Thanks for coming, Popeyes. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, Chick-fil-A. Two of the biggest names in fried chicken did battle last summer over fried chicken sandwich supremacy. While both chains have their positives and negatives, neither comes close to the crunchy, flavorful greatness that is Pollos Las Abuelas.
Matt Reinhart, who served as the executive chef at Snap Kitchen for six years after a career in hotels and restaurants, opened the food trailer in South Austin in 2018. The name honors his two grandmothers, one from Illinois who had a knack with fried chicken and the other from the Rio Grande Valley, and the other from the Rio Grande Valley, whose culinary skills were influenced by her family’s native Mexico.
The Houston native weds their two styles, serving a thick fried chicken breast that’s been brined in a solution that includes buttermilk, vinegar and hot sauce and sandwiched in a floppy Martin Potato Roll hanging on for dear life.
The Original ($8.50) offers an introduction to the Mexican flavors, with cilantro, pickled cabbage slaw, onion and lime mayonnaise, while a shimmer of árbol-garlic oil, chipotle mayo and creamy jalapeño salsa bring heat to the Espicy ($9.25).
Forced to pick a favorite, I’d choose the relatively minimalist, creamy H-Town ($10.25), with its shmear of queso and avocado, as well as ripples of roasted serrano crema, or the maximalist El Martín (served on weekends), with its fried egg and pliant Mexican Coke-glazed bacon.
How did a chef who helped build a healthful chain decide to move onto fried chicken?
"I wanted to cook the food I loved," Reinhart said.
Information: Pollos Las Abuelas. 11444 Manchaca Road. 737-228-7449, polloslasabuelas.com.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.