With much anticipation, the first Nando’s Peri-Peri in Chicago area is officially open yesterday in the West Loop at 954 W. Randolph Street, along what is affectionately known in the West Loop as “Restaurant Row”
Their world famous Portuguese, Juicy, flamed-grilled, chicken that has been marinated for 24 hours is their specialty with some special selection of sauces full of flavors and spices at varying heat levels for your choosing. The quick service menu offers a wide selection from on-the bone chicken breast and leg/thigh meat to boneless chicken breasts each with your choosing of equally tasting side dishes to accompany the main. There is also a wide selection of salads, wraps and sandwiches based on their famous juicy, flamed-grilled, marinated chicken. If you are not in the mood for chicken or don’t eat meat, there are other options like the Rib Eye Steak Sandwich, Portobello Mushroom with Halloumi Wrap, Veggie Burger or the Roasted Veggie Wrap and salads without protein.
Some of the side dishes include: Flamed Grilled Corn on the Cob (available seasonally), Peri-Peri Chips (fries), Macho Peas, Portugese Rice, side cesar salad, side garden salad to name a few.
Dessert offering include: Cupcakes, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, Rasberry Brulee Cheesecake, Chocolate Spoon Cake and Bottomless self-serve frozen yogurt. Which I will have to try on future visits. One can only eat so much in one sitting.
On the visit yesterday, I sampled the 1/4 Leg/Thigh Chicken with sides of their famous Peri-Peri fries and Corn on the Cob. An extra side of garden salad was also ordered with the mean. The chicken could have a bit more marinate and flavor for me as it was brushed with a light coat of the medium heat level sauce. One of the nice things about Nando’s Peri-Peri is that all their sauces are conveniently available at the drink/station condiment counter to bring to your table so that you can try the various sauces and put as much of it on your food as you like or mix and match. I enjoyed using the sauces instead of ketchup or mayo with my peri-peri chips (fries) which also had good flavor on it’s own. The flamed grilled corn on the cob is available seasonally and was fresh and sweet with just enough char and flavoring and it was a full ear of corn — delish!
How it works: You enter this upscale quick food service restaurant and get a number on a chicken stick (or was it a rooster?) for the table number you will be sitting at, then you go to the counter to place your order. Once your food is prepared in the open kitchen, a friendly staff member will bring it out to your table for you. If you’re order is take out, just go to the counter to place your order. Warning: There maybe a line for the order taking counter.
The atmosphere: The restaurant is modernly decorated with bright floor to ceiling windows that would have a good view of Randolph Street. Tables are made of nice looking woods with modern styled seating. They play upbeat Portuguese music at a comfortable level. There is a cool self-serve new age Freestyle Coca-Cola Fountain Machine for your to have over 100+ drinks and flavoring combinations. The back wall of this drink/condiment station features a wall of sauces while the counter holds bottles of their various famous sauces and salad dressing choices. There is also a self-serve yogurt machine if you ordered that as part of your meal. Silverware, napkins are also available here. Whenever the weather actually warms up here in Chicago (feels like it might not this year Ugh…), they have a nice outdoor patio seating area as well to enjoy your meal.
There might be a wait since they are they brand spanking new to Chicago and have done a great job announcing their opening, but it’s definitely worth a try, especially if you work or live in the area. It’s also easily accessible with public transit via the #8 Halsted Bus and then a short walk from Halsted and Randolph stop or via the Green Line EL Morgan Station which is only one block North of it’s location. If there is a long wait, Grab a cup of coffee or cappuccino from Le Colmbe just next door or do it after your meal if you still have room from the good eats.
I can’t wait for their other Chicago area locations to open soon in Lakeview and Lincoln Park later this summer. I plan to visit often as it’s an easy walk from our West Loop office and a nice healthy lunch option in the area with an upbeat atmosphere.
Address: 953 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607