Driving on Vernor with the windows down and this charcoal/chicken smoke aroma hits me very pleasantly. Instant drooling.
Pull in to El Papa de los Pollitos (4047 W. Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI) and there is a massive charcoal grill covered with marinated/sauced chickens and an experienced pitmaster running the show. Go inside and Jenny (cashier/waitress/translator) confirms the specialty of the house is grilled chicken. $6 with one side and a whole with two sides $11. Order the 1/2 with an extra of pintos and 5 mins later magic appears. Two medium containers of very nice rice and pintos with mini-franks that are very good and not the pudding bean variety.
The chicken has been sauced 3-4 times during cooking and then again just before serving. I have tried for years to get my sauce that deep into the flesh and they have achieved it. The hot sauce(not really pico de gallo but rather hot sauce) is home made and really complements the chicken spicing. It is very layered without the overpowering cumin effect and the charcoal smoke is prominent. Jenny says they have a different hot sauce for each type of taco/dish/preparation.
I devour the bird and most of the sides and have to get another 1/2 to go.
They also have tacos (usual suspects) and the menu is whatever Mama has going that day.
The interior is rustic cafeteria but was clean if not polished. There are about 15 4- person booths. They said most of their business was takeout and I saw about 10 chickens go out in my 20 minutes at lunch time.
It's just three people, Jenny, Mama and Armando (pitmaster) so they are only open Tue-Sun and when the biz stops they stop but nice weather lunch or dinner should be no problem. Phone no. is 313 729-0259 to confirm opening and place your order in advance so they hold some bird for you. If they have to cook it from scratch, it's 45 mins.
No alcohol and the private parking holds about 10 cars. I wouldn't call it easily accessible for the disabled. VERY friendly people so if your brown bag had a cervesa in it I don't think anyone would notice.