I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a bit of a world traveler. I’ve been to Epcot Center. Twice. So you can trust me when I tell you that Nando’s Peri Peri checks a lot of boxes off your World Food Experience map (you’re getting a bit ambitious claiming that airport burrito). Stay with me now.
Although Nando’s itself is still young enough to get carded at bars, the Peri Peri part dates back to the Portuguese landing in Mozambique. The Portuguese began using local peppers in their cooking, but couldn’t properly pronounce “Pili-Pili.”Hundreds of years later, Peri-Peri chicken migrated to South Africa, along with poor pronunciation and the descendants of those food-fusion innovators. And lo, Nando’s was born. If you tell that worldly story to get laid, you’re buying me a drink.
Embrace the spirit of Nando’s South African origin and approach the meal with a sense of ubuntu, the philosophy of focus on community. You can enjoy these dishes individually, but ordering for the table and treating the meal as a shared feast is the preferred way to go.
- In keeping with Portuguese and African influences, the roasted red pepper dip is flavorful but well balanced, so no need to worry about a flare up scaring off the spice averse. The chili and spices create a spicy, zesty finish that takes a few seconds to sneak up on you.
- Order Peri-Peri chicken for the table, in either a quarter-cut or whole bird.Pro-tip: order lower on the spiciness scale to make sure that the heat is within your comfort zone. Extra sauce is plentiful, so you can always dial in the flavor level later on.
- An order of 12 Peri-Peri wings might seem redundant when you’ve already ordered chicken breast, but these birds definitely flock together. These are not the sad, tiny wings you encounter at the local sports bar (seriously, where are all these tiny chickens?). The wings are large and slathered, not drowned, in sauce. Mix things up with the lemon-herb sauce.
- The whole and mashed Macho Peas are flavored with parsley, chili and bold mint which helps cool the heat of the chicken. For something sweeter, try the candied vegetable medley of butternut squash and grilled corn ($3.95, pictured) with red onions, cranberries, cilantro and chili.
- Bring the international meal full circle with either a Portuguese or South African wine.The Adega de Pegoes is a versatile Portuguese white for summer.If you’re in the mood for something a bit further afield, try the Indaba Chenin Blanc, a fruity South African white that pairs well with the spicy and savory options.
Nando’s Peri Peri, various locations throughout the U.S.
Mary was born and raised in New York City where her family owned restaurants. Instead of eating dirt on the playground, she ate duck blood, beef tripe and pork belly. She cut her teeth at The Mandarin Oriental and The Ritz-Carlton hotels, working with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe, LeVar Burton, Jane Krakowski and others. Mary founded Girl Meets Food in 2009 as a cover for her debilitating addiction to fried chicken and was named Washington Post’s “Favorite Local Foodie.” After 13 years in hospitality, she started freelance writing for USA Today, The Washington Post, Eater, Washington City Paper, and more. Today, she provides digital marketing for hospitality clients as a content creator who’s contently creating content.