Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.
At both Buffalo Philly's locations, wing-eating patrons can choose to toss succulent wings in their choice of sauces. At the Daniel Stuart Square location 9 sauces line up for duty, and at Smoketown Road up to 12 available sauces stand at the ready—including barbecue, teriyaki, Cajun, and lemon pepper. No matter what sauce is chosen, wings come with a dip-ready side of ranch or blue cheese. As the eatery's name suggests, patrons also frequently stop by for photos with the resident talking buffalo named Phil, or order up one of the chicken or beef Philly cheesesteaks.
Originally built in the 1800s as a hog and dairy farm, the historical Russell House was made over in 1997 as the site of Daks Grill. The flagstone-covered restaurant welcomes guests seven days a week, serving up fresh soups and grilling USDA Choice steaks, such as the 14-ounce new york strip and tender 8-ounce seasoned filet mignon. During the warmer months, diners can enjoy their food on the spacious outdoor patio while keeping an eye on suspiciously bunny-like cloud formations.
Traditional Indian spices flavor the tandoori, curry, and rice dishes served at Masala Magic. In the kitchen, chefs marinate boneless chicken in yogurt before sliding the dish into a clay oven, simmer pieces of lamb in a creamy spice-infused sauce, and dunk homemade cheese cubes into buttery makhani sauce. During the lunchtime buffet, patrons can gather curries, veggies, and mounds of rice to pile onto their plates or pour into the motorcycle helmet they prefer to eat out of.
With a vibrant décor featuring more colors than a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper, Zoёs is an energetic and flavorful stop for good-for-you grub. A healthy recipe breathes new life into the Zoёs original chicken-salad sandwich with white chicken on seven-grain bread, while seameat cravers can feast on the Mediterranean tuna pita, stuffed generously with tuna, capers, red onions, olives, lettuce, and tomato (all sandwiches are $6.95). Toastier tastes include quesadillas ($6.95 with $1 extra for grilled chicken), a warm melt of spinach, scallions, and feta; and chicken kabobs ($8.95) skewered with green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and red onions over a rice pilaf and Greek salad. Zoёs also offers salads, side dishes, and the decadent Yaya's homemade chocolate sheet cake ($2 a slice).
Sweet Frog’s frozen-yogurt flavors go beyond the norm. In addition to cookies ‘n’ cream and greek yogurt with honey, the lineup of 75 varieties includes maple-bacon donut, cake batter, and dulce de leche. Patrons can sprinkle on toppings such as fresh fruit and candies, then savor their confetti’d confections in the lime-green-and-pink restaurant. Smiling frogs and funky white hanging lamps give the stores an air of fun, but founder Derek Cha is interested in giving more than that to the community; through Sweet Frog, he sponsors children in need and dispatches frog mascots to those who need encouragement.