Sandwiches lend themselves to creativity — with a bit of imagination, you can concoct some of the most outrageously mouth-watering mountains of bread and goodness-knows-what-else and there are no limits. Sure, you can say the same of pizza, and casseroles, and maybe other food types I’m not thinking of right now, but they are not the go-to lunch item.
Hot or cold, sandwiches can offer the best combinations, along with convenience and affordability. And talk about variety — there’s the panini, burgers, double- and triple-deckers, melts, and — at DiChicko’s — the flap.
Sure, The Tournament is here, and the world-renowned pimento sandwiches are being served at the National. But, it’s worth heading up Washington Road to the Fairway Square shopping center and running into DiChicko’s Peri Peri Café. Unfortunately, you’ll have to do it Monday-Wednesday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. because they’ll be closed for the rest of Masters Week. But did I mention that it’s worth it? It really is.
When I went for lunch last week, the entire affair was hindered by my debit card (I’m so over cards!) and I wasn’t able to sit in the café, but I did take a good look at the place. It’s perfect if you’re looking to duck out of the office for lunch; the café takes to go orders, so customers can call ahead of time and they will have the food ready for you to grab and go. Tucked away in the back of New Life Natural Foods, the interior is cozy and inviting. The lighting isn’t glaring, there are some floor rugs and the dining areas are clean, and there’s plenty of seating. A few little nooks and seating areas offer some separation between tables so customers can eat their food with some privacy. I like that.
The café is the brainchild of Heather and Lucio DiCicco, whose South African connections and F&B experience have resulted in an amazingly diverse and fresh menu. The café is named after the hot African pepper — the staple ingredient in their incredible sauces, including their signature DiChicko’s Peri-Peri Sauce, a sautéed blend of the pepper, onions, garlic and other spices and seasonings. It packs plenty of heat without removing a layer of your tongue. All the chicken is marinated in their Peri Peri Marinade, one of several of their sauces available to buy online (dichickos.com/Ordering.html). And, accompanying every meal is a portion of their Peri-Naise, a mixture of peri peri sauce and mayonnaise, which I believe is on par with the truly great Siracha mayo.
To look at the menu, it’s easy to forget this place is all about organic, natural food. Everything sounds delicious but there’s no unreasonably priced anything — especially considering the juices and smoothies are made in-house, along with just about everything else on the menu. Prices range from a few dollars for appetizers and sides, to $8.49 for entrees and combos.
The main sandwich type is the “flap,” a grilled tortilla wrap, but other sandwich types are available, including melts and paninis. After looking at the combos — the Peri Peri Flap and the Chicken Salad Melt sounded really good — I started perusing their specials and realized choosing just one thing was going to be a challenge. That said, the woman at the counter was really helpful and super friendly — seriously, I ask plenty of unnecessary questions and it takes a special kind of person to answer them with a sweet smile.
The choices, people! The Greek Salmon Florentine (salmon, feta, and spinach grilled on sourdough panini bread) and the Southwest Flap (chicken, guacamole, roasted pepper salsa and more yummy stuff) were very tempting. However, the Johannesburg caught my eye, so I ordered it medium spicy with a Sunset Strip juice drink — mango, peach, orange and ginger. The Johannesburg is chicken breast, avocado, provolone, turkey bacon, with lettuce and peri peri sauce, melted on a kaiser roll with a side of Peri-Naise.
I had been told DiChicko’s served wonderful food, but I wasn’t prepared for how awesome this sandwich was going to taste. The bread was crusty yet soft enough, the chicken was grilled to perfection and the avocado and bacon really complemented every ingredient, but it was the sauce that made it. I had never tried a peri-peri sauce before so I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was delicious! Just spicy enough that I noticed it, but I wasn’t breaking out in a sweat, which is totally off-putting.
Ten out of 10. I would eat many more… after I try everything else on the menu, because I swear if the Johannesburg was anything to go by, I am positive everything else they make needs to be put in my face.
The juice was equally surprising; I’m a mango freak, and the mango was a prominent flavor in the blend, but the other ingredients were definitely in there and I knocked it back. Such a good drink for a very warm spring day, it was so totally refreshing!
DiChicko’s offers smoothies, soft drinks (from a case in the front of New Life; just pick out what you want and carry it back to the café with you) and iced tea, too, and they serve kids meals for $4.99, which is affordable and hugely convenient.
So do it, people. Make that short drive and get yourself something your taste buds will adore. And please, for the love, tell others! I am all for keeping secrets, but DiChicko’s Peri-Peri Café shouldn’t be one of them.
DiChicko’s is located at 2825 Washington Road in Augusta. The café is normally open Sunday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call your order in to 706-738-1011 or go online to dichickoscafe.com.