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.
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.