‘Watts for Dinner’: Pollo Tropical goes above and ‘Beyond’ with new offerings

Will Watts
The Beyond meat "Tropichop" from Pollo Tropical, South Naples.

For our latest food destination, I did something that I rarely do: I dined off island and at a fast-casual restaurant. What brought me to these extremes? I can’t wait to tell you.

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To date, I’ve reported on the Beyond meat offerings at Burger Fi, Burger King and Dunkin,’ among others. Today there’s another addition to the pack, and this one caught me by surprise.

The roasted pork "Tropichop" from Pollo Tropical, South Naples.

I found it at Pollo Tropical at Freedom Square, near the 951/41 intersection. Pollo is a Miami, Florida-based restaurant chain that specializes in Caribbean cuisine. It was founded in 1988, and the chain’s headquarters are in Doral.

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Beyond was added to the menu on Jan. 3 in the form of a vegetarian “Tropichop” or wrap featuring a “picadillo” made with Beyond Meat. Technically a picadillo is a spicy Latin-American stew of meat and vegetables often with raisins and olives that is commonly used as a filling or served with rice and beans.

Fried yuca from Pollo Tropical, South Naples.

While we didn’t see any raisins, I did spy some olives in the Beyond mix, blended with spices and peppers, tomatoes for a tasty and light (and not too spicy) result much akin to the ground beef you’d find in some of your favorite Latin-inspired meals.

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For those of you new to the “Tropichop” experience, here’s how it works. First you choose your base: white rice, brown rice, yellow rice and veggies, lettuce, mac and cheese, or potatoes. Then you add your protein: chicken breast, crispy “Pollo Bites,” roast pork, churrasco steak or the aforementioned Beyond meat.

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Next up you pick your toppings, as many as you like: black beans, tomatoes, peppers, sautéed onions or kernel corn. You can also add guacamole (a new option) or sour cream, but it will cost you extra.

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Once you get your “Tropichop” you can choose from the restaurants tempting sauces. There’s guava BBQ, salsa, curry mustard, cilantro garlic, hot sauce, spicy “Poyo Poyo,” and BBQ.

A poster announcing the new cheese empanadas at Pollo Tropical, South Naples.

There are some other new items on the menu for 2020. We tried Pollo’s cheese empanadas, made from corn and filled with melty mozzarella cheese. They remind me of Colombian empanadas, except they are much smaller (likely smaller than you’d expect).

Among the new items we didn’t try, the “Grill Master Trio”: which features Churrasco steak with chimichurri, a one-quarter citrus-marinated chicken and a “fire-grilled chicken sausage, served with rice, beans and plantains.

Among my favorites at Pollo, the roasted pork as a “Tropichop” and the fried yuca. Like a potato, this yummy side is an amazing substitute for French fries, but instead of ketchup, dip it in the mojo garlic sauce.

As fast casual restaurant’s go, Pollo Tropical is a step above. Delicious food likely for less than it would cost to make it at home; and that’s not even taking into account the shopping, cooking and loads of dirty dishes.

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If you go

Pollo Tropical

  • 6833 Collier Blvd, Naples
  • 239-732-7878
  • pollotropical.com