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New Restaurant Brief: Nandos and La Pachanga (Calgary)


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New Restaurant Brief: Nandos and La Pachanga (Calgary)

yen | Jun 6, 2007 11:04 AM

Super busy with work, but wanted to pass on 2 decent experiences i had recently.

1. Nando's Chicken - i first had this chain in South Africa, when a friend of mine there on exchange took me there, but im not sure of their origins. They serve Portugese Peri Peri Chicken. Flame grilled, this stuff is tender, juicy, flavourful. Someone mentioned to me that they'd finally opened a location in Calgary (they've been in the lower mainland for quite some time now), so i drove around in the wrong part of town looking for where it was supposed to be. Didnt find it! Finally decided to get with the 1990's and googled it. It's located on 32 Avenue and 33rd Street NE, by the Sobey's on the southside of 32nd ave.

Shared a whole chicken, with peri peri fries, baked potato, and peri-rice. The chicken was as good as i remember it being, with both hot and garlic peri sauce on each table. The fries were very average, as the "peri" was really just a sprinkle of seasoning salt with some cayenne. The baked potato was average too, with too much sour cream. The peri rice was quite good, and the only accompaiment i enjoyed.

It's in the old Pizza Hut location. Inside is a "fancy" fast food atmoshphere... some nice banquettes, decent fixtures, quite comfortable. Not quite as trendy as Tommy Burger, but close. A HUGE improvement over Swiss Chalet. It's not cheap, but it's reasonably priced and very good.

2. La Pachanga

There's a spanish restaurant place on 12th avenue between 9th and 8th street SW. It used to be some non-descrip bar. Opened up 3 weeks ago. It's a HUGE location, but they've converted a 3rd of it into a dance floor. They had tango dancing on last night, with free lessons. Apparently there are salsa lessons on thursday for $10, and Mariachi bands on the weekends. One of the staff got up and played a couple songs. Based on the number of ladies sitting around waiting to dance last night, have to say that it's a popular thing :) My understanding is that dancing is always on, so if you want food and dancing, it's not a bad option.

The decor is actually pretty nice - predominant RED theme, but comfortable chairs and tables. The service was insanely slow. This was last night (flood night), so the restaurant was pretty quiet (5 or 6 tables filled), but the waitress still took forever to get to us, to come back to take our order, bring the bill, take the CC, etc... Hate to see how it is when it's busy. Im guessing it's just one of those places that take a lot of time (like Mimo's).

The prices, at first glance, are EXPENSIVE. Tapas dishes are 9-18. A Mohito was 10 bucks! However, in their extensive menu, there were some reasonable dishes. We split a Paella for one, which was $25. Not the cheapest, but it was a good size serving for one, and the seafood wasnt overcooked. A nice chorizo as well. This wasnt the best Paella i've ever had (only a bit of char, a bit too mushy), but it was decent. Had the shrimp and scallop ceviche, which was ok as well. Came with two lime wedges - tried without it, and there wasnt any citrus flavour. Since the seafood in ceviche is supposed to have it's proteins denatured by citrus juice (typically lime), im not sure how this was a real ceviche!?!? However, once the fresh lime was squeezed in, it tasted ok. It was $16 for a large margarita glass, and came with fresh tortillas and plantain chips.

Lastly, to fill us up, we ordered a big plate of nachos (16.5 and 18). These were big, well cheesed, and came with 4 sides - guac, sourcream, and 2 salsas. It was quite good, but at that price, i guess i expected a bit more.

Anyway, i think i may have had a bit of sticker shock from many of the prices. The meal ended up being 72 bucks for 2 people, and we were stuffed, so it wasnt a terrible deal. I guess i was either hoping for lower prices, or better execution. But it might be worth trying out for others out there - especially if you like Latin dancing.

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