Do You Peri Peri?

When you enter Nandos, you'll first notice that it doesn't look like an order at the counter kind of place. The inside decor suggests a pricier menu. It's designed around strong natural materials, including warm wood, and the high ceilings make it one of the nicer places with counter ordering in the area.

However, decor aside, the ordering system is a little convuluted. You are first seated, and then go up to the counter to order, and return back to your table to wait for your food. But patrons continue to come in, regardless of the ordering maze. The credit largely goes to the joint's spicy chicken offerings.

African and Portguese may seem like a strange combination, but Nandos blends the two well. When ordering, you choose your meat, and the essential level of spice in the sauce it is brazed in. The sauces get their kick from the African Bird's-Eye Chili Pepper, and those who order the "extra hot" are urged to "handle with care." The less adventurous can stick with the lemon and herb. If your mouth isn't on fire yet, you can always pour some more heat on from the sauces they have lined up at the condiment bar.

The main focus here is on the chicken, but there are vegetarian options, as well as a steak sandwich. Unless you've committed to a meat-free lifestyle, I'd suggest sticking clear of the vegetarian entrees. Better options can be found elsewhere, and while the spice in the veggie pita was nice, the meat substitute left something to be desired. The "fino" (or deluxe) side orders are a better bet, but require more cash.

819 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

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