OGDEN — When it comes to Mexican food in Ogden, Señor Pollo is a welcome divergence in a sea of sameness.
Jesus Ruiz opened the Mexican grill on the corner of 12th Street and Washington Boulevard in February 2018.
After a rough patch in late 2018 where Ruiz says he lost 40 to 50 percent of his business due to the Utah Department of Transportation’s $3 million reconstruction of the 12th and Washington intersection, the restaurant seems to have found solid footing in Ogden’s thriving Mexican culinary scene.
The restaurant features Mexican cuisine standards like tacos (beef and pork), burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tamales, churros and rice and beans — but also has specialty items like asada fries, roasted jalapenos, grilled corn, pasta and even omelettes.
The establishment is perhaps best known for its whole, grilled chickens.
Luis Mendoza, part of the Señor Pollo management team, said the whole chicken combo meal — which costs $15 and includes rice, beans, macaroni salad and tortillas — is the most popular item on the menu.
Mendoza said readying the chickens is a laborious, time-consuming process and one that occurs every day.
“It takes a lot of preparation, which we have to do every single day,” he said. “You have to leave it to marinate for pretty much a whole day.”
The fire-grilled bird is cooked Sinaloa-style, which includes seasonings like rice vinegar, canola oil, lime juice, orange juice, ancho, paprika, cinnamon, allspice, chile de arbol peppers and ground cloves of garlic.
Mendoza said the restaurant has quickly amassed a loyal customer base, with lunchtime and daily specials bringing in repeat business.
“Even during the construction, we had the (regular customers) coming in and starting to build up,” he said. “I think people know they can come in and get something really good, but also something different.”
The restaurant offers both to-go and dining-in options, though seating is limited and can be hard to come by during the lunch-hour rush.