Have you ever had a craving so specific, that you knew you wouldn't be able to find it right away?
Well my craving was for homemade tortillas. Why, I'm not sure. I haven't had homemade tortillas since 2006, so why would I want some in Feb. of 2012? In the end, it didn't matter, but I had to go and find some.
Being a food connoisseur, I can point people to almost any restaurant or marketplace that their palate desires, but for this, I had to use good ol' Google.
I didn't anticipate on finding something nearby in The San Fernando Valley, but sure enough a place called Pop's Chicken popped up on Google. The first thing that came to mind, was that something was wrong, a place called Pop's Chicken having homemade tortillas didn't seem likely, but after further digging, found they did indeed have piping hot tortillas.
So, I decided to make the trek down to a street I had never hear of in North Hollywood. When I got there, I still didn't know what I had found, as the parking lot was next to a house, with an apartment building right acroos the street from Pop's. The next thing I saw was the smoke coming from the grill and chicken on the grill, and beyond that did not know what to expect...
When I went in, I was greeted by Betsy Vazquez, daughter of owner/founder Gabriel Vazquez, and when I asked her about their specialty, she said EVERYTHING was homemade, but the chicken was what they were known for and she proceeded to grab a sample wing hot off of the grill for me to try...
Even though I am not a fan of wings, I tried it to test the flavor, and I knew right then and there, some sort of chicken would be finding it's way unto my plate. I then was greeted by Mitch Vazquez, son of Gabriel, and also part of the Pop's Chicken staff. Since "Pop" was grilling, Mitch was able to answer some questions about this hole-in-the-wall turned diamond-in-the-rough!
- "Pop's Chicken" was opened in May of 2011.
- This style of cooking Gabriel Vazquez learned was from a friend decades ago in Guadalajara, Mexico.
- Before they opened the restaurant "Pop" (Gabriel) worked in construction and "Mom" (Maria) worked in the clothing industry.
- The family started catering years ago at their local church, and finally decided to open up a restaurant.
- The entire staff is related, from "Momma" Vazquez working in the kitchen with her sister-in-law Priscilla Vazquez, and all the siblings helping out from Mitch, Betsy, Joab, and Priscilla.
Now, back to the food.
The food here is one of a kind. It is truly, the ultimate comfort food, as many of the items were the best I have tasted.
The chicken was VERY tasty and moist. They marinate the chicken for one day before grilling it, and nothing is added to it while it is being cooked. I tried the breast meat, and that too was plump and came off easily. The BEST grilled chicken I have tried anywhere.
The Hawaiian Rib's did not compare to the chicken, but the sauce was excellent, it had a sweet taste (the paste comes from Hawaii) but with a kick to it. One of the top three best barbeque sauces I have ever tasted. (I asked Mitch if I could put that with the chicken, but he did not recommend that.)
Next I tried a Carne Asada Sope, which is made out of their maize base, with beans, cut jalapeno, sour cream, lettuce, onion, tomato and cheese. Wow! This was just as good as the chicken, I don't think I was able to breathe since I finished it so fast.
The Beef Flauta was next, which came garnished like the sope, and was made up of their homemade corn tortillas deep fried with beef inside. The crunch was great, and by them using fresh ingredients, felt healthier to my stomach, as opposed to a frozen flauta being deep fried to order.
The side orders included beans, rice, cole slaw and potato salad. If I had to choose two, I would go with their homemade beans and rice, but the cole slaw was good, and didn't have that watered down in mayonaise taste. The potato salad had a great taste to it, but I prefer my potatoes softer, while Pop's potatoes were on the crunchy side.
For my beverage, I had a homemade horchata, a rice based drink with a cinnamon taste to it, that was delicious, and I tried something I had never heard of before -- Atole. It's a warm, thick drink, that can be made with many flavors, and the one I was served was pineapple. They make different flavors on different days, and I am looking forward to trying the chocolate version of that! They said they usually drink these when eating tamales, or when it is cold outside, and you just want something to warm you up and feel good inside!
They have different specials every day, on Wednesdays they have stuffed Chile Rellenos and tamales, and their prices are very affordable. A breast and a thigh with two sides and two tortillas is $6.50, and a whole chicken with sides and tortillas is $13.99. If you wanna try just a sope that will run you $2.00 and a flauta $1.50.
Your probably wondering, what about the tortillas?? The tortillas were great! Small, homemade corn tortillas -- there is nothing like them. I ate four of them, on top of everything else! If you need extra tortillas for your meal, four will run you $1.00.
They are open 8-8 every day, but if the chicken sells out, they close as well. They make everything the same day, so make sure you're there before it runs out. They also cater, and will customize according to your needs. To see there Yelp page click here. To be a fan on facebook, click here.
They are located at 11721 Runnymede St. in North Hollywood, and can be reached at 818.764.2144 or 818.397.2250.
P.S. El Pollo Loco would go out of business if there were "Pop's Chicken" everywhere.
I went back to try their Chile Relleno. It cooked perfectly and stuffed with cheese. (Most days you can get it stuffed with beef.) The best part about it, was the sauce. One word -- WOW. It was great! It was better than any enchilada sauce I had tried before. It wasn't spice, but had a great savory flavor. I asked if that was the same sauce for their enchiladas, and they said "no," they have a different one for the enchiladas... Guess I'm going to have to go back and try those...
(There a new pictures of the Chile Relleno with rice and beans.)