Popular Pollo Tropical Menu Items, Ranked Worst To Best

There are so many fast casual and fast food chicken chains that it's now difficult to make a decision about where you want to eat when you're craving that kind of food. KFC is always an option, as is Popeyes. But if you just happen to live in Florida, you know that there's a better, more exciting chain restaurant to try out: Pollo Tropical. Pollo Tropical got its start in Miami, and now it's all over the Sunshine State. It specializes in Latin American-inspired cuisine, so it's something that's still fairly different compared to most other fast food spots out there.

And the best part? There are actually quite a few healthy items on the menu. That's because instead of focusing on fried chicken like many joints, Pollo Tropical is all about the fire-grilled chicken (though you can get fried chicken as well if you're still really craving it).

However, once you take a look at the Pollo Tropical menu, you'll realize that there's quite a lot to choose from. So, how exactly are you supposed to choose the best dish from amongst all those menu items? Well, that's why we're here. We've ranked some of the most popular Pollo Tropical menu items from worst to best so you know what to order and what to avoid completely. Let's take a closer look at those side dishes and meals so you can decide what you want to get the next time you're there.

20. Pollo Trio with Crispy Chicken Platter

When you first go to Pollo Tropical, you may be tempted to try as many types of chicken as possible. That's what it's all about there, right? It's in the name, after all. However, you're not going to want to do it with the Pollo Trio with Crispy Chicken platter. That's because when you order this platter, you're going to get so, so much chicken — and not much else. And all that meat together with nothing to break it up starts to taste pretty boring after a while.

The Pollo Trio with Crispy Chicken comes with half of a crispy chicken breast (probably our least favorite cut), a quarter of a bone-in chicken (that's a lot of food on its own!), and chicken sausage. Why do you need so many types of chicken in one dish? It just seems overwhelming and, frankly, a bit confusing. This meal also comes with rice, beans, and plantains, but there's nothing green or fresh that helps lighten this meal up a bit. Rather, it's extremely heavy, despite the fact that relatively light chicken is playing the main role here.

While this meal might be a smart way to get a better sense of what Pollo Tropical offers, we do think it's kind of over the top if you truly want a balanced meal.

19. Mac and Cheese

While Pollo Tropical is supposed to be a Latin-style restaurant, there was clearly a point where the company obviously thought it needed to appeal to a larger audience. Hence, the introduction of "gringo" foods. One of those dishes was the mac and cheese side dish. And as you might expect from a restaurant that doesn't exactly specialize in comfort food, this is not good mac and cheese.

The first thing you'll notice when you take a bite is the fact the pasta itself is super soft — it doesn't have any of that al dente bite you've come to expect from a quality mac and cheese. Then there's the cheese sauce itself, which is super thin and watery, so it doesn't really coat the pasta well. Instead, it just kind of pools at the bottom of the container — probably not what you're looking for in a side dish.

Our take? There are a bunch of other sides that just make more sense than the mac and cheese. Go for rice and beans or some yucca if you want to enjoy the best the chain has to offer.

18. French fries

Another side dish that we're just not that crazy about? The French fries. Again, this is not a place that specializes in food like French fries, so it just makes sense that they're not going to put that much thought into them. All told, the French fries at Pollo Tropical are kind of soggy and sad, and they're just not worth your time. Also, these fries are thick-cut, meaning that it's difficult to get them crispy in the first place. We were disappointed that they definitely weren't salty enough for our tastes, too. And even though we like that they elected to keep the more flavorful skins on these fries, they still miss the mark — by a lot.

Of course, it's hard to mess up a fried potato completely, but these fries just really aren't anything special. Will you regret getting them if that's what you decide to order? Maybe not. However, if you take a closer look at the other side dish options, you may be bummed that you didn't order one of them instead. Just some food for thought as you make your way through the drive-thru.

17. Caesar Wrap

Sometimes, we love a simple meal, but at Pollo Tropical, you probably want to get something that's on the more exciting side. After all, this place sells a lot of dishes that you're not going to get at your average fast casual place. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that and opt for something that you can't get just anywhere? That's why the Caesar wrap is so low in our ranking. It's not because it's bad or not appetizing. We just don't know why you would order one here when it's something you can get just about anywhere.

The Caesar wrap is just what you're thinking it is. Basically, it's a grilled chicken Caesar salad placed inside of a wrap. It's quick and easy to eat on the go, and it's a relatively healthy option compared to a lot of other fast food dishes you could get for lunch. And while we love a good Caesar salad, there's just nothing special about this wrap that makes it stand out from the competition. It's decent, yes, but you can definitely find something better on the Pollo Tropical menu.

