El Pollo Rey: A KCK hidden gem offers comforting chicken and a friendly atmosphere


Daniel Sullivan

El Pollo Rey’s simple menu has made it a staple of Kansas City cuisine.

Daniel Sullivan, Contributor

In a city known for its love of barbecue, El Pollo Rey has carved out a niche with its irresistible chicken dishes. The eatery at the intersection of 9th and Kansas Avenue is a must-visit for anyone in search of fantastic grilled chicken.

Upon arrival at the restaurant on a weekend, it was clear that it was a busy location, even past the lunch hour. Most tables were full, taken up by workers with hard hats, grandparents and children. Customers sang along to the music and tapped their feet.

El Pollo Rey is famous for its straightforward, trifold menu. The Half-Chicken, Whole-Chicken and Eight Wings menu has earned a loyal base of customers.

The chicken cooks on a spit, adding to the authenticity of the restaurant. The scintillating smell of the chicken lures in customers who happen to be walking by.

The chicken arrived and cooked to a perfect tenderness. The sides complimented the meal. The flavors of the sides are spicy enough to please those with a preference for spicy food. As someone who abstains from spice, the meal did not overwhelm me. For such a small price, the half-chicken ($8.75) and the wings ($8) covered two dinner with leftovers for the next day.

An essential quality of a successful restaurant is a smiling, helpful staff. El Pollo Rey’s staff goes above and beyond. The food came out in under half an hour. Jokes flew between regular customers and the cooks behind the counter. The cashier who rang up our order took genuine interest in where we were from and how we found out about them. The humanity shown by the staff adds to the home-style feel of the restaurant.

El Pollo Rey has also garnered a reputation of giving back to the community. The restaurant feeds the homeless of the neighborhood free of charge.

The restaurant is also a participant in the new KCK Taco Trail program. Users can sign up for free and earn points when they visit various historic restaurants around the KCK area.

The food is excellent, the service is friendly and the atmosphere is lively and inviting. It’s no wonder that customers are willing to drive long distances to eat here – it’s well worth the trip.