30 Jan 2014

First Bite: Nando's Peri-Peri at Capital Riverfront

Uploaded to flickr.com by Mr. T in DC

Family-friendly dining options are always welcome in and around the Hill, especially ones that allow you some flexibility of choice, and are able to keep kids busy while mom and dad enjoy dinner. With so much going on in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood these days, it’s great to know we have even more eateries to choose from, especially ones that encourage messy eating. Nando’s Peri-Peri may be a chain, but it provides some pretty healthy quick-service dining alternatives in a world of burgers and fries.

Nando’s Peri-Peri is an international chain of quick-service restaurants that is centered around marinated, flame-grilled chicken basted with a flavorful sauce that can pack some heat.  The writing on the wall (literally– it’s written on the restaurant wall) talks about the spice combination that is used being based in African heritage by way of Portuguese colonies or something or other, but the important thing to note is you can manage the zip and heat of the food by specifying which sauce you’d like on your chicken.  As with many chicken establishments, you can order by the quarter, half or whole bird and ask for one of a number of sauces to be lovingly painted onto her.  There are a number of side dishes to choose from, as well as sandwiches, salads, and snacks or appetizers.

When we ventured over to Nando’s, we each had a half-chicken – one with the lemon-garlic sauce and one with the medium heat sauce: both were tangy and delicious.  (If you want more sauce there is a condiments area where you can lather it all over.)  The minty peas side tasted fresh and healthy – I’m not really a lover of peas but I finished my side.  Garlic bread was tasty, if a bit odd as a side dish.  The chips (fries) were crunchy and well-seasoned, though I would probably not order the “peri-naise” dipping sauce again as it was mostly mayonnaise and the name sounds like an awkward physical exam.

The eatery is kid-friendly, with high chairs available and a set-price kids’ menu that includes an entrée, side dish, and all-you-can-eat soft-serve frozen yogurt.  (Note: the yogurt is NOT spiced with the peri peri blend.) Kids are given crayons and an activity sheet while waiting for the food to arrive.  There’s a sink at the end of the condiment area to wash up before leaving, since the sauced poultry can get a little, well, saucy.  The Yards location was also advertising a promotion on Monday and Tuesday nights where kids can eat free with the purchase of a regular entrée for the parent – check the signs when you walk in.

Nando’s isn’t a JUST a kid’s place, though.  They offer beer and wine, and some of the sauces are mildly explosive in heat.

Service was a little odd, to be honest.  We were greeted promptly and with a smile, then told we could sit anywhere.  When you are ready to order, you go up to a cash register from your table to place your order and pay, and then servers bring your food to your table.  If you want something more as you eat, the servers can process your additional order for you from the table.  Not quite logical to me based on other dining establishments, but it seems to work for Nando’s.

When the weather is warmer, Nando’s Peri-Peri will offer outdoor seating, and it will be a great dinner spot before a Nationals game or a Yards Park summer concert.

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