What to Eat at El Pollo Loco: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

El Pollo Loco

Verywell / Christian Alzate

El Pollo Loco serves up Mexican-style food and is widely known for its famous fire-grilled chicken. Though it is a fast-casual restaurant with a drive-thru, El Pollo Loco makes an effort to include healthy options on its menu. Customers can choose low-calorie meals from the Pollo Fit section of the menu or swap heavier menu items for lighter ones.

Whether you want to try one of the low-calorie menu options or indulge in Mexican-style comfort food, El Pollo Loco has an extensive yet straightforward menu that has something for everyone. You'll find El Pollo Loco restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, and Louisiana, and prices range from under $10 (for burritos and salads) to $30 and up (for family-style meals).

What Experts Say

"El Pollo Loco offers a variety of healthy menu options, including skinless chicken breasts and small bowls with high-fiber beans. There's also a section of the menu that contains meals under 500 calories as well as sides like steamed broccoli, side salads, and chicken tortilla soup. If you are looking to eat healthier, you can certainly find something on this menu; just keep an eye out for the sodium content." —Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN

Navigating the Menu

Like many fast-casual restaurants, El Pollo Loco has a large menu with a long list of meals to choose from. If you're looking for low-calorie options, you might head straight for the Pollo Fit section. El Pollo Loco also has family-style meals designed for sharing.

What to Order & Avoid at El Pollo Loco
 Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options
Classic Tostada Salad (Tostada Salads) Double Chicken Tostada Salad (Tostada Salads)
Fire-Grilled Chicken Breast (Chicken Meals) 4-Piece Chicken Meal (Chicken Meals)
Chicken Taquito Salad (Dos Locos Salads) Cheesy Quesadilla Salad (Dos Locos Salads)
Double Chicken Avocado Salad (Pollo Fit Menu) The World's First Keto Burrito (Pollo Fit Menu)
Original Pollo Bowl (Bowls) Double Chicken Bowl (Bowls)
Original BRC Burrito (Burritos) Chipotle Chicken Avocado Burrito (Burritos)
Chicken Taco Al Carbon (Street Tacos) Street Corn Chicken Street Taco (Street Tacos)
Two Legs (Kids Meals) Mac & Cheese Chicken Taco (Kids Meals)
Broccoli (Sides) Macaroni & Cheese (Sides)
Gold Peak Fresh-Brewed Unsweetened Iced Tea (Drinks) Barq’s Root Beer (Drinks)

Most Nutritious Option

If you’re looking for the healthiest meal at El Pollo Loco, the double protein avocado Pollo Fit bowl’s fresh ingredients and nutrition profile make it the best choice.

Items may not be available at all locations, and the menu may be regularly updated to remove items, or add items not seen below. Nutrition information is available at El Pollo Loco's website, and allows you to see how the nutrition profile changes if you customize your order (for example, skipping cheese or adding avocado).

Tostada Salads

El Pollo Loco offers two tostadas: classic and double chicken. Both contain a medley of lettuce, salsa, sour cream, avocado, rice, beans, cheese, and chicken in a fried tostada shell.

✓ Classic Chicken Tostada Salad

The classic chicken tostada salad contains 840 calories, 42g fat, 112 saturated fat, 74g carbohydrates, 41g protein, and 1,390mg sodium. With pinto beans, rice, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, and chicken breast, this salad comes loaded with protein and even boasts 6g of fiber.

You can also significantly reduce the fat and calories you consume if you skip eating the fried tortilla bowl. Without the tortilla shell, the salad comes in at 410 calories, with 13g fat and 6g saturated fat (while still providing 34g protein and 4g fiber).

✗ Double Chicken Tostada Salad

The Double Chicken Tostada Salad contains everything the original has but with twice the amount of chicken. It contains 1010 calories, 50g fat, 13g saturated fat, 76g carbohydrates, 65g protein, and 1,680mg sodium.

Doubling up on chicken means doubling up on cholesterol and sodium, which is why the double chicken bowl is the least nutritious of El Pollo Loco’s tostadas. Omitting the fried tostada shell cuts many of these nutrients in half.

Chicken Meals

El Pollo Loco is famous for its fire-grilled chicken meals. Customers can order single pieces of chicken (breast, wing, leg, or thigh) or make it into a combo complete with rice, beans, and tortillas. 

