February 13, 2017

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.


Mexico Comes to Main Street

Pollo Bandido Spices Up Downtown.

When we lived in Nashville there was one restaurant – only one – that my family wanted to go to whenever it was time to eat out.  Even though it was seventeen miles away from our house, the answer was always the same. “Lets go to Garcia’s.”

So, imagine my surprise finding out that the owners of Pollo Bandido, the newest downtown eatery, are the same team behind Garcia’s in the Nashville area and the Garcia’s in Brighton Park here in Frankfort.

I recently sat down with Juan Garcia and Roger Herrera to find out more about their new restaurant at 225 West Main Street downtown.  I discovered the ownership team also includes their fathers Francisco Garcia and Rogelio Herrera. “Fathers and sons,” the pair said, smiling.

A few days earlier my father and I had shared one of everything from the breakfast menu. Several of items were things I had never heard of before. I wanted to know some of the secrets behind their flavorful food.

“All the recipes have been in the family for generations,” said Herrera, revealing to me that the delicious creamy jalapeno sauce I’d sampled was something his grandmother used to make. “We’ve been cooking since we were kids!”

“Cooking is not a science. It’s something simple; something natural for us,” added Garcia.

 Speaking of natural I was pleased to learn that all of the ingredients are from the local region. Their meat comes from Lexington and their fruits and vegetables come from Bardstown. Everything in the restaurant is hand crafted and made in house.

Garcia describes the menu as “barbecue with a Mexican flair.”  He was born in Degollado, Jalisco in Mexico. Herrera lived from the age of eight to sixteen in Morelia, Michoacan in Mexico. So the Mexican flair is something else that’s natural.

When I asked the two where the name for the establishment came they shared their motto. “Flavor so good it will steal your heart.” Their logo features a “bandit chicken” in a mask and cape who, according to the Herrera’s father, “robs your heart and your taste buds!”

I asked what they’re hearing from customers. “A lot of them talk about how the meat just falls off the bone,” said Garcia.

That could be because of the way it’s prepared. They marinate the meat for twenty-four hours.  Then they smoke it for four hours, using either Hickory wood or apple wood. Then they bake it for two hours. And finally they char broil it for five minutes. “It’s a long process,” added Herrera.

The newest hot barbecue sauce they are serving is called “Tropical Reaper.” ‘Tropical’, for the fruit ingredients, and ‘reaper’ for the pepper that is used.

I found it to be delicious, a little sweet on the front end with a nice hot kick on the tail.

Herrera enjoys it on the ribs, his favorite dish at the restaurant. Garcia likes the ribs as well but prefers them with the bandido sauce, which is the House barbecue sauce.

Always a fan of peppers, I learned something about them during our conversation. “When you cook peppers it activates the flavor and makes them spicier!” said Herrera.

Garcia and Herrera both stressed the importance of community in the way they approach the business. “We want to look at the people who come in as part of our family,” Garcia said.

He added that they chose the downtown location because they felt like there were “not enough options for people to eat downtown.” Now, open seven days a week, Pollo Bandido is changing that. 

The restaurant is doing a good sit down lunch business. In addition, they deliver lunch daily in the downtown area. They also serve breakfast and dinner.  “A lot of people pick up food to take home for dinner,” said Herrera.

With so many options, plan to try out this newcomer to Main Street soon; just another of the new businesses making downtown Frankfort special! 


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