El Pollo Loco (which is Spanish for “the crazy chicken”), is a Mexican-inspired restaurant chain that is available in both Mexico and the United States. A lot of the main dishes you’ll find are made using chicken, but El Pollo Loco is also the first largest chain in the world to provide vegans with plant-based chicken burritos and tacos.
Vegan options at El Pollo Loco:
- Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito (exclude non-vegan dressing and queso)
- Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco (exclude cheese)
- Corn Tortillas
- Flour Tortillas
- Tortilla Chips
- Tapatio Fries
- Avocado Salsa
- House Salsa
- Salsa Roja
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Side Salad (exclude cheese)
- Jalapeno Hot Sauce
- Pico de Gallo
- Citrus Vinaigrette
- Beverages (Fountain sodas, bottled water, iced tea, etc)
In addition to the chickenless tacos and burritos, you also have a wide array of vegan-friendly options, which means you could have easily had a vegan meal at El Pollo Loco before these options were introduced.
Let’s look at the vegan options available in more detail so that you can more easily make up your mind before you step foot in an El Pollo Loco.
Are El Pollo Loco’s Tortillas Vegan?
Generally, tortillas are vegan. However, traditionally, tortillas used to be made with lard, a seemingly white fat product obtained by rendering the fatty tissue of pigs. While this method is not obsolete, it’s rare.
Today, lard is replaced by butter, vegetable shortening, or vegetable oil as the main fat source.
Fortunately, El Pollo Loco sells corn and flour tortillas, both of which are made using vegan-friendly ingredients according to the nutritional information available on their website.
Vegan Options at El Pollo Loco
Before we go over each vegan option in detail, check out this video of MsVegan trying out some vegan options at El Pollo Loco.
(We’ve included this video for those who find videos more engaging)
1 – Vegan Chickenless Burrito & Vegan Chickenless Taco
By far the most sought-after vegan options at El Pollo Loco. The Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito & the Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco are a must-taste for any vegan.
The Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito contains shredded lettuce, black beans, avocado slices, and Chickenless Pollo, which is essentially meatless “chicken” that’s simmered in fire-roasted peppers, onions, and tomatoes wrapped in a 12” flour tortilla. The meatless “chicken” is created from 100% non-GMO soy protein.
The Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco also contains the same ingredients, with the exception of the black beans and the 5.5” yellow corn blend tortilla. Ensure that you’re actually ordering these options without queso fresco and cheese, which are ingredients included in their vegetarian counterparts.
2 – Tortilla Chips and Tapatio Fries
Next to the vegan burrito and taco — the Tortilla Chips and the Tapatio Fries are probably the most sought-after vegan-friendly sides. The Tortilla Chips are a true delicacy when dipped in guacamole, and the Tapatio Fries are similar to regular fries, which are amazing with or without sauces.
3 – Guacamole
The Guacamole sold by El Pollo Loco is vegan.
In fact, it comes with Tortilla Chips, as you can see from the image above. The ingredients used to make the Guacamole are Avocado, Cilantro, Onion, and Serrano Pepper, all of which are vegan.
4 – Avocado Salsa, House Salsa, Salsa Roja, Pico de Gallo Salsa, Jalapeno Hot Sauce & Citrus Vinaigrette
El Pollo Loco has five different vegan-friendly toppings: Avocado Salsa, House Salsa, Salsa Roja, Pico de Gallo Salsa, and Jalapeno Hot Sauce.
The Avocado Salsa is a great green-colored topping that can be added to either the Vegan Chickenless Burrito or Taco, and confer them with a creamy, spicy, and fresh taste.
Sometimes you’ll find Avocado Salsa that contains Sour Cream, but the one made by El Pollo Loco is simply a mixture of avocado, jalapeno, white vinegar, cilantro, diced onions, and salt. It’s delicious.
The House Salsa, on the other hand, is a red-colored topping made using quartered tomatoes, a fresh jalapeno pepper, cilantro, and salt.
