I've never heard of this place before but apparently 'Nando's was born in 1987 in South Africa...From the humble beginnings, Nando's Restaurants have now opened in 34 countries on five continents around the world, launching in Washington DC in July 2008.' Recommended by our college friends we all decided to check out this World Famous restaurant known for its Portuguese flame-grilled chicken.
The bf and I met them down in Dupont by taking the Red Line to Dupont Circle. Our friends parked on the street. There are meters around, however its always a bit of a pain to park in the city. The front has a huge window so you can see the interior and the gold door makes it feel like you're walking into a ultra-chic lounge.
This is the the front room that can be seen through the window. I personally like the exposed brick, tall ceilings and cool artwork. The place has a nice contemporary feel.
Even though the place looks fancy-dancy, its really a laid back place where you order your food at a counter. Here's how it works:
1. Hostess shows you to your table that has a number on it.
2. Decide what you want from the menu and its spice level (we'll talk about that in a minute), remember your table number and order at the 1st floor registers. Utensils and fountain drinks can be obtained near there as well.
3. Go back to your table and your food will be brought to you. There is a tip jar at the register.
There is even a waiting area for those that are ordering their meals to go.
You can see and smell their flame-grilled chicken which is right behind the registers.
On the counter there are bowls of nuts (free) and olives (not free, $3.75), which look really tempting when you're ordering.
Sorry for the blurry pic, but its to show you that there are 2 floors to the restaurant, and we sat on the backside of the 2nd floor.
Ok onto the flavor options. You can choose the spice level of your chicken from Mild (Lemon & Herb), Medium, Hot and Extra Hot.
However if you ordered Lemon and Herb (like me) and felt you could have ordered something with a bit more kick, they have a ton of sauces that REALLLLLY makes this chicken special. They have all of the same flavors you can order on your chicken like Lemon & Herb, Medium, Hot, Extra Hot, plus Wild Herb and Garlic.
The sauces came out of nice glass bottles with a sort of liquor-dispensing nozzle.
Now onto what we ordered! Since there were four of us we decided to get the '2 Whole Chickens + 4 Large Sides' for $42.45. It's a good deal since 1 whole chicken alone is $15.95. Our college friends ordered their chicken Extra Hot, and the bf and I shared a Lemon & Herb chicken. For our sides we ordered(all $3.95 if ordered separately), Garlic Bread, Fries, Portuguese Rice and Red Skin Mashed Potatoes.
The food is really delicious. The chicken is tender and juicy. The mashed potatoes is buttery and smooth. The Portuguese rice has a good amount of salt in it to give it a burst of flavor. The fries were good like normal fries usually are. The Garlic Bread was so good and flavorful with a nice crunch. Everything is good on its own, but a bit more special with the sauces to dip the chicken or fries in.
Another cool feature near the waiting area is a sink for you to wash your hands since the best way to eat the chicken is digging right in with your fingers. They've thought of everything!
I loved this place. There's a ton of room for larger parties, and no hassle with splitting the check at the end of the night because everyone can order and pay on their own. The food is affordable, very flavorful and the atmosphere is really trendy, but its not a stuffy place. The staff was really helpful checking in on us and getting whatever we needed. They offer sandwiches, pitas, wraps and other non-meat items like a Veggie Burger and a Portobello Mushroom Burger, all of which don't cost more than $8. They also have a nice dessert menu with ice cream, cakes and frozen yogurt, which I'll have to try the next time I go there.
1210 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
Sunday-Thursday - 11:30am-10pm
Friday & Saturday - 11:30-11pm