Southwestern chain El Pollo Loco actually has its roots in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico, however, it launched its first US-based location in LA in 1980. It has since grown to have a presence in 400 locations across California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Texas, and at one point, the chain even employed Brad Pitt as its mascot. Aside from its star-studded staff, El Pollo Loco, or The Crazy Chicken, as the name suggests, has a rather chicken-heavy menu, getting through, on average, 147 full chickens each day. That said, it has a wide variety of vegan-friendly fillings, too, whether you’re looking for a beanie burrito or a sumptuous salad. At Vegan Unlocked, we’ve made it even easier to enjoy plant-based power at El Pollo Loco and equipped with our full menu, editor’s picks, and secret menu, you’re guaranteed to walk away with a full, satisfied stomach – you could even try landing the companies second title for world’s largest burrito!
The Vegan Unlocked Research Team searched through all 44 items on the El Pollo Loco menu and found 9 sensational on-menu items, and a couple of delicious custom creations.
El Pollo Loco scores 3.3 out of 5 stars with a vegan-friendly menu. This score means that if you’re visiting this Mexican-style chain, there are lots of plant-based flavor combinations for you to enjoy. However, your choices are not unlimited and you won’t find any meat alternatives or vegan cheese.
This score is calculated based on the number of vegan offerings on El Pollo Loco’s menu “as is” or with an easy substitution, a restaurant vegan customizability score and finally, the number of vegan options vs non-vegan options. Learn more about how Vegan Unlocked Ratings are calculated.
Chains are increasingly getting better at making their menus more inclusive, providing more vegan-friendly options, and catering specifically to their vegan clientele. El Pollo Loco, up until recently, was one of the chains doing this, offering its own soy-based vegan chicken alternative. However, even without vegan chicken, there are still plenty of vegan options available for you to choose from. We’ve made that list even bigger with our secret menu, courtesy of our team of vegan researchers who’ve come up with some rather brilliant custom creations for you to enjoy. You can try your hand at mixing it up, too. Sometimes that might just involve swapping out some meat for beans or holding the cheese.
Looking to keep things a bit simpler? Keep scrolling to check out the El Pollo Loco full menu, and our editors’ top picks just below this section.
Rice and Beans
This dish sounds simple enough, but don’t let that make you think it won’t be lip-smackingly delicious. Order up a side of rice, a side of beans, and a side of avocado salsa, and mix it up to create a hearty meal that’s got bags full of flavor. Why not drizzle over some pico de gallo for a touch more depth?
Tacos are the perfect vehicle for scrumptious filling, and with this secret menu item, you can pack it full of your favorites. Get a side of beans, avocado salsa and salsa roja, and a side of tortillas, and get creative by assembling your own tacos.
All the Vegan Options at El Pollo Loco
So, what else is vegan at El Pollo Loco?
- Shredded Chicken(less) Nachos: Ordered without chicken, queso sauce, or sour cream, and you’ll have handmade guacamole, pinto beans, and fresh pico de gallo all piled on top of some crunchy tortilla chips seasoned with a sprinkling of sea salt.
- Classic Tostada Salad: Order this without chicken, cheese, or sour cream, and add some Mexican vinaigrette on top to zing it up.
- BRC burrito with Guacamole: Order this burrito without cheese to make it vegan-friendly, and you’ve got a delicious super saver meal coming in at just $3.68.
- Chicken(less) Avocado Burrito: Ordered without the chicken, cheese, or creamy cilantro dressing and you’ll be left with a grilled tortilla filled with fresh avocado, pinto beans, pico de gallo salsa, cabbage, and fresh cilantro.
- Chicken(less) Avocado Taco: To make this devilishly delicious taco vegan-friendly, order it without the chicken, cheese, or creamy cilantro dressing.
- Original Pollo Bowl with Avocado: Ordered without chicken, this bowl of plant-based deliciousness will have your taste buds tingling.
- Grande Avocado Chicken(less) Bowl: This meal, when ordered without chicken, cheese, or sour cream, is a plant-based party in the mouth. Just make sure to check that the corn doesn’t contain butter.
- Double Chicken(less) Avocado Salad with Mexican Vinaigrette: No sad salads here, that’s for sure! Ordered without chicken or cheese, this dish is packed to the brim with flavor.
- Chicken(less) Tinga Burrito: This burrito can be easily veganized, just order it without chicken or cheese.
- Chips and guacamole
- BCR kids’ meal without cheese
Sauces, Add Ons, Toppings
- Mexican vinaigrette
- Salsa roja
- Avocado salsa
- Loco Side Salad with Mexican vinaigrette without the cheese and creamy cilantro dressing
- House salsa
- Pico de gallo
Editor’s Picks: What Are the Top Vegan Meals at El Pollo Loco?
Whether you’re looking to make some gains or just keen to keep it lean, the best protein-packed plant-based option at El Pollo Loco is its Rice and Beans.
These days, everyone’s scrimping and saving, and with food prices predicted to rise by between 9.5 and 10.5 percent, it’ll probably be good news to hear that there are still some bargains to be had out there. At El Pollo Loco, the best option for eating out on a budget is the BRC Burrito with Guacamole, which costs just $3.68.
When you’re out with the kids, it can sometimes feel like a tall order to find something plant-based, healthy, and delicious. However, at El Pollo Loco, you’re in luck, with the BCR kids’ meal without cheese being its top tiny-crowd pleaser.
Note: Vegan Unlocked is a tool dedicated to helping people find plant-based options. We are not an allergen resource, and want to encourage our friends with allergies to proceed with caution. We cannot control and don’t always know when cross contamination takes place. As far as cross-contamination of vegan foods with animal products, this is completely up to your comfort level as an individual. Read our stance on cross contamination.
Frequently Asked El Pollo Loco Questions
Is El Pollo Loco Avocado Salsa Vegan?
Yes, El Pollo Loco’s Avocado Salsa is indeed vegan, so feel free to slather it on everything and anything.
Are El Pollo Loco Churros Vegan?
Unfortunately, at this time, El Pollo Loco does not offer any vegan-friendly desserts, which means its Churros are not vegan.
Are The Beans at El Pollo Loco Vegan?
The beans at El Pollo Loco, whether black or pinto, are vegan-friendly.
You can find out more information on El Pollo Loco by visiting their website here.
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