Nando’s Restaurants have locations in 34 countries on five continents around the world, launching in Washington DC on 7th Street, NE in July 2008. Nando’s Peri-Peri’s location in downtown, Silver Spring (924 Ellsworth Dr.) is now open. You can catch a waft of their legendary Flame-Grilled Chicken from the sidewalk passing by. It’s tempting especially when you see there is a line out the door. Hailed all the way from South Africa, Nando’s is like an oral tale through your taste buds. The Portuguese cooking and way of life was changed forever in the 15th century when the Indigenous South Africans introduced them to the African Bird’s Eye Chili or Pili-Pili, which means Pepper-Pepper in Swahili. To the Portuguese, Pili-Pili sounded more like ‘Peri- Peri’ and then the chili became an integral part of their lives. To this day, the Nando’s original Peri-Peri sauce recipe remains a closely guarded family secret handed down from generation to generation. In addition to the chili, Nando’s has incorporated the tale of the Barcelos Cockerel (see photo of ‘The Legend’ in slideshow) into their menus, graphics, and even down to the tabletop, which is adorned by the rooster which symbolizes faith, justice, and good luck.
With new leather booths and banquettes, original imported South African artwork, textured walls, modern lighting and an eclectic mix of global music; Nando’s in Silver Spring is modern yet earthy and serene. Don’t let the modern contemporary decor fool you, Nando’s is very informal and you order cafeteria style. Once you are seated at Nando’s and decide what you want on the menu, you’ll order and pay at the counter. When it’s ready a server will bring your food to your table.
The open air kitchen (see photo) allows guests to see into the makings of their legendary Afro-Portuguese Flame-Grilled Chicken. Always fresh, never frozen, A-grade chickens are butterfly-cut and marinated in a top-secret Nando’s marinade for a full 24 hours to ensure their ‘explosive flavor’. The legendary Peri-Peri chicken is flame-grilled right in front of you and basted thoroughly with your choice of sauce in four different heat levels: Lemon and Herb for beginners and sensitive palates, medium, hot and extra hot for chili enthusiasts. Nando’s Peri-Peri also offers a kid-friendly sweet and tangy sauce.
In addition to the Peri-Peri chicken which can be ordered by 1/4, 1/2 or whole, the menu include sandwiches, wraps and pitas, vegetarian options, and fresh salads. Their hummus with Peri-Peri Drizzle is a signature appetizer (see photo). The Chicken Breast Pita with yellow and red peppers and cilantro is delicious, especially with an optional slice of pineapple (see photo). The Butternut Squash and Couscous salad is also one of their signature dishes with oven roasted butternut squash, red onion, grilled corn, and couscous. Director of Operations, Allan Wollenschlaeger said that, “Butternut squash is on our menu all year round. When it’s not in season we can pay up to $40 a lb.!” I suggested cantaloupe in the summer months instead of butternut squash. It’s a refreshing salad, especially in the fall when we crave heartier flavors, such a squash and pumpkin. Peri-Peri is hot! So to chase that heat, they offer brews from Sagres to Super Bock and multiple wines from South Africa and Portugal.
If Nando’s Peri-Peri doesn’t make you want to pack your bags and take a trip, I don’t know what will! Enjoy the energetic, atmosphere that pays tribute to the flavors, music, art and culture of South Africa all without leaving home.
For more information: www.nandosperiperi.com/
Address: 924 Ellsworth Dr. Silver Spring, MD 20910
Telephone Number: 301-588-7280
Hours of Operation: Sunday through Thursday 11:30am – 10:00pm Friday and Saturday 11:30am – 11pm