First Look

Nando's Is Open at Preston and Royal

Nando's opened a couple of weeks ago at the southwest corner of Preston and Royal (specifically, the opposite end of the strip from Gazebo Burgers where Le Rendezvous used to be). The chef is from the landmark Original Mexican Café in Galveston.

At Nando's entry is a bar with a fancy chandelier overhead, which is the lighting of choice throughout. Art and faux stonework line the walls. Off the main dining room are two rooms with one large table for those looking for a more intimate experience with 12 friends or more. Seems like Nando's is going for the fancy Tex-Mex crowd.

On Wednesday at lunch the place was completely vacant. The total lack of flavor of the "tostadas salpicon" might have be an indication why. I suppose when a dish is half iceberg lettuce that happens. The barely cooked shrimp and fish were lifeless. Fresh garlic, a bit of jalapeño, salt, lime and cilantro would have made the simple seafood tostadas a great summer lunch. The "aromatic spices" in the menu description must have been overlooked in the kitchen.

But, inside it's really nice and all the staff is extremely attentive. Every three minutes someone was at my table checking on things.

The menu is a mix of seafood and Tex-Mex staples along with Veracruzan dishes. There are fajitas, enchiladas, as well as dishes like pork tenderloin (chuletas) with spinach, chicken with mushrooms, chile rellenos, and several dishes with a "tangy Veracruz sauce." The "Veracurzana plate" has one crispy tostada with beans, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes, served with rice and beans for $13, which is one of the cheapest plates on the menu.

The only other lady in the restaurant the day I was there was scouting the place for next month's book club meeting, which she was in charge of planning. If her group is into that whole 50 Shades of Grey phenom, (which, I hope hope hope they are) the private room with the sexy lighting could be the precise spot. Let's hope the food is as evocative.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.