El Pollo Loco is the go-to place if you want to satisfy your taco and burrito cravings in the most convenient way possible.
But let's face it.
It can be challenging to eat Mexican dishes when you're on keto as most of their dishes contain a high amount of carbs.
Or so you thought.
We've got some excellent news for you!
El Pollo Loco is here to turn your Mexican keto dreams into a reality. They are one of the first few fast-food restaurants that offer low carb and keto-friendly Mexican dishes. (1)
Not only they will satisfy just your cravings, but will ensure that you'll stick to your keto diet too!
With that in mind, what El Pollo Loco keto dishes should you order? Read on to find out!
How to Order Low Carb at El Pollo Loco
While El Pollo Loco offers keto-friendly options, note that not all of their offerings are suitable for the ketogenic diet.
With that said, here are some of our tips on how to order keto at El Pollo Loco.
Go for chicken dishes.
Most branches only have a small dining space, but the range of dishes you can get is pretty impressive and can get quite overwhelming.
Our tip is simple — stick with chicken.
Aside from the fact that the fire-grilled chicken is the EL Pollo Loco's signature dish, chicken dishes offer a lower amount of carbohydrates than their counterparts.
If you're worried about the chicken's texture is dry, we recommend going for chicken legs, thighs, or wings. These also offer more fats than chicken breasts, so going for these options can boost your fat consumption.
Add low carb side dishes or extras to your meal.
If you think that the chicken entrees alone won't satisfy you or can get a little boring, you should take advantage of the low-carb extras that they have.
How do you do it?
You can always add a slice or two of bacon to make your meals more filling!
Additionally, you can make the meal more flavorful by topping it off with their Guacamole. You can also add other low-carb salsas or dips. We'll share what your options are in the next few sections!
Shy away from the breading.
The crunchiness of the breading certainly adds more texture to their dishes. However, this adds more carbs too.
That's why you should stay away from anything breaded and opt for their fire-grilled meats instead. You won't surely regret it since their fire-grilled dishes are what they are known for.
Ditch the shell.
Same with breading, the shell (regardless if it's soft, hard, or toasted) can also boost the dish's carbohydrate content.
Isn't ordering a taco without taco a bit weird? What will hold all the ingredients together?
We have a keto-friendly alternative — lettuce!
Not only will this help you to enjoy your low-carb taco, but this switch will also help you get some fiber which is always a good thing when on a keto diet.
Hold the sauce.
Most fast food sauces are laden with carbs, so you may want to hold the sauce to keep the meals low carb.
Know the dish's nutrition content.
When it comes to maintaining a keto diet, you should avoid estimating the dishes' nutrition content.
The good news is they have a complete nutrition guide for all of their offerings on their site (2). Make sure to check it out before ordering!
El Pollo Loco Keto Offerings That You Need to Try
Here's our little surprise for you.
El Pollo Loco has what they call the Pollo Fit Menu. The Pollo Fit Menu comprises keto-friendly/ certified dishes and bowls that you can order without any tweaks.
Some of the dishes on this menu are also Paleo-friendly!
Here you go.
El Pollo Loco Keto Taco
Yes! There's a "keto taco" at El Pollo Loco!
They are the first ones to create the world's first keto taco, and this is the best option that you have if you want to satisfy your taco cravings.
Same like the other tacos, this keto taco has chopped chicken, avocado, shredded lettuce topped with their creamy cilantro dressing, and pico de gallo salsa shredded Jack Cheese.
What makes it different is everything is wrapped in a 5-inch lean flour tortilla that's not just low carb but high fiber as well. The taco is not just keto-certified but gluten-free.
El Pollo Loco Keto Taco Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 260
- Net Carbs: 4 grams
- Fats: 17 grams
- Protein: 18 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
El Pollo Loco Keto Burrito
EL Pollo Loco didn't stop at just making a keto taco.
They've decided to take their healthy offerings to a whole new level by offering a keto burrito. Again, this is the world's first keto burrito!
They used the same low-carb and high-fiber tortilla. But of course, the fillings are different.
For the burrito, the fillings are chopped chicken, cotija cheese, red cabbage, organic spinach, avocado slices, creamy cilantro dressing and pico de gallo.
As compared to the taco, this has a higher amount of fiber but also higher net carbs. Since it has more fillings, it has almost twice as much as the protein and fat content of their keto taco.
El Pollo Loco Keto Burrito Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 450
- Net Carbs: 11 grams
- Fats: 28 grams
- Protein: 35 grams
- Fiber: 21 grams
Pollo Fit Double Chicken Avocado Bowl
This is one keto-friendly bowl that you can try if you want something light yet satisfying your belly.
The bowl contains just about everything you need in a full meal—a double serving of fire-grilled chicken breast, lettuce, organic spinach, queso fresco, avocado slices, and a blend of red cabbage and carrots.
Double Chicken Avocado Bowl Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 510
- Net Carbs: 10 grams
- Fats:33 grams
- Protein:41 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
Pollo Fit Double Protein Avocado Bowl
Here's another keto-friendly bowl that won't just satisfy your taste buds but fill you up as well!
This Pollo-fit bowl contains a double serving of chopped chicken breast, organic super greens, lettuce blend, cilantro lime cauliflower rice, avocado slices, pico de Gallo salsa, and queso fresco.