The Salsa Roja is also a red sauce but with a stronger spicy taste than House Salsa. Typically, Salsa Roja is made of jitomate, onion, garlic, chile, salt, and pepper.
Pico de Gallo, which is also referred to as salsa fresca and salsa cruda, is a type of salsa made from chopped tomato, onion, serrano peppers, lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
The Jalapeno Hot Sauce is a very strong hot sauce that is typically made from Jalapeno pepper, minced garlic, minced onion, white vinegar, water, and salt.
Finally, you also have Citrus Vinaigrette, which generally combines ingredients such as finely chopped shallot, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, orange juice, olive oil, and black pepper.
5 – Black Beans, Pinto Beans, and Corn.
Even if you decide to avoid the Vegan Chickenless Options, you can always opt for black or pinto beans, which taste delicious with a bowl of rice.
Add in some Tapatio Fries, some Broccoli, and a House Salad (with no cheese) and you’re good to go. In addition to beans, El Pollo Loco also individually sell a bowl of Corn, which you’ll find on their menu.
6 – Rice
While there’s nothing much to say about plain rice, it’s still a legitimate vegan option.
Whether you’re getting a Chickenless Burrito or a bowl filled with black beans, plain rice is always a good complement, especially if you’re looking to get full.
7 – Side Salad (without cheese), Coleslaw (without mayo) & Broccoli
You can’t have a healthy meal if you don’t have at least a couple of veggies on your plate. When it comes to veggies, however, El Pollo Loco only has a few options.
On their menu, you’re able to find a side salad, coleslaw, and broccoli. The side salad and coleslaw are not vegan unless you remove the cheese and mayo, so ensure you actually consider that when placing the order.
8 – Beverages
Here are the vegan drinks you can find on El Pollo Loco’s menu:
- Barq’s Root Beer
- Cherry Coke
- Diet Coke
- Dr. Pepper
- Diet Dr. Pepper
- Fanta Orange
- Fuze Sweetened Raspberry Iced Tea
- Gold Peak Fresh-Brewed Mango Passion Fruit Iced Tea
- Gold Peak Fresh-Brewed Unsweetened Iced Tea
- Hi-C Flashin’ Fruit Punch
- Horchata (it’s usually vegan)
- Minute Maid Lemonade
- Minute Maid Strawberry Lemonade
- Vitamin Water XXX
- Bottled Water
Other than the Horchata, I’m certain that every drink on their menu is vegan.
Horchata is defined as a vegetable drink (on Wikipedia) because it’s made from tiger nuts. However, not everyone makes Horchata the same way. For example, in certain places, condensed milk is added on top.
Feel free to read more about the Horchata in this blog post we wrote.
Summary: El Pollo Loco is a Vegan-Friendly Restaurant
Yes, El Pollo Loco is a legitimate vegan-friendly restaurant because they’re are the first largest restaurant chain in the world to add a vegan-friendly burrito and taco to their menu.
But even if they hadn’t decided to do so, you can still find options like black or pinto beans, avocado salsa, rice, broccoli, side salad (exclude cheese), and more, which would allow you to easily create a fulfilling meal.
That being said, If you’re a burrito or taco lover and you’re vegan, El Pollo Loco is the place to visit.
Two Final Recommendations For My Fellow Vegans
Allow me to make two quick recommendations that have helped me in my vegan journey by ensuring I’m always healthy and deficiency-free.
- The first recommendation is my favorite vegan multivitamin supplement. It was created with vegans in mind. It contains vitamins B12, D, and Omega 3. In other words, it contains nutrients that vegans are generally low in.
- The second recommendation is this amazing vegan starter kit that is actually a bundle with 9 e-books that will help you lead a healthy, vegan lifestyle without running into any dietary deficiencies. It has great advice, and it includes print-outs and checklists that will make the theory easy to implement. This is something I’ve included in my recommended products page as well.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Hopefully, it has served you well.