✓ Fire-Grilled Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is a classic source of lean protein, and El Pollo Loco allows you to order a single fire-grilled chicken breast. Each piece contains 200 calories, 8g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g carbohydrates, 34g protein, and 820mg sodium. It also contains 120mg of cholesterol per serving. This is a popular option for low-carb diets.

✗ 4-Piece Chicken Meal 

The 4-piece chicken meal includes four pieces of chicken, a side of rice, a side of beans, and a side of tortillas. Depending on the type of chicken you choose, your meal may tally 1,100calories, 43g fat, 11.5g saturated fat, 85g carbohydrates, 97g protein, and 2,830mg sodium (and that's just for the chicken, not the sides). These meals are also high in cholesterol. For a similar meal with fewer calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol, opt for a two-piece meal.

Dos Locos Salads

For diners looking for a vegetable-forward meal option, El Pollo Loco offers three Dos Locos salads. Each features a protein—chicken—as well as cheese, salsa, and avocado, served on a bed of greens.

✓ Chicken Taquito Salad

The chicken taquito features four small taquitos served alongside a salad with chicken, guacamole, cheese, salsa, and greens for 530 calories, 23g fat, 8g saturated fat, 45g carbohydrates, 42g protein, and 970mg sodium. Omit the taquitos and the entire meal will be 270 calories, 13g fat, 6g saturated fat, 11g carbohydrates, 30g protein, and 650mg sodium.

✗ Cheesy Quesadilla Salad

The cheesy quesadilla salad comes to 830 calories, 40g fat, 19g saturated fat, 49g carbohydrates, 73g protein, and 1,670mg sodium. This calorie- and sodium-packed lunch can be split into two separate meals—save half and eat later for dinner.

If looking for another option, the unwrapped burrito Dos Locos salad offers similar flavors (sans the quesadilla) but for about 130 fewer calories.

Pollo Fit Menu

Anyone who follows a low-calorie diet will appreciate El Pollo Loco’s dedicated section of Pollo Fit options. This section contains various bowls, soups, wraps, and salads.

✓ Double Chicken Avocado Salad

While some salads contain far more than 500 calories due to the dressing and toppings, the double chicken avocado salad is a lower-calorie, high-protein option. The salad contains 350 calories, 12g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 12g carbohydrates, 51g protein, and 820mg sodium.

Choose the Mexican vinaigrette for an additional 170 calories and 390mg sodium, or the creamy cilantro dressing for 120 calories and 200mg sodium.

✗ The World's First Keto Burrito

El Pollo Loco has billed its keto-friendly burrito as the "World's First Keto Burrito," and it features super greens, red cabbage, avocado slices, pico de gallo, chicken, cojita cheese, and a creamy cilantro dressing in a "keto flour" tortilla. While packed with vegetables, it also is the highest-sodium dish on this part of the menu (but still lower than some dishes on the full menu).

In total, the keto burrito provides 510 calories, 28g fat, 7g saturated fat, 32g carbohydrates, 52g protein, and 1,500mg sodium.

Bowls

Burrito bowls are a healthy way to enjoy Mexican-style food without the added carbohydrates and calories from tortillas. El Pollo Loco has several bowls to choose from made with a base of classic ingredients like beans, rice, salsa, and avocado.

✓ Original Pollo Bowl

Featuring rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo salsa, diced onion, cilantro, and chopped chicken breast, the original pollo bowl is the healthiest option at El Pollo Loco. This is because of the impressive nutrition facts. Each bowl contains just 550 calories, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 81g carbohydrates, 38g protein, and 1,660mg sodium. You can reduce the sodium by omitting the chicken.

✗ Double Chicken Bowl

Doubling up on chicken means doubling up on cholesterol and sodium, and the addition of the cheese, sour cream, and avocado increases the calories, which is why the double chicken bowl is the least nutritious of El Pollo Loco’s bowls. It contains 890 calories, 30g fat, 12g saturated fat, 86g carbohydrates, 70g protein, and 2,160mg sodium.

Burritos

Burritos are an important part of the El Pollo Loco menu. Like tacos, burritos are a classic Mexican-style food. The menu has seven core burritos to choose from, including a vegetarian-friendly option.

✓ Original BRC Burrito

The original BRC burrito (you can also find it on the extras menu) contains the simplest ingredients with just rice, beans, and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. Each burrito contains 400 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 62g carbohydrates, 13g protein, and 940mg sodium. Omitting the cheese makes this a cholesterol-free option.

