Restaurant Review: Tender Greens

Just a bus ride away from campus, the new restaurant Tender Greens is a product of the mall’s ongoing renovations. Tender Greens, as its menu states, is a southern California “fast casual” dining chain that boasts locally grown and raised food, serving mainly salads and grilled proteins. Right when you walk into Tender Greens, the restaurant instantly embodies the southern California lifestyle. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an upscale version of UCSD’s own dining hall Pines — clean, simple and wooden.

Dining out is often limited for vegetarians, but Tender Greens caters to just that demographic while also offering plenty of other options for those that want some protein with their salads. They even have food for the adventurous diner (their Tuna Nicoise salad comes with quail eggs).

There really is something for everyone, including the Happy Vegan, a salad that consists of cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beats, green hummus, tabbouleh and lettuce. But for those who enjoy a good steak or BBQ every once in awhile, Tender Greens has options like the Backyard Marinated Steak and the Chipotle Barbecue Chicken. Most of the items on their menu are generously portioned and moderately priced at $11. Patrons can choose from 12 Big Salads ($11), a simple salad ($6), grilled meat or vegetables with either a small salad or arguably the best garlic mashed potatoes of all time ($11). Their Mint Lemonade is a perfect complement drink ($3). It’s unlike any other lemonade, because it has mint in it. The mint is a perfect balance to the tangy taste of the lemonade.

For vegetarians, it is recommended to order the Grilled Vegetables either on a ciabatta or on a hot plate ($11). All of the vegetables are grilled and seasoned perfectly with olive oil and chili, giving the mild flavored vegetables the kick they need. This meal comes with your choice of potatoes or a simple salad. Although there is a Tender Greens salad, it’s quite underwhelming. It’s merely lettuce and balsamic vinegar. In short, it’s not worthy to be named after the restaurant. A better side would be either the garlic mash potatoes or the Romaine Hearts salad.

Although Tender Greens has no real waiters, its customer service is unparalleled to many other fast, casual restaurants. The employees provide patrons with friendly and attentive service. If you’re craving a little BBQ or steak with a “fast casual” setting, Tender Greens proves to be a healthier option than the go-to San Diego landmark Phil’s BBQ. (3.5/5)