Photos by Allegra Anderson
Back in February we announced that Roy and Heather Riedl, owners of Mercado Foods, were planning to open a fast-casual restaurant in Wethersfield and now that vision has come to life. El Pollo Guapo opens later this week at 1866 Berlin Turnpike in Wethersfield.
The small, sixteen seat restaurant will serve rotisserie chickens, sides, salads and sandwiches, and the Riedl's hope that El Pollo Guapo will help fill the need for locally owned, healthy, fast-casual restaurants in the Hartford area. Located just 10 minutes from Downtown, 15 minutes from West Hartford and 20 from their hometown of Glastonbury, El Pollo Guapo will be open from 11am-9pm Tuesday-Thursdays, 11am-10pm Friday and Saturdays and 12-8pm on Sundays.
With an emphasis on items that are easy to eat quickly or to take to-go, the menu is comprised of sections that make it easy to order for yourself or the whole family. Rotisserie chickens (quarter $9, half $8, whole $14) come served as meals that include your choice of sauce(s), brown or yellow rice and up to three sides. Guapo bowls ($9) come on either grains or greens with your choice of grilled, rotisserie or fried chicken. The Span-ish Chop (pictured above) is served with romaine, avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions, pico de gallo, grilled corn, roasted chick peas, marinated cucumber and avocado ranch.
The rest of the menu might seem more familiar to fans of the Riedl's popular food truck, Mercado. The tapas section features items like smashed avocado with house chips ($5), chicken empanadas with sweet chili sauce ($4) and popcorn nugz with garlic lime or sriracha aioli ($7). Sides ($3 for small, $6 for large) include chicken fat potatoes, handsome rice, sweet plaintains and tomato and cucumber salad. There are three sandwiches ($5.50) on the menu, all with your choice of rotisserie, grilled or fried chicken, which can be made into meals by adding a soda and fries for just $4.
As business owners with two small children, the Riedl's understand the need to feed kids healthy food efficiently. The Small Peeps section consisting of grilled chicken sliders, chicken and rice, and chicken nuggets all served with fruit or vegetables and a juice box hopes to facilitate this.
El Pollo Guapo is decorated in accordance with their signature "Span-ish" flair. The windows are lined with cacti and tropical plants, and a wall of navy blue tiles greets you when you walk in. A logo mural by local artist Jaime LaDucer adorns another wall and the ceiling is painted to resemble Spanish tile.
The Riedl's became known for "Span-ish" cuisine when they opened Mercado in 2014. What began as a catering business eventually grew to a small food trailer and then a full size food truck in 2016. Mercado Food Truck can be found at farmers markets and event throughout Hartford County and the couple is also available to cater events.
When asked her thoughts on the opening of their newest venture, Heather Riedl said "we're excited. It's great to see this idea that we've had come to reality and to have our friends eating here is ridiculous and amazing."
El Pollo Guapo is located at 1866 Berlin Turnpike Wethersfield, CT 06109. They can be reached at (860) 436-4982 or at elpolloguapo.com and you can find them on social media at @guapoeats.