How much do you like chicken tenders? No, not a nugget created by Chickenstein out of pink slime! I’m talking about a real chicken tender made from all natural, hormone free chicken that has never been frozen. Sound a bit specific like I’m trying to lead you somewhere? I guess. But you do like chicken tenders, right? You have to or you wouldn’t still be reading this post – hang on, I’m going somewhere with this.
I’ve driven by Tenders Fresh Food on Statesville Road outside of Cornelius, North Carolina dozens of times without even thinking of stopping to eat. I assumed it was a fast food chain of some sort partly because the building and parking lot look so clean and new. I know it’s silly to make that assumption but I’m guessing that I’m not the only newbie around to think it. It sounds unfair to independents a little but kudos to Tenders for keeping the place looking so nice.
Well, I was driving by and running late to an appointment but starving also. I’ve got just enough time to have a quick bite and then I see Tenders across the intersection - so in I drive. As I park I begin to wonder what exactly I’m about to get myself into. Not leaving anything to chance, I snap some photos on the way in just in case.
Inside to the right is the order window. Ok, I did need my lunch fast. I step up having no idea what the menu offers and the girl at the register asks me what I want to order. I think to myself that I have no idea. To her, I just smile and ask for a minute. The menu is right in front of me and I realize that the choices are the number of chicken tenders you want, do you want them in a sandwich, do you want a turkey sandwich or do you want a salad with chicken. Easy enough so I ordered the 3 tender meal ($5.97) which comes with fresh cut fries and a fountain drink or iced tea.
There are also a variety of house-made sauces available and several look good so I have to ask for a second opinion. She gives me her favorite three which still leaves me wondering which to choose and ask if I can try all three. “Sure no problem” is not the answer I thought I would get which makes me like this place better already. The THREE sauces I will get are the Creamy Garlic, Sweet Heat and Buffalo Blue – I can’t wait. She asks for my first name and hands me a cup. They’ll call my name when it’s ready.
I head to the next room where the coke machines, iced tea and condiments are located and get my sweet tea. No sooner do I fill my cup and take a couple photos when I hear my name called – WOW, they are fast! I grab my tray and head back for some ketchup and a little Frank’s Hot Sauce in the condiment area. By the way, Malt Vinegar is one of the options for those that want a little English style to their meal.
The food is hot and tastes great. The fries were a little on the greasy side but I ate every bite and I never used that ketchup; not with all those illustrious sauces for dipping. While eating I notice that Tenders promotes the fact that they don’t have a freezer and the chicken is all natural and hormone free. Along with fresh cut fries, I’m in. No wonder they are always busy.
So if you’re in the Lake Norman area this is an independent restaurant that you will want to support while relishing some tenders and fries. Make note that they have happy hour from 2-4pm with beverages and shakes half off. Stop in but you have to let me know which sauce(s) you choose!
Tenders Fresh Food
18341 Statesville Rd
Cornelius, North Carolina 28031