Nando’s Peri-Peri
109 Joppa Road, Towson, MD • 410-832-1380

Last time we had ventured over to the mall in Towson, we noticed a new restaurant coming in, Nando’s Peri-Peri. While it’s now been open quite a while, we hadn’t ventured inside until last week, mainly because on weekends it’s so busy. We were lucky last week and found a quiet time on a weekday evening. Nando’s plays in that space between a fast-food joint and a full table-service restaurant. Much like Pei Wei, ordering is done at the register and a server brings your meals when ready. For those unfamiliar, Nando’s serves South African cuisine, and is mostly known for chicken, with a other offerings as well.

What they are famous for is the fresh chicken marinated for 23 hours in peri-peri (an esteemed African chili) and flame-grilled to order. They serve one-half chickens ($12.75 with one side, or $14.75 with two), one-quarter chicken breast ($8.15 or $10.15), one-quarter chicken leg ($7.75 or $9.75), chicken thighs ($11.15 or $13.15), and boneless chicken breast ($11.75 or $13.75). Peri-peri is mixed with fresh herbs and spices to make a unique taste. There are various levels of heat to choose from – “plain-ish” is the mildest; lemon and herb or mango and lime offers a hint of heat, but not a tidal wave of flavor; medium, as they say, “hits the spot without scalding your tonsils,” hot, which is highly combustible; and lastly extra hot, as described, “like tackling a ferociously fiery dragon.”

Nando’s does serve chicken in other ways, such in wrap form, with prices varying from $9.15 through $16.25, depending on cut of chicken and side choices. There are also salads, and if you are dining with a non-chicken or meat eater, they also serve a Portobello mushroom & halloumi wrap, a veggie burger, and a roasted vegetable wrap. For sides, they offer Peri Chips (a.k.a. fries), Garlic Bread, Portuguese Rice, Coleslaw, Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, and Macho Peas. What makes Nando’s unique from say, Boston Market, besides the spice difference, is that they also serve a wide array of alcoholic beverages.

I decided to order the one-quarter Chicken Breast (lemon & herb) with coleslaw and red skin mashed potatoes, while Nick ordered the chicken thighs (medium) with mashed potatoes and peas. We shared a pitcher of Red Wine Sangria ($15.95). Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals, and I for one was kicking myself for not dining there sooner.

The chicken was absolutely bursting with flavor, the mashed potatoes were not only served hot, they had just the right amount of peppery-taste, and the coleslaw was not overly loaded with mayo. The sangria went down very smoothly. Interestingly enough, I had commented that it tasted very light, but after almost 3 glasses, when I stood up, I was a feeling a bit woozy, so it definitely packed a punch.

Next time you are thinking of dinner and movie and find yourself over in Towson, stop into Nando’s for a bite. No, it isn’t the romantic setting you might crave, but it is lots of fun, with prices that won’t wound your wallet, and good-tasting food that will wake-up your taste buds!