16. Yellow Rice with Vegetables

One thing we love about Pollo Tropical is the fact that they're going to give you options when it comes to what you want to order. And if the classic combo of rice and beans is your thing, then you're going to absolutely love all the side dishes available to you here. One of those sides is the yellow rice with vegetables. While we like this option more than a lot of the other, more Americanized sides on the menu, it's still not the best one on the Pollo Tropical menu.

The main issue we have with this dish? The rice doesn't seem to be cooked very well. There's more moisture in the rice than you would expect, leading to a mushy experience that definitely makes it less appetizing. When you decide to get this rice with beans on the side, it's more delicious, but it's still not great.

Don't worry, though, as there are other types of rice available as well. If you want to avoid the yellow rice with vegetables, you can always opt for the white rice and pair it with whatever you like.

15. Quesadilla Salad

Since Pollo Tropical seems like a relatively healthy restaurant, you may be surprised to find out that there are actually two salads on the menu. And unfortunately, we don't think they're that good, especially when you compare them to your other options. One of those salads is the quesadilla salad. It prominently features the brand's signature fire-grilled chicken, which is definitely the best part of this salad in our book. You'll also find romaine lettuce, black beans, tortilla strips, cheese, chipotle ranch, and two tortillas on the side.

As you can tell from the description, this is a very basic salad that you can find just about anywhere. It's pretty boring, and there's really nothing special about it. It's got that classic "Southwest" taste that still leaves a lot to be desired here. If you're looking for a bowl of greens and you're not that choosy, then this salad might be right for you. But if you truly want the best that Pollo Tropical has to offer, then we think you should pass this menu item up completely.

14. Pollo's Chicken Soup

Okay, we get it: Pollo Tropical is not the kind of place you're going to go if you're looking to get top-notch soup. In fact, pretty much no fast food or fast casual place is. However, if you decide you do want some soup and just happen to find yourself at Pollo Tropical, you will be able to find it there. It's the Pollo's chicken soup, and while we like that it's not just your average chicken noodle soup, it's still just okay.

This chicken soup is made with chicken, of course, but it also features corn, carrots, plantains, pumpkin, and yucca. In our opinion, the yucca is definitely the best part, as it adds a lot of bulk and some texture to the soup. We also think that the addition of plantains and pumpkin makes this menu item a lot more creative. However, overall, the soup is runny and the flavor is kind of plain. While it does make a solid side dish, it's probably not anything that you're going to order on its own. It doesn't hurt to try it on a cold day, though!

13. Crispy Chicken Cuban

You've had a Cuban sandwich before, right? As you'll see later, Pollo Tropical does sell regular Cuban sandwiches, but they also sell a similar version of this classic sandwich with crispy chicken in place of the roast pork. It's the crispy chicken Cuban, and we have mixed feelings about it all. First of all, a crispy chicken cutlet on a sandwich is pretty much always going to taste good. It's just one of those foods that pretty much everyone likes and which plays well with all manner of other ingredients. But in place of pork? On a Cuban? We can't help thinking that's quite possibly a culinary crime.

Now, taken on its own merit, the sandwich is good, and we don't think you'll complain if you order it. But the ham and the crispy chicken don't really seem to go together — they were apparently just thrown into the same sandwich as an afterthought. And while the pickles and the creamy mustard spread taste as if they belong on a normal Cuban, they don't break through the light chicken flavor in quite the same way they would work if pork were involved. This isn't a bad sandwich, per se. It just feels wrong to impersonate a real Cuban sandwich in this way.

12. Flan

After you finish a meal at Pollo Tropical, you may think that you have to move on to another restaurant or take a trip to your local bakery if you want to get dessert. But you may be surprised to find out that there are a few desserts on the restaurant's menu. Perhaps one of the most recognizable desserts on that list is the flan. Have you ever had flan before? If not, you may be wondering what it is. Basically, it's a custard-like dessert that's topped with a sweet, sugary topping. If you've ever had panna cotta or crème brûlée before, it's quite similar.

Flan is a favorite for many people out there, but we have to admit that the flan at Pollo Tropical is not the best available to you. That shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the fact that you can get flan at a ton of really nice restaurants with dedicated pastry chefs, but it can still be a bummer if you order it and are expecting something more impressive.

However, for a fast food dessert, this flan isn't all that bad. And where else can you get flan in a drive-thru, anyway?

11. Roast Pork Platter

When you go to Pollo Tropical, you will probably assume that it's all about the chicken. And if you take a cursory look at the menu, that's certainly what it seems like. However, that doesn't mean that you absolutely have to get chicken when you go to this chain. Take a closer look at the menu, and you'll see that they've added some other options to the board so everyone can find something they actually want to eat. If you're more of a pork person than a chicken eater, for instance, then you're going to want to consider getting the roast pork platter. The roast pork at Pollo Tropical is cooked in a mixture of juices, making it incredibly flavorful. You can choose from a variety of sides when you opt for this platter, so you have a lot of options, too.

