Pollos La Carbonera *CLOSED*
606 Fayetteville Road
Hayti District, Durham
$2–$8 per item
Pollos La Carbonera is that bright orange and yellow building you pass right near the Fayetteville exit of I-147. Bull City Wings was its last incarnation, but now it’s a Mexican stand with a drive-through window around the side and another window up front to order from on foot. There are a few picnic tables to sit at that provide a nice view of downtown and a breeze. Carpe Durham had some good comments on the food soon after they opened.
You can only get there by car if you are heading south on Fayetteville on the overpass. There are two drive-thru lanes but use the one on the right–the car on the left side is parked there by one of the employees. Don’t be fooled by the handwritten menu posted by the drive-thru window-they have a larger menu that the cashier will hand over of tacos, tortas, hamburgers with torta-like toppings, quesadillas and sincronizada (the “cheese-covered” section!), gorditas, huaraches, and . . . charbroiled chicken platters! You didn’t notice that “Best Charbroiled Chicken in NC” slogan on the sign, did you?
After trying their chicken taco (in the background), I’m inclined to agree.
It’s definitely great charbroiled chicken, and an interesting change from the marinated chicken common to most tacos. I think the full platter of chicken would be pretty darn good. Both tacos come topped with cilantro and onions, and the taco in the forefront is barbacoa. The meat was somewhat fatty and chewy and tossed in a very light barbecue sauce. Both tacos held up well with only one tortilla to support them. The tortillas definitely seemed fresh and were nicely browned.
I also dug the gordita beneath these copious toppings.
It was at least a third of an inch thick and really tasty. The meat, carne azada, was less impressive as it was still a bit chewy and fatty as it was in the barbacoa version. It had a decent level of spice but not a lot of flavor. The gordita was also topped with beans, jalapenos, lettuce, cilantro, onions, and tomato. Both the tacos and the gordita came with a side of either salsa roja or verde. I asked for the spiciest and the cashier said they were both about the same level of spicy, which I must say, was pretty hot at first but mellowed out after I’d been eating for a while. I would hazard a guess that roasted habaneros were involved in the red one.
Pollos La Carbonera offered all the standard taco-stand meats including lengua, pastor, and chorizo. I can’t remember any of the others, but I do remember that those tortas looked interesting, especially the one that came with an egg as one of the fillings.