Our friends at The Infatuation London are obsessed with a chicken chain called Nando’s. So much so that they once told us the following: “Anyone who doesn’t have a go-to Nando’s order is undercover police,” and, “The Queen couldn’t get a Nando’s black card if she wanted one, she’s too lemon and herb.”
We’re not sure what about 40% of that means, but we do know some basic facts: Nandos uses a South African spice called peri peri that’s also popular in Portugal, the restaurant is about as casual as a Panera Bread on Route 17, and it makes hundreds of thousands of families from Johannesburg to Ontario happy every single day. We also know that Frangos Peri Peri, a Portuguese halal chicken spot in the East Village, is absolutely a Nando’s knockoff. And like Nando’s, a saucy chicken experience here will vastly improve any night when you don’t want to spend more than $15 on dinner.
At Frangos, it’s all about the thick, chili pepper peri peri sauce. By comparison, the chicken itself is kind of like a background singer - it isn’t crispy enough to deserve its own solo. But Frangos can get away with quotidian chicken, because the delicious peri peri sauce makes up for it. There are six kinds, and combinations are encouraged. Our favorite involves the “hot” one (which is the color of the earth’s inner core or a devastating spray tan) paired with the lemon and herb one that should replace all salad dressings going forward. This combination isn’t just spicy - it’s complex with earthiness, acidity, and the lip numbing sensation of an effective chapstick. Also, you’re guaranteed to make a mess while you eat it, like a four-year-old child or a zoo animal during feeding time. That’s part of the Frangos fun.
But if you want to experience all of the peri peri sauces - and you should want that - order the chicken wing Russian roulette. To call this plate of ten mystery wings “a dish” would be a disservice to the sheer activity of eating it. It’s an exercise of free will, really. One that involves unidentified hot sauces, suspense, and enough napkins to nullify a lifetime’s worth of recycling.
Frangos will leave you chasing a sauce high. You’ll start seeing apparitions of their hot sauce on every other table, only to realize they’re only feeble Tabasco or Sriracha bottles. Drake, Kanye, and Adele might not be namedropping this peri peri spot yet (unlike Nando’s), but if you’re wondering what you should eat for dinner on a Tuesday night after a sh*tty day at work, Frangos will mean the world to you. If only for an hour or so.
Frangos bastes and grills all their chicken with your choice of peri peri sauce. If you’re coming here for one thing only, make it this $14.99 half chicken, especially with the mix of “hot” sauce and “lemon and herb.”
Say you’re fond of the Youtube series, “Hot Ones,” and you’d like to see how you’d fare (without having to become a famous celebrity first). Get the 10-piece wing roulette, try to accurately identify each mystery spice wing, and emotionally prepare for the extra hot one - don’t worry, the pain goes away pretty fast.
This chicken sandwich is as special as its mother thinks it is. It’s packed with grilled halloumi, peri peri chicken, and coleslaw, all between two pieces of garlic bread. Add some spicy fries to the sandwich, and it becomes even more special.
Like at Wendy’s, you’re invited to add a side or two to any dish. But unlike Wendy’s combo meals, Frangos serves little slices of fresh hot garlic bread. Not only is this an excellent way to cut the heat from the peri peri sauce, but it also provides a launching off point to make a killer, DIY peri peri chicken sandwich.
These crispy fries are our second favorite side at Frangos - although they’re misadvertised as being spicy. We’d suggest adding an extra hit of peri peri from the table.
Skip the lamb chops at Frangos. These have been overcooked every time we’ve tried them, and the thickness of the peri peri sauce overpowers any actual taste of lamb.