However, we will admit that this platter still gets boring after a while. After all, when you're just looking at a plain pile of pork, it may not look like the most appetizing meal you've ever seen. The chain definitely uses pork in more interesting ways, so if you want to avoid the chicken but are starting to yawn just thinking about this roast pork platter, Pollo Tropical's still got you covered.

10. Balsamic Tomatoes

Now, we know we've talked poorly about some of the other side dishes on the menu, but if you're looking for a side dish that you're probably going to like, we think you should order the balsamic tomatoes. This is the ideal side dish if you're in the mood for something light and refreshing that will complement your chicken well. And since it's not just your basic side salad, you know you're getting something more enjoyable here.

It's quite a simple salad. First comes the most important ingredient: the tomatoes. They're ripe and juicy, which is just how we like them. They're paired with red onions that add some crunch as well as a ton of distinct flavor to the dish. Then, they're dressed in a nice balsamic vinegar-based glaze that it's hard not to love. When it comes all together, it's the salad we wish every fast food restaurant would dole out.

Our main complaint here is that the size isn't any bigger. We could easily eat two servings of these without filling up too much.

9. Ham Croquettes

Have you ever had croquettes before? This treat is a kind of fried dumpling, and it can be filled with all types of ingredients. When you bite into the ideal croquette, they're plenty crispy, but on the inside, they're usually nice and soft. The surprise here? You can actually get croquettes at Pollo Tropical. We know — we were surprised too. But if you want to give them a try, make sure you order the ham croquettes. With one order, you'll receive four of them, which is enough to share if you're getting an entree as well.

We love the crispy breading on the outside of these croquettes, and the meat-filled inside is pretty fantastic too. They may not be bursting with any extra flavorings, but fried meat carries plenty of flavor all on its own. Are these going to be the best croquettes you've ever tasted in your life? Well, probably not. But are they really, really good considering they're coming from a fast casual chain that you only see in Florida? Absolutely. They're definitely worth your time if you already know you love croquettes or if you want to give them a try.

8. Vegan Picadillo Wrap

At some fast casual restaurants, it can be difficult to find good options if you happen to be a vegetarian. It can be even more of a challenge if you're a vegan and don't want to consume any animal products. But these days, more and more restaurants are coming up with options that are suitable for all the plant-based eaters out there. However, a lot of these options just end up being a basic veggie burger, and that can get seriously boring after a while. That's why we were so pleasantly surprised when we realized that Pollo Tropical had a non-burger vegan menu item. It's the vegan picadillo wrap, and it actually tastes really good.

The vegan picadillo is made with Beyond Meat, so you know you're getting a meat replacement that actually tastes good, compared to the sad, mushy bean burgers of yore. This meal also comes with beans, plantains, and your choice of brown or white rice. That's all wrapped up in a flour tortilla so it's easy to eat. If you're experimenting with more veggie options, you should definitely give it a try.

7. Original Cuban

You already know how we feel about the crispy chicken Cuban. That particular menu item is pretty good, but it still just can't compare to the real thing. That's why we've ranked the original Cuban from Pollo Tropical so much higher on the list. While the addition of crispy chicken might be clever, it's not going to make the most delicious Cuban sandwich ever. After all, it was created the way it was because those original flavors of ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickle taste so good in concert. Here, instead of that crispy chicken cutlet, you're going to find mojo roast pork in this sandwich instead. It's complemented by the ham and the Swiss cheese. The pickles add vinegar-based acidity to the sandwich, which is just right to cut through those intense, fatty meats. Then, it's all finished off with a smear of mustard, which is simply the perfect condiment for this flavorful sandwich.

While, yes, you probably have had better Cuban sandwiches before in your life, this one is still one of our favorites at Pollo Tropical. If you want a classic, it's worth a try.

6. Sweet Plantains

If you've never had plantains before, you're seriously missing out. They're like bananas, but they're often prepared in more of a savory fashion. And when they get all nice and fried, they become unbelievably tasty. Unfortunately, you're not going to see plantains as a side dish in most fast food or fast casual restaurants. Therefore, when you spot the sweet plantains on the menu at Pollo Tropical, you know you have to take advantage of the opportunity.

