My review of Nando’s PERi-PERi restaurant in Naperville: back in the land of tender chicken, grilled to perfection

We used to love going to Nando’s when we lived in the UK 🙂 Back in those days we would get in the car and drive downtown to have lunch every weekend. There were many good restaurants in our area, and picking one was always tough. Still, every 4 weeks or so, we would choose Nando’s for one obvious reason: their PERi-PERi chicken! Marinated for 24 hours and basted to our preferred flavor and spice, Nando’s chicken was out of this world. We also enjoyed their “appeteasers,” such as the hummus with warm pitta bread (one of my husband’s favorites) and the spicy mixed olives. The casual feel of the restaurant added to the overall dining experience: The servers were “cool” and attentive to our needs, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

When I left the UK I assumed I left Nando’s behind for good. So glad I was wrong! Nando’s PERi-PERi made its US debut in 2008 and has been expanding constantly ever since. At the moment, it operates 29 restaurants in and around Chicago, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Last weekend I was invited to the opening of the latest addition to the Nando’s US family, in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. All sales generated during the opening weekend were donated by Nando’s to support the arts programs at Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools.

The new restaurant is just like I remember Nando’s to be: informal, welcoming, and relaxed. We were off to a good start!

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This is what makes Nando’s unique: its range of PERi-PERi sauces, in a variety of flavors which reflect Nando’s South-African and Portuguese roots. From mild to extra hot, from lemon & herb to wild herb, these sauces are to be discovered, savored, and remembered. They are made with spices, lemons, onion and garlic, all blended with one special ingredient: the African Bird’s Eye chili pepper.

So, what did we order, and how was the food? My mother and I shared 1/4 chicken basted in lemon & herb PERi-PERi sauce and served with a side of coleslaw. The chicken was just as I remembered it to be: succulent, flavorful, with a delicious charred crust. I poured extra PERi-PERi sauce on the chicken generously. So good!

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I also ordered the chicken “burger” and ate it with lemon & herb PERi-PERi sauce and a side of Portuguese rice. The menu mentioned the chicken would come with a slice of pineapple on top – a combination which made me a bit anxious. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded: the pineapple complemented the chicken beautifully, while the PERi-PERi mayo added creaminess and toned down the heat of the house-made spicy yellow rice.

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My husband is a wings person, so naturally he opted for the PERi-PERi wings basted in medium sauce and served with fries. He loved the flavor and succulence of the wings and declared himself a fan of the fries. Thumbs up from him as well!

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I really wanted to order dessert but our baby girl was getting restless, so we had to leave in a hurry. Still, I couldn’t fail to notice the fresh “naughty natas” (traditional Portuguese tarts) on display at the order counter. Oh well, maybe next time…

I had a wonderful time at the newly opened Nando’s PERi-PERi restaurant in Naperville and I hope to go back there soon. I wish I’d known about Nando’s presence in the US before. Still, late is better than never: Now I know I don’t need to travel all the way to London for fabulous PERi-PERi chicken 🙂

*Disclaimer: Nando’s PERi-PERi provided a complimentary meal to facilitate my review. I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.


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