Amuse-Bouche: Pollo el Provocon


When it comes to food, I like what I like. On Sundays, that means I’m diving into a stack of chocolate chip pancakes at 2 p.m. at the Ratty. On a Friday night, that means heading to Jo’s in the quesadilla line. All those other times I’m hungry, though, I’m less energized. For those of us who aren’t inspired by Brown’s buffet lines, venturing away from campus and even off the Hill to grab some grub may seem like a must. After three weeks of living off salad bars and sandwiches, I found myself longing for something a bit more authentic. Specifically, Hispanic food. No, not Doritos and those glorified stuffed tortillas you find on Thayer. Rice and beans, paella, yucca, platanos, and the works. After searching “hispanic food” and “where can I get rice and beans in providence, ri” a few times, it became clear that there was only one place to go. West End.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about exploring Downtown. Walking to Providence Place, checking out WaterFire, and interacting with the strange interesting people waiting for their bus at Kennedy Plaza is always a good time. Heading to the slightly more off-the-map West End seemed a bit out there, though. Nevertheless, after a misstep on the 28 and a grueling two-mile walk, I found myself at the counter of Pollo el Provocon.

Pollo el Provocon is a pretty tiny, humble looking place. It’s squished between a ton of other similar eateries, but this one seems to be the nicest. The menu is mouth-watering (and also in Spanish, so it might take awhile to read). Finally, I settled on Mofongos con Pollo (basically a large plantain with chicken), rice, and red beans. My friend, on the other hand, opted for Pollo al Carbon (baked chicken) with her rice and beans. At first I was hesitant, mainly because it looked too good to be true. After a few second of awe, though, I dug in. This place is the best Hispanic food any respectable foodie could ask for. Not only is it delicious, but they also give a ton of food to last a few days. Fifteen dollars stretched over three meals is not too shabby.

As far as options, the restaurant offers tons different meats including chicken, pork, and steak. If you’re a vegetarian, you can always go for one of the many meatless sides. The drink options are not as plentiful, but they do have Malta if you’re into that (and regular old soda if you’re not). In the dessert department they had flan, pie, carrot cake, and a few other choices. The ladies that work there are great: super loud, super Spanish, super confused why two tiny college kids were ordering so much food.

So, what’s the final say?

High: The food is damn good. Like damn good.

Low: Unless you’re really into walking through sketchy unfamiliar places, the hike to West End is a bit daunting. (Also, this really creepy middle-aged guy kept hitting on me.)

Bottom Line: However, I say all that to say that my friend and I have decided to go every two weeks because it is that good. And it’s cheap, so it’s right in your (my) budget. Go. Now.

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