Nando’s Peri-Peri Introduces Chicago to Famous Sub-Saharan African Chicken

Known for its 24-hour marinated chicken, Nando’s Peri-Peri is more than just good chicken.

Nando’s Peri-Peri, a global privately held chain restaurant that began in South Africa in 1987, has opened its door to its second American city, Chicago with three location this year.

Each location has an earthy and colorful tone that echos the Portuguese and Sub-Saharan African food it serves.

Nando’s Peri-Peri: West Loop

Nando’s Peri-Peri started its restaurant openings in Chicago with a location in the west loop, a foodie hub with restaurants like Bin 36, which relocated this year from River North.

Nando’s Peri-Peri: Lincoln Park

Then, Nando’s Peri-Peri opened up its second location in the newly developed shopping and entertainment center in Lincoln Park, New City, neighboring other privately held international companies like Earls and the sixth fastest growing American chain according to Restaurant News,  Yard House.  

Nando’s Peri-Peri: The Loop

Nando’s Peri-Peri’s most recent restaurant opening was a few weeks ago in November 2015 in the loop (22 S. Wabash). It is in one of my favorite locations in Chicago. It is a short walk to Millennium Park to the east and to the Trump Tower to the North, and State Street shopping to the west.

Fast Service, Not Fast Food:

Nando’s Peri-Peri is close enough to businesses in the loop to create that long lunchtime shuffle, which would deter busy professionals from leaving their offices. But Nando’s Peri-Peri set up a smooth ordering system during its peak business with extra staff to direct the flow of traffic for a swift and overall well-curated experience.

Set up like other sandwich shops like Panera, customers order at the register and then pick up extra sauces and your beverage at the counter.

“The food is delivered within about 12 minutes [from when customers order],” said Sepanta Bagherpour, Nando’s Peri-Peri head of marketing during an interview with Crain’s Chicago in 2014.

I had dinner with my friend on a Sunday night around 5:30 pm.

When my friend and I came in, it was dead. A few minutes prior, we missed the rush of people.

Dinner: Salads + Peri-Peri Chicken

For dinner, we tried the country salad. It was served with cold peri-peri chicken breast with roasted red pepper, grilled corn, chickpeas, croutons and Halloumi cheese over mixed greens. It was lightly tossed in an herb dressing.

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Country Salad. Photo: Amanda Elliott

We also tried the Nutty Date Chicken Salad. This salad was versatile. Not only did it have shredded Peri-Peri chicken salad, but it also had a real salad with dates and toasted almonds, pickled onions, goat cheese tossed in a honey vinaigrette. To complete the nutty date chicken salad dish, there was pita bread on the side.

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Nutty Date Chicken Salad. Photo: Amanda Elliott

We also had to have the peri-peri chicken. We choose darker meat with the legs and thighs. For our sides, we had mashed potatoes and Portuguese rice.

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Peri-Peri Chicken with mashed potatoes and Portuguese rice. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Everything was brought out together by the wait staff. You could smell the flavor before seeing the food.

Add Some Sauce to the Peri-Peri Chicken:

As a girl who loves sauces, I appreciated the ability to add extra sauce and also experiment with new sauces. Mixing and matching sauces was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience.

The medium sauce had a bit of a kick and the spicy was spicy, but not too hot to handle. My favorite sauce was the lemon herb sauce on the chicken leg seasoned with medium sauce.

Choose Your Beverage:

Beside  being able to take the sauces to your table, another nice feature along with the delicious food, was the soda fountain. You can choose from standard iced tea, fruit juices, and soda flavors or you could creat you own. I tried the cherry vanilla coke and my friend.

 

You can also choose  alcoholic beverages, like South African wine, Portuguese wine, and fresh sangria. The sangria is flavorful with chunks of real fruit in it. It was a nice touch with the spices of the chicken, but I honestly quite enjoyed their customizable fountain drink.

Nando’s Peri-Peri Recommendations:

Nando’s chicken is moist and flavorful.

The portions are fair. Between two people you can split the two quarter legs and thigh chicken and two sides with a salad and feel full.

Personally, the chicken salad is a must. The goat cheese was strong and paired well with the chicken salad.

For a side, I would get the mashed potatoes. However, my friend, who has eaten Portuguese food before, loved the Portuguese rice. P.S. I’m going back for the garlic sticks. You really can’t go wrong with any side options.

For chicken, my favorite was the two quarter legs and thighs. I liked the peri-peri chicken prepared in medium spice and additionally flavored with lemon herb sauce. It was perfect with the creamy mashed potatoes.

 

 

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