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Nando's PERi PERi

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4
  1. Adam Lawrence
    Adam Lawrence
  2. Adam Lawrence
    Adam Lawrence
  3. Adam Lawrence
    Adam Lawrence

Time Out says

A South African chain serves excellent spicy grilled chicken in the West Loop

After an evening out in London a decade ago, my friends and I stumbled into Nando’s, a South African grilled chicken chain we’d never heard of before. It was love at first spicy bite, and since then I’ve also been to Nando’s locations in the DC area, the only U.S. region you could find them until last month, when they started opening Chicago restaurants.

Nando’s opened its first location in the West Loop in May 2015, added one in Lakeview in June, and has another slated for July. This is great news, since the food is just as good as I remembered. The simple grilled chicken is juicy and marinated with peri-peri, a South African pepper that imparts piquant heat before quickly fading. The chicken comes in whole, half or quarter pieces, and you select an additional sauce—medium, hot or extra hot peri-peri, or less spicy mango-lime or lemon-herb—to be slicked on. The heat scale printed on the menu may appear daunting, but neither my date nor I had trouble with the hot. 

The chicken comes with sides, like bright peas mashed with parsley, mint and chile, soft fries with peri-peri mayo and a cucumber salad with poppy seed dressing. There are also salads and sandwiches, like Nandoca’s Choice, butterflied peri-peri chicken breast topped with crisp coleslaw and wedged into lightly seasoned garlic bread.

Although you order at the counter, Nando’s is a step above fast casual, with geometric-patterned décor, a patio and booze. It’s also one of the few fast, cheap places on Restaurant Row, making it a solid lunch or post-bar spot. 

Written by Amy Cavanaugh


953 W Randolph St
El stop: Green, Pink to Morgan-Lake. Bus: 8, 20.
Opening hours:
Sun-Thu 11am-1pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
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