Fast Food Review: Is El Pollo Loco Ashamed of its Dessert Nachos?

(Note: this review was requested by Danny Baldwin of if you have a request for a fast food review, and the item in question is available in the Southern California area, email it to the regular tip line on the right hand side.)

So let me get this straight, El Pollo Loco. You come up with a new menu item that actually gets people talking because nobody else has it, and not only do you not mention it at all on your official website, but this is the only picture you make available, via your Facebook page?


Don’t call this a new promotion. Call it a semi-hiding, similar to the way Fox released Mike Judge’s Idiocracy into theaters without press screenings, publicity of any kind, or even posters in some theaters. We know they came to regret that mistake, and the movie has gone on to become a staple of DVD shelves and cable TV rotation. Who will discover the untapped potential of the chocolate nacho?

I suppose I would be the guy, if there were much to discover. And perhaps carrying excessive wistfulness in my heart, I had hope…and fear. Corn chips for dessert? Well, when you think about it, most desserts we buy, especially at fast food joints, have corn syrup in them, so it’s not the stretch you might think.

Turns out they’re not made of corn tortillas, but flour. And it likely will not surprise you to know that the Crazy Chicken is not as generous with the sauce as the picture would have you believe. That little pitcher of sauce is deceptive in the extreme; not only do you not get one, but I’ll wager the restaurant doesn’t have one either. Because nachos require heavy duty pumps. If you’re gonna pump the cheese, the mirror-image version needs to pump the sauce. Because none of us who eat here are pumping iron, for damn sure.

To back up: I used to be a nachos purist, but now I think I actually prefer the pump cheese to regular. This isn’t to say I cannot appreciate a good French Camembert; far from it – I could eat that stinky shit for every meal. But American nacho pump cheese is like Dolly Parton’s breasts: you know it’s fake, you know that in the right context natural is better, but you cannot look away. Your eyes and your mouth react anyway. Or at least mine do. Hypothetical you does as well, as long as I’m determining the hypotheticals, by the way.

So dessert nachos. This chocolate sauce is to Mexican chocolate as Dolly Parton’s fake tits are to the warm cleavage of the woman who loves you (who can indeed be hypothetical if a real one isn’t around. In this exercise you are also hypothetically a heterosexual male. This tangential fiction is getting out of hand). What I’m saying is that it’s garish and got my attention, but in the end it’s not too satisfying. Because unlike Dolly, they skimp. Get a good chip going with some of the marshmallow sauce, chocolate and powdered sugar, and the right bite tastes like a brownie. But you’ll be lucky if there are a solidly four or five good such chips in there.

It took me three days to finish an order of these, even after sharing, because the vaguely sweetened taste of fried flour tortilla doesn’t do much. Except make me pine for Taco Bell’s cinnamon crispas, which haven’t existed since the ’80s. El Pollo Loco’s churros make for the better substitute, but at least with new dessert items, the cashiers stop reading me their previously mandated spiel about flan.