Pollo-fit Double Protein Avocado Bowl Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 390
- Net Carbs: 9 grams
- Fats: 16 grams
- Protein: 51 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Your next best option is to swap the dish's dressing to this.
This dressing will add more flavor to any dish. The good news is it only has 2 grams of net carbs per serving.
But if the dish that you have chosen already has sour cream or other types of dressing, you may want to skip this added carb.
Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
If you don't find the tostadas or tacos to be filling without their shells, you can add cauliflower rice.
A small cilantro cauliflower rice has total carbs of 5 grams and net carbs of 3 grams. On the other hand, the large serving has total carbs of 14 grams and net carbs of 8 grams.
El Pollo Loco Meals That Can Be Keto When Tweaked
Aside from their keto-friendly offerings, you can also have a taste at their regular menu. However, most of these need a few modifications to be keto-friendly.
Here are the tweaks that you should know.
Double Chicken Avocado Salad
If you want something a bit lighter and has fewer calories, the best option is to order a salad.
We recommend the double chicken avocado salad because aside from veggies. This dish also contains a double serving of chicken, giving you the proteins and fats you need to stay full for longer.
This keto-certified salad includes chopped chicken breasts, avocado slices, cotija cheese, cilantro, pico de gallo salsa, and sour cream.
The Keto Tweak: Ask them to hold on to the creamy cilantro dressing (as it adds 2 grams of carbs) and the corn to ensure that it's low carb.
Double Chicken Avocado Salad Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 3
- Net Carbs: 7 grams
- Fats: 15 grams
- Protein: 39 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
2-Piece Chicken Meal
You'll never go wrong with El Pollo Loco's fire-grilled chicken.
However, their fire-grilled chicken meals usually come with rice, tortilla, and your choice of sides.
While the chicken itself can be keto-friendly, the addition of rice and tortilla will increase your carb consumption. Your choice of side dish will affect it too.
The Keto Tweak: Ditch the tortillas and rice. Instead, ask for a broccoli side dish.
If you want to keep the carbohydrate content as low as possible, opt for a chicken breast and thigh.
2-Pc Chicken (Breast and Thigh) + Steamed Broccoli Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 460
- Net Carbs: 4 grams
- Fats: 24 grams
- Protein: 69 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
Yes, you can enjoy El Pollo Loco's nachos too, even on keto. But as mentioned, you need to make the necessary tweaks to lower their net carbs.
The Keto Tweak: Ask them to remove the tortilla chips to reduce carbohydrates and pinto beans to minimize your caloric intake.
Instead, ask for more shredded lettuce in place of the nachos.
Don't forget to ask for a fork to make your life easier eating that keto-friendly nachos :).
Chicken Nachos Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 180
- Net Carbs: 4 grams
- Fats: 15 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
Baja Shrimp Tostada Salad
Of course, you can eat shrimp in El Pollo Loco, too, even when on keto.
The shrimps' calorie content is slightly higher than that of chicken, but it still perfect for the keto diet.
The problem you'll encounter with the Baja Shrimp Tostada Salad is it has rice, pinto beans, and tostada, ugh... That's a lot of carbohydrate content.
The Keto Tweak: Skip the beans, rice, and shell to make the dish low carb.
If you wish to make the dish a lot tastier, you can ask for extra avocadoes or a guacamole side.
Baja Shrimp Tostada Salad Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 240
- Net Carbs: 5 grams
- Fats:18 grams
- Protein: 14 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
Double Chicken Tostada Salad
This one is similar to the Double Chicken Avocado Salad, but it uses shredded Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.
The Keto Tweak: Order this tostada salad without the fried tostada shell, pinto beans, and rice to cut down on carbs.
Double Chicken Tostada Salad Nutrition Facts:
- Calories: 380
- Net Carbs: 5 grams
- Fats: 18 grams
- Protein: 49 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Loco Side Salad
This is a blend of shredded lettuce and red cabbage with a sprinkle of cheese. However, it has creamy cilantro dressing and tortilla strips that deliver extra carbohydrates.
The Keto Tweak: Skip the tortilla chips and the creamy cilantro dressing.
El Pollo Loco Meals to Avoid When on Keto
Certainly, there are those dishes that will never be suitable for keto, no matter how many tweaks you make.
The to-avoid list includes:
- Chicken Tamale (210 calories, 16 grams total carbs, and 14 grams net carbs)
- Chicken Taco al Carbon (140 Calories, 17 grams total carbs, and 16 grams net carbs)
- Chicken Taquitos (120 Calories, 17 grams total carbs, and 16 grams net carbs)
Since you're on a keto diet, you would have to remove the tortilla and eat the quesadilla's fillings by themselves which may not be enough for a meal.
If that's the case, it will make sense to order salad or tostadas (minus the tostadas).
With their Pollo Fit Menu, there's no doubt that El Pollo Loco is one of the best fast-food to go to when you're on keto, and they are expanding their menu for more healthy food dishes.
Aside from the dishes in their Pollo Fit line, remember that El Pollo Loco allows you to carry out modifications on your orders.
This should help you turn most of their dishes into low-carb treats and ensure that the net carbs are within your keto limitation.
In addition to monitoring your macros, you can also take few supplements to ensure that you're getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in case you are restricting too hard on your diet.