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.
Samantha's Restaurant melds a variety of Latin American culinary traditions into a single menu rife with fresh seafood, sizzling fajitas, and stuffed poblano peppers. Washingtonian magazine highlighted the masitas de puerco, a traditional Havana dish of bitter orange-marinated pork, as well as the "peppy mariachi soundtrack" that fosters a lively atmosphere. As appetizers of citrus-and-ginger-infused ceviche disappear like a repossessed magic kit, diners can turn their focus to mesquite-grilled fish or a refreshing cocktail from the fully stocked bar.
Epit-of-Eves makes throwing a party easier through its catering and chef services. Instead of slaving over a hot stove or whittling a toothpick than can perfectly spear a mini meatball, hosts can leave the food prep to the professionals. Catered dinner services provide meals that are customized for each guest, with fresh ingredients grown locally and no preservatives or additives. And personal chefs can cook meals in homes, with customers choosing from a variety of cuisines or requesting a specific meal.
The scents of made-to-order sandwiches first started wafting from the doors of The Woodside Deli in 1947, when it began meeting the lunching, snacking, and catering needs of the residents of Silver Spring. Decades of success saw the business overgrow its original location and expand to one in Rockville, where a restaurant menu offers up chewy bagels, meaty diner fare, and philly cheesesteaks dripping with melted provolone cheese. High Holiday and Passover menus offer kosher treats, and catering services can fill bellies at bar or bat mitzvahs, corporate events, and baby’s-first-tax-return parties.
Using the same recipes they use at home, Herbal Thai’s owners prepare traditional Thai dishes using time-honored family recipes and incorporating scintillating Thai herbs and spices. Friendly staff members plop plates of pad thai and panang curry in front of patrons as fish fillets sizzle under a three-flavor sauce in the kitchen. Twice a month, Herbal Thai’s cooking classes introduce amateur chefs to the process of crafting Thai curry and soup using raw shrimp, vegetables, and mushrooms. During both class and dinner, a panoply of aromas fills the restaurant with the tangy notes of chili-lime dressing and curry powder.
The chefs at each Copper Canyon Grill, a mid-Atlantic favorite, craft their regional American dishes from scratch every day. Their kitchens fill with flames and savory aromas as they roast meats and vegetables over hardwood fires, making customers happy, but leaving behind bare earth at local basketball arenas.
The kitchen yields hearty servings of grilled prime rib and filet mignon, ahi tuna and Atlantic salmon, and Delmarva-style crab dip and Eastern Shore jumbo lump crab cakes. It also tempts with a signature rotisserie chicken and jalapeño- and serrano-pepper cornbread baked in an iron skillet.