This evening, Susan and I tried El Pollo Loco for the first time. We had seen the chain on many occasions during the years when we travelled to California fairly frequently, but we never got around to trying it then. The chain began to open locations in Georgia year or so ago, but none of those early locations were anywhere near us; finally, a few months ago, they opened a location about ten miles from here on Holcomb Bridge Road, so we added it to our "we ought to try that some day" list.
We got some coupons in the mail that made it possible for us to try a variety of items with minimal investment; add that with an errand run that put us in the general area anyway, and that was enough to make El Pollo Loco a go.
I wish I could say it was something wonderful, but it wasn't. None of the food we got was bad, but there wasn't a single thing we purchased that someone else doesn't do better. The burrito was good, but nowhere nearly as good as Chipotle's or Willy's; the chicken was good, but Publix' Chipotle Mole rotisserie chicken is better; the rice was okay, but the Spanish rice at any mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant is better; the beans were adequate, but Chipotle's beans are amazingly good in comparison.
So-so food isn't a problem in itself--it's better to be adequate at many things than to be sub-par at all of them--but when you combine it with a staff that seemed to prefer that no one come in, and a restaurant that was dirty and poorly stocked (no containers for salsa until I asked... twice; no napkins in the dispensers), and the result was a pretty mediocre first impression. I don't foresee going back unless we happen to be hungry, have coupons in our pockets, and find ourselves near another location.