Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I'd been meaning to try Nando's ever since Andree raved about it on her blog, are u gonna eat that?. Now that I work only minutes away (for at least half the week anyway), I had no excuse, so a few weeks ago I went with my old high school friend/new semimonthly lunchmate Roger.
Nando's is a casual dining restaurant chain that started in South Africa in the late 80's, serving Portuguese/Mozambique-inspired chicken. Its claim to fame is its spicy marinade and sauces, made from the African bird's eye chili, otherwise known as peri-peri. Nando's is most well known in South Africa, Australia and Britain, but it also has locations in India, Bangladesh, Mauritius, US and of course, Canada.
Nando's Calgary is housed in what appears to be a former Pizza Hut (based on its uniquely shaped roof), but inside, the decor is classy but cozy, with lots of booths available. As soon as you walk in, you are faced with the decision of what to order - you can get any amount of chicken, from quarter to whole, as well as wings, kebabs, sandwiches, pitas, wraps and... grilled chicken liver on a bun. Then you choose what heat level you want, from medium to hot, or if you can't handle any heat... lemon and herb is for you. Nando's also offers combos, which pairs some of their mains with one or two "sidelines", as well as sharing platters for up to six people. (So much decision making!)
Roger and I both went for the aforementioned meals for one - I had the quarter chicken with tossed salad ($10.50), and since Roger is a baller he chose the most expensive meal - a half chicken with Spiced Rice and Peri Potato Wedges ($15). Roger is known in our circles as one who can't tolerate spice, but he has been working hard and he decided to brave the "Medium" while I had "Hot". After you place your order, you are given a number to take to your table, and we didn't have to wait very long for our food to arrive.
OK, I will stop embarrassing my friends now.
It was only after we sat down that we realized that there was more peri-peri sauce at the table, so you can further control the heat of your chicken and sides.
The chicken was nicely spiced - garlicky, smoky, with a hint of heat. Next time, I may step it up to extra-hot, or perhaps see what the sauces at the table are like. My chicken breast was a little overdone and dry; I am a thigh girl anyway, and it was only after that I realized that they do offer a bottom quarter chicken (leg and thigh), just not as a meal (what?). But, if I'd gotten that and a salad separately, it would've been cheaper anyway! Roger liked his chicken as well, but was less impressed by the sidelines - the Spiced Rice was essentially yellow instant rice with some spice sprinkled on top, and the potato wedges were just cooked from frozen with the same spice sprinkled on top. Still, we ate all the potato wedges, and I finished my salad.
I would definitely go back to Nando's for their chicken again - I especially want to try their kebabs, and maybe... some chicken liver? On the other hand, the sidelines aren't really worth what they charge ($3.50 for a regular portion, $6.50 for a large), but sometimes, I just need my vegetables... or potato wedges... They are also licensed, so you can have a beer with your chicken, if you are into that sort of thing.
3333 32 Ave NE
Calgary AB T1Y 6M5
Open Sun-Thu 11:30 AM-9:30 PM; Fri-Sat 11:30 AM-10:30 PM