Wendy and I consider ourselves rather fortunate to live in the city we call home. In our eyes, there are so many different factors that make Old Town Alexandria special, but one of the items that we enjoy, and almost anyone who has enjoyed Old Town can agree with, the nearby dining options are wonderful. Well the good news for us is that it only keeps getting better. This week we welcomed a new establishment to the neighborhood in Nando's Peri-Peri, and Wendy and I decided to check it out.

Back in April we wrote a blog post about the various places in and around Old Town that are more or less reminders of Old Town past. One of the places we mentioned was the old Popeye's Chicken location. It was a dated and dirty fast food chain that did moderate business but looked very out of place given the surrounding establishments.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Yao

Though the Popeye's held on for a long time, it finally closed its doors a little over a year ago. We watched as the interior was essentially gutted and a new business began to take shape.

In our blog post about Popeye's and other area business holdovers, a blog reader and commenter named Lisa Mc (who happens to own the building) chimed in to tell us a little bit about the renovation and what to expect. As the months of construction moved on, we watched as the once dated facade and lackluster interior of the building was transformed into an updated and chic space for a new Old Town restaurant.

As good as the exterior is looking, the interior is pretty nice too!

Last week Wendy noticed the restaurant's soft launch was scheduled for this week, and we made plans for an opening night dinner test drive. If there's one thing we love, it's getting an early peak at the latest goings on in our town, especially when then involve really good looking and interesting renovations.

I'm not sure if you've ever stopped by a restaurant's soft opening before, but it more or less goes without saying that you need to be a little bit kind while the wait, cashier, and kitchen staff works through their kinks. A hiccup or two, perhaps some slow service or a wrong order is pretty par for the course, and it's important to remember this when forming your judgement of the establishment. 

Well, as it turns out, there was no need to worry about these concerns during this soft open. Wendy and I had an absolutely wonderful time, and the staff looked like they had been working together seamlessly. All of our service was prompt, friendly, and extremely energetic.

From our experience, the food at Nando's is simply excellent. Though they are known for their chicken, I was more interested in the vegetarian dishes. From garlic bread to butternut squash, I enjoyed everything that we ordered.

Though I passed, Wendy made sure not to miss out on the chicken and ordered a few Peri Peri wings. She reported that they were rather delicious, and were some of the most moist wings that she had ever eaten.

Obviously we were there to taste what Nando's had to offer, but I was there just as much to check out the building's renovation. Having been in the Popeye's when it was open, and watching the work over the last year, all I have to say is WOW! What a great job they did with the renovation. 

The interior of the restaurant is really cool. The design centers on sustainable and green materials that include various textures, colors, and efficient use of what was already in place, such as the exposed brick walls.

Not only did they completely overhaul the first floor, but the second floor area seems to be perfect for happy hours and hanging out with friends. The whole second floor centers on the open area that looks down over the lower dining area.

In addition to the upstairs seating area, there's also a bar where guests can sit, hang out, and enjoy a drink or two.

There is plenty of seating throughout the restaurant for anything from couples to a handful of friends, and the kitchen area and pass is completely open and in plain view of the dining area. I always like this in restaurants since it always tends to feel a bit more clean. 

The whole idea of Nando's is as a "fast casual" restaurant. You order at the register then they bring your food to you. But both Wendy and I feel like it's almost misleading to label it this way since the food and atmosphere feels far more like a nice sit down restaurant. 

Though we wrapped up our meal with a delicious sweet treat of a few peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes...

...the real treat was noticing this little tidbit on the menu.

Half priced happy hour pitchers of sangria! I have a feeling we'll be spending many a Friday at Nando's hanging out with friends and enjoying some of their delicious Portuguese cuisine.

Today is actually the official launch of Nando's in Old Town, so if you're around and looking for something to eat, you should definitely stop in! Tell the manager, Mike, that Old Town Home sent you. :-)

Have you ever tried out Nando's? This was out first trip but many of our friends seem to love their food. What do you think of their renovation? Is there a spot in your neighborhood that's undergoing a total transformation that you're anxious to try out? We're interested to know what keeps you excited about the area you call home. 

I feel the need to point out that, although this may look like a sponsored post, it is not one. We're just excited to have a new place in the area that underwent a pretty good looking renovation, and you know we're geeks about that kind of thing. Sorry, just felt the need to clearly state that. I mean, we like to think we're reputable bloggers and we really don't want you thinking otherwise.

Comments 12


Jill PP
10/24/2012 at 10:37 AM
Thad and I love Nando's! I had my first Nando's experience in Botswana when studying abroad in college, and we'd regularly eat there when we lived in the UK - it was one of the only places over there where we could find super spicy food :)

We've visited the Nando's in NW near my office, but can't wait to check out this new one closer to home!
10/24/2012 at 11:07 AM
Yep, get your chicken 'hot', grab the 'extra hot' bottle of extra sauce, and you are good to go! Does the new place have bottomless frozen yogurt? The ones in the UK did and it was a great dessert after really spicy chicken and roasted corn on the cob.
I remembered Thad saying he enjoyed it while you guys lived abroad. We'll probably see you guys there.

This one does have the bottomless frozen yogurt, we saw it on their menu on Monday. We also checked our their wall of additional sauces.

I like spicy food a lot, but it makes my nose run so bad that I look like I'm crying, so I'll have to go with the more mild spiciness. Wendy, on the other hand, will surely partake in the hot stuff.
Janet Anderson
10/24/2012 at 11:35 AM
Can't wait to try it!!!
Lisa Mc
10/24/2012 at 12:04 PM
So glad you guys already got to check it out and see the space! Isn't it wonderful? Quite the upgrade from Popeyes! And you're right - the food is really good - lots of healthier options - would make a great "take out" dinner! We dined with the folks from the Alexandria Economic Dev. office for lunch Monday during the soft opening - I agree - the crew was already running so smoothly - and the food coming from the kitchen was fantastic... not sure how they did it - but they pulled it off! If they can keep this up, they're going to become a very popular addition to Old Town! :o)
Ever since you're comment I've been watching and waiting. I think they have a pretty good shot at being in Old Town for a while. It seems like the sort of place I've been saying we need to get more of for a while.
10/24/2012 at 1:56 PM
I think one of these opened in Pentagon City recently! Even though we live in Crystal City, we spend more time out in Old Town. Hope we run into you at Happy Hour Sangria! ...or maybe not. The first time I saw you too was after a sangria happy hour at La Tasca and I'm pretty sure I scared the heck out of you....
If you're planning to spend some happy hours at Nando's, I have a feeling we'll surely see you there. Don't worry, you didn't scare us, we were just happy to know someone out there was actually reading our blog. :-)
10/24/2012 at 2:42 PM
It was really cool to see this post about Nando's. I've tried them only once, and I thought the food was delicious. They are a new client of ours to expand locations in Canada. I really hope they open a location near me soon too!
That's cool that they are a client. We're happy they're here, but we'll keep our fingers crossed that you get one near your house too.
Lisa Schulz
10/28/2012 at 9:41 PM
I hope you will have a ghost update for Halloween, is the peanut ghost still messing with you?
Old Town Home
10/28/2012 at 9:41 PM
Lisa Schulz We've got one in the works for you. Should have it up next week. I'm excited to share it, I feel like it is a pretty good one. The peanut ghost is not messing with us, but we still find peanut shells all over the place. Stay Tuned. :-)
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