I had planned to try the restaurant next door, which turned out to be closed. But when I saw that Pollo Campeon also had salteñas on the menu, I knew it was fate.
The word “Pollo” in a restaurant’s name implies Peruvian pollo a la brasa. And yes, the Sterling restaurant has that, as well as lomo saltado. But Peru is only one stop on a menu that also includes a glut of Salvadoran and Bolivian specialties.
OK, a pan-Latin restaurant isn’t big news in our region. In the very same shopping center, there’s the excellent Pollos Inti. But from the exceptionally friendly service to the quality and size of the plates, Pollo Campeon is a standout.
At $3.50 apiece, it’s easy to make a meal just out of a pair of salteñas. On a busy Sunday, there were only beef ones remaining, but that was more than satisfactory. The stew-filled pies are a little less sweet than they tend to be at other purveyors and are filled with toothsome beef, soft egg, and potato. They come with a red llajua (hot sauce) that’s different than the green one I’ve usually had with salteñas, and it’s the hottest yet.
The basics are also prepared practically to perfection. Carne asada is tender and deeply marinated. It’s buried in soft, charred onions and complemented by a single grilled jalapeño, avocado-filled salad, and fluffy rice. Even better? The herb-and-breadcrumb-crusted chicken milanesa. The thinly pounded poultry requires no knife to cut through it, and the soft-centered eggs on top provide their own sauce. Even the Salvadoran tortillas that come on the side of the meals are extra pillowy
My only regret is not taking advantage of the pile of alfajores at the counter. But when I’m craving salteñas in Loudoun County, I’ll have ample opportunity to sample the sweets, too. // 46950 Community Plaza #C 122, Sterling
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