Nando’s PERi-PERi opened its first U.S. location in 2008, and it’s been taking Chicago by storm in the last couple of years where we now have 6 (4 in the city) of their 31 nationwide locations. It’s partly self-serve in that you go up to order your food, but then you relax at your table and they bring your orders to you. And this is good food.
Nicola is a chef who’s part of the Chicago team – she came here from the original Nando’s in South Africa – that’s kicking things up a notch in the menu department. She recently introduced us to samples of several new Nando’s menu items at the 953 W. Randolph Nando’s. This location, a beautiful combination of indoor and outdoor seating, is like all their locations in that it delights all the senses with not only very enjoyable food but also surroundings graced by unique and colorful artwork and decorations. And on a perfect-weather day in such a setting, these dishes all but sang they were so good, especially enjoyed with a glass of the light red wine recommended by the server.
Mainly featuring chicken thighs – the juiciest part of the bird – along with unique sauces and flavors, each dish was absolutely delicious. The chicken thigh sandwich is chunks of grilled chicken on a simply scrumptious Portuguese roll and topped with their aptly named Peri-naise. Even for non-fans of mayonnaise, that creamy sauce makes this sandwich special. In addition to the poulry, though, there’s also a tangy new quinoa salad that not only perks up your taste buds but makes you feel virtuous for its healthy composition – greens with goat cheese, black quinoa, avocado, roasted squash and roasted seeds with a light, tangy dressing.
When you order the grilled chicken thigh skewers – chicken layered with onion and pepper – you are asked to specify your desired level of spice for the Nando’s basting sauce, from mild to fiery hot. Medium is perfect if you like sriracha. The skewers are nicely grilled, marked with little flags as to spice level, and served with vegetables grilled to crisp-tender and served in a super tasty, light tomato broth/sauce alongside a helping of brightly colored, mildly seasoned rice.
The two new lemonade drinks are totally worth trying out – pineapple and blood-orange/mango. The sweetness (pineapple is sweeter) in each makes a comfortably cooling complement to the spice in the sauces. And they’re just plain tasty, too.
We were already fans of Nando’s; these new items have put us over the top. Extremely good food at reasonable prices in comfortable surroundings – also with good music going on at just the right decibel level to feel like a party but not intrude!