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El Pollo Feliz caught my eye about six months ago, as I pass by the restaurant every day on my way to work, but what really got my attention is that they have a large, Texas-style smoker in front of the restaurant, belching smoke.  How many Mexican restaurants north of the border use a wood-fired smoker for authentic taste?  Not many... so finally, on September 06, 2012, I was able to pay a much-anticipated visit to El Pollo Feliz, to enjoy lunch.

Photo:  I pass by El Pollo Feliz every day on the way to work, but it's taken me nearly 6 months to finally be able to stop by!  The restaurant is located in a former hamburger joint, and offers plenty of indoor and outdoor dining. Note the "Texas-style" smoker, behind the trash can next to the sidewalk.

Photo:  The format is that you grab a menu - either a large one, or one of those little take-home paper menus - make your choice, place your order, and sit down and wait for your order to arrive.  Unlike many other taqueria-style Mexican restaurants, you don't pay for your order until you're finished, and you aren't served your chips and salsa until your order arrives.  If you crave a beer, look elsewhere, as El Pollo Feliz is "dry" ... soft drinks only.

Photo:  I asked Mina if she'd open the pit for me, and she gladly did, so I could see the ribs and chicken smoking over a mesquite fire.  The pit sits in front of the restaurant, near the sidewalk, and as you drive on busy Watt Ave., you can't miss it.  El Pollo Feliz uses the pit for chicken and ribs only, as the other meat is cooked inside, on the griddle.  Wood-fired pit smokers are a very common sight in Mexico, but quite uncommon north of the border, in fact, El Pollo Feliz, and their other location in Carmichael, are the only Mexican restaurants that I've seen in the greater Sacramento area that use a wood smoker.

Photo:  Chava places my order on the photo and strikes a great pose.  Prior to ordering, I looked over the menu, and it wasn't apparent which items were smoked, so I asked Chava, and he pointed to a section in the menu labeled "Entrees," which features various combination of smoked chicken and ribs.  Since the smoker was what attracted me to the restaurant in the first place, my choice for lunch had to be smoked!

Photo:  Here I am, ready to enjoy a delicious lunch of chicken, sides, tortillas and chips.  Thanks to Chava, who gladly took my photo, and did a great job.

Photo:  For only $4.49, including tax, you get two smoked chicken legs, two side dishes, corn tortillas, a grilled pepper, along with chips and salsa.  The food is good, and it's bargain priced!  Note the beans are plain pinto beans, which is how beans are served with bbq in Tijuana... no kidding!  Beans and rice are offered as sides, along with potato salad and macaroni salad.  Yes, many small bbq and chicken joints offer macaroni and potato salad, but once again, this is a bit unusual for the Sacramento area.  The only downside is no beer is available, but I can live without it!

The chicken, beans and rice I enjoyed at El Pollo Feliz tasted exactly like some of the same items that I've enjoyed during my travels to Tijuana.  Grilling or smoking chicken and ribs is very common in Tijuana, and other Mexican cities, but it's not at all common in Mexican restaurants north of the border.  The mesquite smoke lent the chicken a taste that made me think of Tijuana... I'll be back for more!

El Pollo Feliz
6115 Watt Ave.
North Highlands, CA 95660
916 993-8581

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