BOONE — Arroz con pollo — or known as chicken with rice — is a staple cuisine in many establishments serving Mexican food, and is the namesake for one of Boone’s newest restaurants.
Arroz Con Pollo opened Dec. 1 in the Watauga Village Shopping Center next to Food Lion. The restaurant was founded by Ernesto Flores, who also acts as the main cook. Chicken and rice is a combination beloved by millions across the globe, with unique variations popping up in every country it is in.
“ACP is universal; everyone has their own versions of it,” Flores said. “I had the idea for this project and it’s been going great. The reception’s been really good so far.”
Flores said he originally planned for the restaurant to be open in November 2019, but life got in the way. Only a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic began, putting the plans on hold for even longer.
“It’s life, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Flores said, shrugging off the wrench that was thrown into his plans. “It’s like they say though, lemons and lemonade.”
Now open, the restaurant is take-out only. Flores admitted the lack of dine-in has made being open during the pandemic less of a hassle.
The “Original” arros con pollo on the menu is chicken, rice, tortillas and melted cheese on top, but that is only the beginning. The restaurant has variations based on different states such as Hawaii, which has pineapple added, or Texas, which adds steak and shrimp to the dish.
Flores said some of the additions can seem odd to people reading the menu for the first time, but swears by the tastes.
“When I was working at another restaurant, someone told me about corn and ACP and I thought they were crazy,” Flores said, referencing the Nebraska menu option. “We had people ordering it though, so I thought I’d try it. It’s really good, it just works.”
Flores said the Hawaii is another personal favorite, saying the sweetness of the pineapple mixes well with the savory chicken. As for his go-to, and top recommendation, he pointed to the Tijuana — a standard arroz con pollo with the addition of chorizo.
While the restaurant is based around arroz con pollo, Flores said a huge hit has been their Friday special, barbacoa. The traditional, Mexican barbecue takes quite a bit of preparation, so Flores said it will stay a special despite popular demand.
Arroz Con Pollo is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday at 370 Watauga Village Drive in Boone. For more information or to check out their menu, call (828) 386-1029 or go to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arrozconpollotakeoutgrill/?ref=page_internal.