Super cheap fast food without the grease, Nandos serves up great Portuguese chicken in a fun ambience that keeps locals coming back for more.
Nandos is a chain that is almost all over the capital and Croydon is no exception. This version of the chain is similar to all the others, with a simple wooden rustic decor, open kitchens, self service sections and packed to the brim with hungry customers. The venue is big, with lots of tables of different sizes scattered all over the space to cater for the large volume of customers queuing at the door at most times of the day. There’s great Portuguese music playing in the background, which if you manage to hear over the noise adds a bit of Latin flavour to your experience in an otherwise generic venue.
Busy at most times of the day, Nandos always has a lively atmosphere to it. There’s an element of hectic chaos as the waiters hurriedly show you to your seats and your food comes relatively quickly, so you may feel pressured to eat you meal quickly and leave to vacant for more hungry Croydoners to munch on some chicken. It’s a family friendly place, so many parents bring their screaming children to the place to give them a much healthier version of a happy meal. Due to the popularity with groups of teen friends wanting a snack post-shopping/pre-cinema outings, the atmosphere veers on controlled madness at times, but this all adds to the fun of the ambience.
Nandos famous Peri-Peri chicken has become a popular phenomenon; people just can’t get enough of the spicy marinades that flavour the freshly flame grilled chicken. There are three levels of spiciness, plus a lemon and herb version for those with a milder preference. You can choose from every possible cut of chicken, from one quarter for £3.15 to a whole for £10.85, plus chicken wings and chicken burgers. The chicken is always succulent due to the careful grilling and marinating in ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out; they’re tasty for what they are but nothing outstanding. The chicken pitta for £4.95 is an interesting combination of chicken breast with the sweet contrasting flavours of pineapple to bring out the spicy flavour of the chicken.
The sides are delicious and very healthy, with sweet charred corn on the cob for some crunch, chunky chips that are low on grease and spicy rice to add more of a kick to your meal. Veggie burgers and salads are also served for those who have been dragged to Nandos by their chicken loving friends. Desserts aren’t very exciting with lemon pudding, tarts and chocolate mousses served in cute terracotta pots but are severely lacking in flavour. The frozen yogurt is an excellent option as it’s refreshingly light with a hint of sweetness, and the endless refills make it much more appealing too.
The £1.90 bottomless soft drinks are favourites with kids and adults alike, but there are also refreshing fruit juices on offer. The wines are mainly from Portugal, with a couple of South African options on the list too, and they stand up to the strong flavour of the dishes, but you’re better off trying the beers that are all from the Latino world. They complement the spicy flavours of the Peri-Peri marinade whilst quenching your thirst.
The Last Word
A healthy chicken restaurant with an energetic atmosphere that may not be exceptional, but its reliable.