar (it’s served with tortilla chips, salsa and cotija cheese). There’s also a salsa bar with an array of freshly made salsas, and yummy caramel flan to finish off your El Pollo Loco meal. 88 N. State, Lehi, 801-766-1004, and 725 W. Telegraph, Washington, 435-627-8354, ElPolloLoco.com.

Last minute reminder: Lazy Dog Pizzeria is hosting a benefit dinner for the Humane Society of Utah on Oct. 3, starting at 5 p.m. All proceeds will go directly to the Humane Society. Phone 359-5364 or visit online at LazyDogPizzeria.com.

Quote of the week: We didn’t starve, but we didn’t eat chicken unless we were sick, or the chicken was. —Bernard Malamud

Send Food Matters info to teds@xmission.com.

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