The story goes something like this: 14th century Portuguese explorers were introduced to the Peri-Peri chili while trekking through the wilds of Southern Africa. Taken by the little chili’s powerful flavor (and, most assuredly, its alleged aphrodisiac properties), they brought it home and began to incorporate it into their traditional cooking. The result? Afro-Portuguese, flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken.
It may have taken another seven centuries, but Nando’s Peri-Peri has finally brought this tasty dish to DC. Already established in over 35 countries, Nando’s has come stateside with its Gallery Place location (and a second soon to follow in Dupont Circle). Using locally sourced poultry that is marinated for 24 hours, Nando’s grills up moist, juicy chicken (either on its own or in a wrap, pita, or sandwich) with a decided kick. We found the Medium sauce hot enough for our tastes—only those with a real taste for heat should brave the Extra Hot. Vegetarians can choose from a variety of fresh salads (the butternut squash and couscous was our favorite), or sample the roasted portabello sandwich, the veggie burger, or the veggie burger pita (all topped with Peri-Peri chili jam). All dishes are best paired with one of Nando’s select Portuguese wines or beers.
Nando’s Peri-Peri strikes a novel balance between fast food and sit down dining—diners are directed to their table where they review the menu, then they order and pay at the counter. Food is delivered tableside by servers (dubbed Nandocas), who also can take orders for dessert, coffee, or drinks. The setting is more upscale than your typical fast food restaurant, featuring an open kitchen and showcasing original art and sculpture from contemporary South African artists. Conveniently located near the Verizon Center, check it out the next time you’re in the mood for a fiery food experience!