✗ Chipotle Chicken Avocado Burrito

Of all El Pollo Loco’s burritos, the chicken chipotle avocado burrito is the highest in calories and cholesterol. Each burrito contains 950 calories, 41g fat, 16g saturated fat, 85g carbohydrates, 41g protein, and 2,260mg sodium sodium. It also contains 210mg of cholesterol per serving.

Street Tacos

With El Pollo Loco’s mix & match street tacos, you can order one or more tacos a la carte. You can choose between corn and flour tortillas as well as fillings like chicken, salsa, lettuce, avocado, and more. The options also include menu items for people following a keto or vegetarian diet.

✓ Chicken Taco Al Carbon

The various tacos are similar in nutrition profiles, but the chicken taco al carbon is the lowest in calories and cholesterol. Each serving contains 170 calories, 5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 17g carbohydrates, 15g protein, and 250mg sodium per taco. Or swap your chicken for Baja shrimp to save on calories, sodium, and cholesterol.

✗ Chicken Avocado Street Taco

The chicken avocado street taco provides more calories and sodium. Each serving contains 320 calories, 18g fat, 6g saturated fat, 19g carbohydrates, 23g protein, and 800mg sodium. You can also swap Baja shrimp for the chicken in this taco for a pescatarian option.

Kids' Meals

El Pollo Loco is a family-oriented restaurant, which explains its selection of kids' meals. Kids can choose from burritos or chicken legs with side and drink.

✓ Original BRC Burrito

The original BRC burrito kids meal contains the original BRC (or beans, rice, and cheese) burrito for 400 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 62g carbohydrates, 15g protein, and 940mg sodium. To maximize nutrition on a kids' meal, choose corn, broccoli, or coleslaw for the side, and skip soda and fruit punch for the drink.

✗ Two Legs Meal

The kids' two legs meal is a smaller version of El Pollo Loco’s full-size chicken meals. Before adding in any nutritional value from the side and drink, the serving of the two chicken legs contains 440 calories, 30g fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g carbohydrates, 46g protein, and 1,520mg sodium. That's more than the recommended daily amount of sodium for adults.

Sides

El Pollo Loco has an extensive selection of sides ranging from fries, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, coleslaw, and more. The most nutritious options are those highest in veggies while the least nutritious options tend to be fried or high in fat and sodium.

✓ Broccoli

You can’t go wrong when ordering a side of broccoli. Mixing this in with your burrito bowl is a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. A small side of broccoli contains 30 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 6g carbohydrates, 2g protein, and 30mg sodium. The Loco side salad, coleslaw, and cilantro lime cauliflower rice are also great sides to meet your daily vegetable needs.

✗ Macaroni & Cheese

Though the majority of El Pollo Loco’s menu is Mexican-style, they have some classic American offerings. The macaroni and cheese comes in as the least nutritious side with 310 calories, 19g fat, 10g saturated fat, 25g carbohydrates, 9g protein, and 870mg sodium per a small side. The mashed potatoes with gravy are also high in calories and sodium.

Drinks

Visitors can choose from more than a dozen drinks at El Pollo Loco. Offerings include carbonated drinks, unsweetened and sweetened tea, horchata, fruit punch, water, and more. 

✓ Gold Peak Fresh-Brewed Unsweetened Iced Tea

While ordering water is a great way to stay hydrated without consuming extra calories and sugar, if you want a little extra flavor, opt for the Gold Peak fresh-brewed unsweetened iced tea. A 10-ounce cup will deliver 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g protein, and 0mg sodium.

✗ Barq’s Root Beer

Many of El Pollo Loco’s fountain drinks are high in sugar with more than 40g sugar per serving. Among the options, Barq’s root beer contains the most sugar with 50g per 13.4 ounces. A small (13.4 oz) root beer also contains 180 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 50g carbohydrates, 0g protein, and 40mg sodium.

Diet-Specific Options

El Pollo Loco's varied and customizable menu has items for diners following gluten-free, low-carb, low-FODMAP, diabetes-friendly, low-fat, low-sodium, vegetarian, and vegan diets. f you follow a specific diet, here is how to navigate the El Pollo Loco Menu.

Gluten-Free

Though Mexican-style food is traditionally served with flour tortillas, this is not compliant on a gluten-free diet. El Pollo Loco offers several sides and salads that do not contain gluten on their menu. However, they do not guarantee that your meal will not contain gluten since cross-contamination is possible. A meal with a fire-grilled chicken breast and a side of rice and beans is one nutritious gluten-free option.

