A strip mall by the name Cactus Centro which houses a tailor, a tattoo shop, and apparently, a round-the-clock SFPD patrol car doesn’t sound inviting off the bat, but the fumes coming from Pollo Asado are enough to lure both fans and newbies, day in, day out to this bitchin’ roasted chicken shack. A couple of years into its run, owner and cook Ludovico Arizmendi knows he’s onto a good thing. Staunch fans line up during peak hours and Arizmendi tends to them personally, referring to them with different levels of familiarity: Paisano (compatriot) for the first-timers; primo (cousin) for the return customers and pariente (relative) which is reserved for the top-tier clientele. Regardless of your nickname, you’ll sure want to get familiar with the fall-off-the-bone goodness that is Ludo’s pollo—be it in rolled taquito ($6 for six), torta ($6) or sincronizada ($8) form. Those really in the know go whole hog (or in this case whole bird), and go for the “whole chicken dinner,” a paradise of char-grilled poultry parts served on a Styrofoam container that’s paired with rice, beans and a half-dozen corn tortillas. Forget the Colonel and his 11 herbs and spices. On a good day, Arizmendi pulls rank and seasons his with a whopping 14-plus. Someone pin this overachiever’s apron with a five-star general insignia, stat.

Corner of Cerrillos and Siler Roads, 316-4085
Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-6 pm, $6-$18