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With a restaurant name like “El Pollo Loco”, you wouldn’t be faulted for assuming that there weren’t any good vegan bites at this eatery. However, you’d be wrong!
Indeed, El Pollo Loco may mostly be well known for its spicy chicken meals and sides. That said, there are a couple of choices for vegans if El Pollo Loco is your only option or if a friend really wants to pick up some chicken wings for their lunch.
Today, let’s break down all the vegan friendly options available at El Pollo Loco so you know what to order the next time you stop by for some chow.
Main Items and Entrees for Vegans at El Pollo Loco
At El Pollo Loco, you’ll find a surprising range of entrée items for vegans. While these are not designed for vegans specifically, they can be made vegan friendly with a little bit of customization on your part. The vegan main menu options at El Pollo Loco include:
- The bean, rice, and cheese burrito. Just order this without cheese and you’re good to go!
- The double chicken burrito. Once more, specify that you don’t want cheese and swap out the chicken for avocado
- The fajita burrito. Swap out the chicken for avocado and be sure to specify no cheese or sour cream
- The “Pollo Bowl”. Exchange the chicken for avocado for no extra charge and you’ll make it 100% vegan
- The chicken black bean bowl. Once more, swap out the chicken for avocado and you are set
- The avocado bacon tostada salad. Just swap out the chicken and bacon for avocado and you’re good to go!
- The Beyond Meatless Chicken Options. As the name suggests, these options are vegan friendly variations on the above meals that they use Beyond Meat instead of regular meat. All you have to do is specify that you want your dish to be vegan when you order and they will remove any other dairy or animal products
There you have it – a surprising array of vegan friendly options at El Pollo Loco you can and should check out the next time you visit this restaurant. While none of these are vegan friendly by default, it’s still good to know that you can have some tasty meals without having to bootstrap your own lunch together by ordering several sides.
Because of all these options, El Pollo Loco actually offers more vegan meals than KFC: another chicken-themed fast-food restaurant.
Vegan Sides at El Pollo Loco
Speaking of sides, El Pollo Loco does offer some vegan friendly options if you want to complement one of the above meals or just want a quick snack. These vegan sides include:
- Pinto or black beans
- Corn or wheat tortillas
- Hard taco shells
- Mexican rice
- Corn or broccoli. Order these without butter to make them vegan
- Pico de gallo
- Homemade chips
- A citrus vinaigrette. You can add this to the salad or one of the tacos or burritos to add a little extra kick to your meal
El Pollo Loco also offers a hot sauce. However, the hot sauce brand can vary depending on where your local restaurant is located. You should double-check the ingredients for any hot sauce brand you find at El Pollo Loco or ask the staff whether it is vegan friendly before adding it to your meal.
El Pollo Loco Vegan Desserts
What if you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to go somewhere else? Bad news; El Pollo Loco doesn’t have any vegan friendly desserts at the time of this writing. They do have churros, but these are not vegan friendly.
That said, a few El Pollo Loco restaurants may have sliced apples on the kids’ menu. While this is not a traditional dessert, at least the apples are a little sweeter than the other options on their menu!
FAQs for El Pollo Loco’s Vegan Diners
No, sadly. The mashed potatoes at El Pollo Loco always contain dairy and they can’t be ordered without dairy products. Therefore, you should stay away from these if you are a vegan.
As far as we can tell, yes. There’s nothing to suggest that either of these items is made with dairy or animal products.
Yes, as it is with practically every other non-vegan restaurant. In other words, everything prepared at El Pollo Loco is made using shared cooking surfaces or tools. Therefore, there’s a chance that anything you order could have come into contact with animal products at some point (even if those products won’t technically be in your meal).
If this disqualifies a food as vegan in your eyes, you may wish to go somewhere else to eat.
Should You Try El Pollo Loco as a Vegan?
All in all, El Pollo Loco is surprisingly decent when it comes to vegan options. While it definitely isn’t the most vegan friendly eatery around, El Pollo Loco does allow you to eat a complete meal by ordering vegan foods and substituting meat products for avocado, vegetables, or other ingredients.
We also really like that El Pollo Loco offers Beyond Meat for its vegetarian and vegan customers. Because of this, you can get the authentic meat-flavor experience with several of El Pollo Loco’s dishes without cheating on your diet.
Want to know where else you can eat as a vegan, but don’t know what each restaurant’s menu has to offer? Check out our guides on various restaurant’s vegan friendly menu options here!