  • Fire-grilled chicken wing, leg, thigh, or breast
  • Mexican Cobb Salad with dressing (chicken or shrimp)
  • Ultimate Double Chicken Salad
  • Avocado Salad
  • Corn

Low-Carb

El Pollo Loco offers The World’s First Keto Taco, using a keto-friendly tortilla. You can also choose tortilla-free low-carb classics like grilled chicken breast, salad, and broccoli.

  • The World’s First Keto Taco
  • Fire-grilled chicken wing, leg, thigh, or breast
  • Loco Side Salad
  • Broccoli
  • Guacamole

Low-FODMAP

The low-FODMAP diet is designed to alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When ordering at El Pollo Loco, avoid menu items that contain rice, beans, onions, and lactose-containing cheese. You may need to get creative and make your own bowl with low-FODMAP ingredients including lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and chicken or shrimp.

  • Fire-grilled chicken wing, leg, thigh, or breast
  • Broccoli
  • Corn tortillas
  • Baja shrimp

Diabetes-Friendly

People who follow a diabetes-friendly diet often opt for low-carb options to balance blood sugar. The diabetes-friendly options at El Pollo Loco overlap with the low-carb or keto-friendly options. A simple meal of grilled chicken with beans, rice, and veggies may be preferable.

  • The World’s First Keto Taco
  • Fire-grilled chicken wing, leg, thigh, or breast
  • Loco Side Salad
  • Broccoli
  • Guacamole

Low-Fat

El Pollo Loco has just a few low-fat options. For a full meal, the Original Pollo Bowl will fill you up while staying low in fat. For a snack, consider the fire-grilled chicken leg for a low-cholesterol, low-fat option.

  • Chicken-less Pollo Taco
  • Original Pollo Bowl
  • Fire-grilled chicken leg
  • Rice and beans

Low-Sodium

Low-sodium offerings at restaurants are hard to come by. El Pollo Loco is no exception. If you’re watching your sodium intake, opt for a chicken leg and side salad.

  • Fire-grilled chicken leg
  • Black beans
  • Coleslaw
  • Loco Side Salad
  • Tortilla chips (side portion size)

Vegetarian

Mexican-style food is often vegetarian-friendly, so it’s no surprise that El Pollo Loco has meal and side options for vegetarians. The original BRC burrito is likely the most filling, and it’s the highest in protein.

  • Avocado Street Taco (without chicken)
  • Original BRC Burrito 
  • Loco Side Salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Beans and rice
  • Mac & cheese
  • Mashed potatoes

Vegan

Vegans have fewer options than vegetarians at El Pollo Loco because they do not consume eggs, cheese, or other animal products. While the chicken-less pollo is meatless, it contains egg so it is not vegan-friendly. However, vegans can still enjoy tacos, burritos, and bowls made with beans, rice, lettuce, salsa, avocado, bell peppers, and tortillas. The BRC burrito (without cheese) can be a hearty option.

  • Corn and flour tortillas
  • Beans and rice
  • Salsa
  • Chips and guacamole
  • BRC Burrito (omit cheese)

Food Allergies and Safety

El Pollo Loco does not guarantee that any of its menu items are completely free of common food allergens, including peanut, fish, milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, soy, and shellfish. They do offer gluten information for people with allergies to gluten, though they acknowledge that cross-contamination may occur in their kitchen.

In general, El Pollo Loco may be safe for people with allergies to nuts, but many of its menu items contain fish, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. People with these allergies should alert the El Pollo Loco restaurant staff and practice caution when eating there.

People with allergies can make substitutions, such as ordering without cheese or shrimp, to accommodate their dietary restrictions. However, cross-contamination may occur, so people with severe allergies should take that into consideration when eating at El Pollo Loco.

A Word From Verywell

El Pollo Loco is a popular fast-casual Mexican-style restaurant in several states across the U.S. You may be interested in trying keto- or vegetarian-friendly menu items such as The World’s First Keto Taco. Like many Mexican-style restaurants, the menu items at El Pollo are easily modified to accommodate your dietary needs. 

Though you will find nutrient-dense options like grilled chicken, avocado, and steamed veggies on the menu, keep in mind that restaurant food tends to be high in sodium, saturated fat, and carbohydrates. As always, indulgent foods can be consumed in moderation.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Heart Association. Shaking the salt habit to lower high blood pressure.