The symbol of Galos Flame Grilled Chicken has teased University Place for a year and a half, but the piri-piri has finally arrived.
Specializing in the tangy, mildly spicy, grilled (never fried) Portuguese chicken — by way of African chiles — Galos quietly opened Friday, March 1 at 3556 Market Place W., next to Bliss Creamery and across from Mediterranean Gyro Grill.
The menu hinges on the bird, and sizing allows for both a quick solo lunch and a filling family meal. Most items are a la carte, and you can add ingredients such as grilled pineapple or a fried egg, making for a highly customizable experience.
A quarter order features a leg and thigh or a breast and wing, while the half would feed a very hungry single or a couple if accompanied by a side or two. Double up for just a few dollars more, or stick with wings available by the half-or full-dozen.
Sides, each available as a single or shareable order, include piri-dusted fries, seasoned rice, a few salads, grilled corn on the cob (seasonal) and a vegetable medley of carrots, bell peppers, broccoli and red onions all doused in minced garlic and the signature lemon-garlic piri sauce.
“Sauce,” said co-owner Nick Athwal, “is addiction.” The secret to Portuguese sauces, he said, is “in the lemon and the spice.”
Athwal has been in the piri-piri business since the late 1990s when he purchased his first Nando’s Peri-Peri franchise. The South African chain has become synonymous with the style since opening its first location in Johannesburg in 1987, expanding to some 1,200 stores in 30 countries. It hit the United States in the early 2000s, and its success has spawned other iterations, including the Canadian Barcelos, a few locations of which Athwal also previously operated.
He began the Galos journey in 2017 with business partner Cerry Atwal. They tested 37 different recipes for their piri-piri before landing on what you’ll taste in University Place. It’s more lemon-forward than its counterparts, beginning with the lemon-garlic that acts as the 24-hour marinade for all of the poultry.
“We wanted to create something of our own,” said Athwal.
The chicken is then grilled, skin-on, and doused in your choice of sauce: lemon-garlic again, medium, hot or extra hot. If you prefer spicy, I recommend starting with the hot. It builds as you tear the leg off the breast, preferably without fork and knife.
Round out the meal with shareables such as hummus with mini-naans, potato-cheddar bites or grilled livers in, naturally, piri-piri. Bite-sized fried cauliflower likewise arrives with a small bowl of what Galos calls piri garlic, slightly more viscous than the sauces, and piri spread, which is also lathered onto sandwiches.
Try the chicken on a bun, in a Caesar wrap or atop rice in the already popular, according to Athwal, Galos Piri Bowl. Other protein choices include steak tips, shrimp and salmon.
Families will appreciate four choices of combo meals, starting with The Pairing of a half-chicken, two kebabs (chicken, steak and veggies), four wings and two sides for $30. A whole chicken stars in The Trio with two large sides and two garlic breads and The Quatro with two kebabs and four sides for $44.
Though the menu is well-suited to takeout, the design of the restaurant encourages guests to enjoy the food in the comfortable dining room. High ceilings, modern wood chairs, earthy tones and real ceramic tile on the floors and the walls show care for the in-house experience. Meals are served on restaurant-caliber plateware, and parents can order from a modest list of two draft beers, a few bottled options including Pacifico and Corona, as well as wine. Others might find joy in the Pepsi machine that offers 40 different flavors.
Galos opened its first restaurant in Ballard in spring 2019, followed by a Bellingham location that December. The University Place shop had anticipated a November 2020 opening, but pandemic-related delays ensued.
The restaurant will host a grand opening party March 30 when University Place mayor Steve Worthington visits for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
GALOS FLAME GRILLED CHICKEN – UNIVERSITY PLACE
▪ 3556 Market Place W, Suite 111, University Place, 253-301-2688, galosusa.com
▪ Details: piri-piri chicken by the piece ($6.95-$11.95) or whole (meals $29.95-$61.95), plus sandwiches, rice bowls and sides a-plenty ($2.95-$7.95)
▪ Visit: order at the counter, staff delivers food and clears tables
This story was originally published March 10, 2022 5:00 AM.