Fans of Mexican cuisine should try El Pollo de Oro

Granite Bay restaurant’s specialty is marinated chicken
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Every time my boyfriend and I discuss what to eat out for dinner, I state my usual preference: Mexican.

I could eat Mexican food seven days a week, and I am not even kidding. This has been my food genre of choice for as long as I remember. I’d eat chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch and dinner if society didn’t judge me.

Needless to say, my infatuation has taken me to my fair share of Mexican joints. Upon my first visit to El Pollo de Oro in Granite Bay, the eatery quickly rose to the top of my list of favorite local restaurants.

The Santa Fe-style eatery opened in March 2011 and its name means “the golden chicken.” When the new owners bought the 25-year-old establishment last year, they opted to keep the old name intact. Although, the “golden chicken” could also reference the restaurant’s specialty, a marinated chicken served with rice, beans and tortillas.

“It’s marinated all night, with no oils and with a hint of lime,” said manager Gabby Diaz. “It’s really good.”

Customer Jennifer Roberson didn’t try the marinated chicken during her recent visit to the restaurant, instead opting for one of her two preferred dishes. She works at Essentials Spa Salon next door and buys lunch at El Pollo de Oro twice a week.

“It’s very fresh,” Roberson said. “I either get the fish tacos or the ceviche. The ceviche is amazing.”

El Pollo de Oro sits nestled in the corner of a shopping center on Auburn Folsom Road and Douglas Boulevard. The restaurant’s interior boasts warm yellow and orange walls, with sombreros and pottery on display.

I may not be a “foodie,” but I know good Mexican food, and El Pollo de Oro offers high-quality, flavorful dishes. The food isn’t over-the-top or trying too hard to be unique. It’s just right: fresh tasting with an abundance of flavors, perfect portion size, served hot and all for a reasonable price.

I ordered the vegetarian burrito stuffed with zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans and a good helping of cheese on top. One of the best veggie burritos I’ve had.

One of my dining companions ordered the ceviche, a fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juice and spiced will chili peppers, which he described as quite tasty. But this appetizer came out late with the entrée.

“Either that or the food came out early,” he said.

True, our dinner arrived quickly and the few minutes we did wait were spent eating the delicious salsa and crispy tortilla chips, which our attentive waitress replenished several times without even asking if we wanted more. She knew: Of course, we wanted more!

The atmosphere was lively and family friendly, but not noisy. Beer is available on tap.

My friends and I engaged in conversation in the cozy environment offered by El Pollo de Oro and never felt rushed to pay our bill and leave. In fact, we ended up staying there for more than two hours before realizing the restaurant had closed.

Sena Christian can be reached at


El Pollo de Oro
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Location: 8657 Auburn Folsom Road in Granite Bay
Info: Call (916) 791-5858