The best chicken in Chapala—or anywhere else!

If you come to Chapala, be sure to add this to your itinerary:

Does the place have a name? Probably, but I don’t know what it is. Doesn’t matter. All  you really need to know is, it’s “the chicken place by the Walmart.” You’ll smell it before you see it.

You know how in the States chicken tastes of nothing? Like button mushrooms? Or farmed salmon? Well, this chicken is the opposite of that chicken. It’s seasoned and grilled to perfection over a charcoal grill the size of small car. And the succulent, fall-0ff-the-bone meat resonates with flavor.

In short, it tastes like chicken.

It’s important to go early in the day, say by 4:30 or the chickens will sell out, and you’ll be a dead-man walking on the way home to disappoint your expectant and unforgiving family.

Just pull over and park anywhere. You can check out the big menu sign (posted prices, so no gringo upcharge), or you can save time and just go for the kill by ordering un pollo con todo, chicken with everything.

If your Spanish is up to scratch, you can spend three minutes specifying the exact characteristics of the chicken you want, like the Mexican lady in front of me did yesterday. But whatever they give you is sure to be the best chicken you had in your life, so don’t sweat it.

Back to the pollo con todo. When you order, they’ll ask you if you want chilis or cebollas (onions) with that.

You do. They’re charred on the same fire, all delicious.

While you’re waiting, you will look around and notice you’re the only gringo there. Just you and the locals.

Seconds later, the grill guy will bring over your chicken and thrust it onto the order lady’s blackened cutting board (more like a cross section from a large tree trunk). Then she’ll whip out her cleaver, hack your dinner into pieces, and shove everything into plastic sack along with the onions, the chilis, a baggie of rice, a baggie of green salsa, and a handful of fresh-made corn tortillas.

You will hand her $90 pesos (about $7 US). This is the same price as a raw chicken from Walmart, with no sides, requiring lots of labor on your part, that won’t taste as good anyway so why bother. She will hand you the precious plastic sack, and you will scurry ecstatically back to your ride.

The smell in the car on the way home will make you weep. You will drive with one hand on the wheel, the other on the collar of your dog, who is straining to reach the heavenly bag.

All set? Good. Now off you go to get your chicken…

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Living Outside of the Box October 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

We’ve never eaten there (I know…shame on us…but we TRIED to avoid eating meat!), but we’ve always noticed the massive line of locals there (aka AWESOME food for a good price)!!
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2 Renee October 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Alisa, oh of course, I forgot about that. Tell me, I’m not seeing very good fruit/veg in the Walmart. Quality was better at the local market, but the variety wasn’t huge. Is that because it’s October? Is there more in the Spring/Summer.

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3 Clélie October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I want it!

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4 Renee October 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

It’s awesome. Today when we passed by a truckload of Mexican police were getting their dinner, just like everyone else. No camera handy though. Tragic!

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5 Daisy Devon October 17, 2012 at 9:45 am

We are vegetarians, but I LOVE THIS POST! I laughed, I laughed again, I loved the writing. Very nice Renee!
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6 Renee October 17, 2012 at 10:18 am

Cheers, Daisy!

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7 Kirsty October 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

yum! I need to go there! In fact I’m hungry now, I should make sure I’ve eaten before I read your blog!
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8 Lana Hope October 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

haha! That’s cool. Thailand is like that with Chickens too!!!

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9 Renee November 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Yes! I love gai yang in Thailand. The best one I ever had was on some random soi in some random neighborhood by Bangkok’s old airport. So freaking good!
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10 Karen January 22, 2014 at 9:34 am

Everette got chicken last night at a different vendor, but we’ll have to check this one out. We got the same salsa, tortillas, peppers, and yummy roasted potatoes instead of rice. 2 chicken meals for 179 pesos ($13.70 USD) to feed 9 of us. The delicious chicken fell off the bones. I made broth over night and now the leftover meat simmers with rice in the broth for lunch. Two meals…Cheap eating.
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11 Chris February 20, 2014 at 10:25 am

On your recommendation we are going here today for lunch and hope we can get just a meal for two rather than a whole chicken, because we won’t be near a refrigerator until around 9pm. There are a couple of rosticerias in Chapala centro, and at least one offers whole new potatoes that are cooked underneath the dripping chickens, yummm. Wednesday we went to the nearby outdoor market (tanguis) and bought incredibly fresh, delicious (raw) chicken livers for ~70c/lb; they’re around $2.50 where we live in the US, and who knows how long since the poor tortured half-dead chickens were slaughtered. The outdoor and village markets are the places to buy meat and produce here; everything is fresh and prices are reasonable. This is a wonderful area for both vegetarian and carnivorous foodies, with interesting Mexican street food and a huge variety of restaurants of all ethnicities. We had great Thai food at Simply Thai in Ajijic. Many of the bigger “Mexican” restaurants cater to NOB tastes with bland, tasteless food, and we’re slowly learning which ones to avoid.

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