The best part about these ripened plantains is the fact that they are cooked to absolute perfection. They've been caramelized so you can taste plenty of sweetness, and they're amazing to pair with rice and beans. While they may seem like a bland kind of side dish at first glance, you'll soon realize that they're anything but. Who knew that you could get such amazing plantains at a fast casual spot? We definitely think you should try them the next time you're there.

5. Boiled Yucca with Garlic Sauce

Have you ever heard of yucca before? Or perhaps you've heard of cassava. They're effectively the same thing, according to SF Gate, both being starchy root vegetables. Ultimately, you can think of both as a sort of potato with a more interesting texture. Sounds good, right? Well, if you want to try some for yourself, you may want to order the boiled yucca with garlic sauce. The texture of this vegetable is almost stringy when prepared otherwise, but when it's boiled, it takes on a lovely soft quality that makes every bite feel extra decadent.

If that weren't enough all on its own, this dish is made even better with the addition of garlic sauce. As you can probably imagine, the flavor of this sauce is incredibly strong, but it's strong in the best way possible. And considering that you're just eating a boiled vegetable with some garlic on top, you can rest assured that this is one of the healthier options on the menu. What's not to love about that?

4. ½ Fire Grilled Chicken Platter

When you go to Pollo Tropical, you'll notice on the menu a selection of platters. These menu items contain different types of meat, and then you get to add on various sides as you like. While there are several different platters available, one of our favorites is the half fire grilled chicken platter. That's right: With this meal, you're actually getting a whole half of a chicken. The bird in question is on the smaller side, sure, but you're still going to get a lot of meat with this meal. If you're not really hungry or you don't tend to eat a lot at one time, then this one probably isn't for you.

We love this option because you get to taste all the different parts of the chicken. Instead of just getting a breast, for example, you get a lot more variety here. Then, you also get to choose from a wide range of different sides, so it's easy to personalize to your liking.

3. Strawberry and Cheese Empanadas

It's an unfortunate truth that a lot of fast food and fast casual spots just don't have very good desserts. But at Pollo Tropical, you're likely going to be pretty pleased with the selection. And in our opinion, the best of those desserts are the strawberry and cheese empanadas. These flaky pastries are to die for, and if you've ever tried them before, then you know what all the hype is about. We were actually surprised to find out just how good they were at Pollo Tropical.

The filling is what makes them really special, though. First of all, there are sweet strawberries that have been muddled into a jelly-like consistency. They're sweet, yes, but there's also a hint of tartness there as well that nicely balances out the sugar. When that's combined with the cheese, something magical happens. The cheese is nice and creamy and adds a lovely texture to the empanadas, but it's also got just enough salt in it to complement that sweetness from the strawberries nicely.

And when you order the empanadas, you'll get two of them, which means you can share with family or friends — or just have more to yourself. This is one fast food dessert that you absolutely have to try if you have a sweet tooth but don't like desserts that are too sweet.

2. Fried Yucca

At most fast food restaurants you go to, there is one menu item that comes standard with the vast majority of meals on the menu: the French fries. Of course, we love French fries here at Mashed — it may just be the best way to eat a potato, in our opinion. But that doesn't mean that we always want fries all the time, regardless of the occasion or the food being served. Rather, it's fun to switch things up from time to time, which is why we were so excited to see the fried yucca on the Pollo Tropical menu. As soon as we tried this side dish, we immediately wished that it was available at every restaurant.

Like we mentioned above, yucca is similar to a potato, but it has a slightly different texture. And while it's delicious when it's boiled, it's even better when it's been fried. It's super flavorful, but it's still pretty neutral, which makes the fried version of this root vegetable perfect for dipping into any kind of sauce you have on hand. If you're looking for the best side dish on the menu, you've found it in the fried yucca.

1. Crispy Chicken with Pineapple Salsa Platter

And last but not least is the most delicious menu item at Pollo Tropical of them all. It may be a bit unexpected, but you can certainly bet that it's going to be delicious. It's the crispy chicken with pineapple salsa platter, and it's a meal that we honestly wish we could eat every day. While we don't generally like chicken breast, this crispy chicken breast is out of this world. It's surprisingly juicy and tender, and it seriously does have a really nice crisp to it, unlike some other fast food fried chicken offerings. While it may not strictly be the brand's signature chicken, we definitely like it the best.

The real star of the show in this platter, though, is the pineapple salsa. If you want a salsa that adds a little heat and a lot of sweetness, you're going to fall in love with this lovely, fresh addition to your meal. It's all served with two sides of your choice. If you're looking for advice, we think that white rice and black beans are a good option, but of course, you can choose anything from the sides menu that you want (and there are some really delicious options!). If you don't know what you want to get the next time you're at Pollo Tropical, the crispy chicken with pineapple salsa platter should definitely be high on your list of must-try dishes.