Where To Pollo Club on Moody Street, along Waltham’s restaurant row. Open for a month, the sliver of space seats 25 and used to be the likable little taqueria, El Rincon de Moody’s.
Why Because we’d walk a mile for fried chicken, biscuits, deviled eggs, and black-eyed peas. And because the folks who run the spot also own Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions, its adjoining restaurant, The Backroom, and New England Charcuterie, which produces cured meats.
The Back Story Last winter El Rincon closed suddenly. In the spring, Moody’s partner Joshua Smith left the restaurants. The deli and Backroom closed briefly because all licenses were in Smith’s name and had to be changed. Cofounder and owner Dan Revers put Jeff Howe (formerly at L’Andana, Teatro) at the helm of his kitchen team; Alex Hage (Ostra, L’Andana) came in as director of operations.
What to Eat Well, you’re here for the fried chicken and it’s offered in small and large portions, emerging from the fat bath with a thick, crisp coating; the meat is just right. Each comes with a large biscuit and two sauces. Order the popular #7 Hot Sauce and Korean BBQ, but honestly this poultry doesn’t need it. Deviled eggs have delightful light yolks, and a lightly dressed black-eyed pea salad with pickled peppers comes with crusty garlic bread. A rotisserie half-chicken, roasted in a wood oven next door, is a lovely little bird, but pricey (at $23, it’s almost the highest ticket on the menu; other items are moderately priced). Snacks like Gruyère mac and cheese and broccoli fritters offer something for the vegetarians, as do a halloumi sandwich with minted cabbage, and tofu banh mi with tempeh bacon.
What to Drink Cocktails (Solitary Flower with lime gin, honey, lime, prosecco), mocktails (Always All Ways with green tea, ginger, grapefruit, lemon), craft beers, and an intriguing mashup of a wine list with more rosés than whites or reds, a little seen natural Coteaux de Loir (spelled correctly with no final "e"), and a surprising $200 bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée in the sparkling section. By-the-glass pours are $8-$23, bottles are mostly under $50.
The Takeaway The clever logo for the small, sleek spot is a woman riding a chicken with a long fork instead of a polo mallet, which sets the tone for this upbeat storefront. Tiny pendant lights hang from the ceiling in rows and a bar is painted high-gloss black. A wall mural by artist Sam Malpass features a larger-than-life portrait of a woman inspired by actress and singer Zoë Kravitz. Weekends are crowded. Pollo doesn’t take reservations. You can log into a Yelp waitlist on Pollo’s website so you’re not standing on a freezing sidewalk, or pop into the restaurant next door, order a drink at the Backroom bar, and take it into the quiet Moody’s Deli, where the lights are dimmed at night and a few candles add to the mood.
456 Moody St., Waltham, 781-693-9191, www.polloclubwaltham.com. Snacks $6-$11; chicken and sandwiches $9-$28.
Sheryl Julian can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.