My BFF has been asking me for years “have you been to Tender Greens yet?” My answer has always been nope. She lives in LA county where there are a handful of Tender Greens, but there wasn’t one in Orange County until recently. A couple of weeks ago, she asked me again and I told her it was about time I went!
Located at the Irvine Spectrum, the environmentally friendly decor and hugely inviting colors of the restaurant doesn’t feel like a ‘self-serve’ style restaurant. You order at the front of the line and then mosey on down with a clear view of the counter where the meals are being prepared. When you reach the end where the cashier is, you pay, and within minutes, your food is ready for you to take to a table, or away if you’re having it to go.
We arrived when the restaurant opened and I’m glad we did. Within 30 minutes, it was already more than half packed and before an hour was up, it was pretty much completely full. However, no need to worry because the lines move really quickly even though it might seem a daunting wait when you see the hoards of people.
We started with some soups. Fisherman’s Stew ($4) was decent although the fish was a tad tough. Each day the restaurant offers a version with ‘meat’, another that is vegetarian and lastly, a vegan option.
Kale and Multigrain ($4) the vegan option was absolutely delicious. It was piping hot and filled with bits of goodness even this carnivore was happy with. I would definitely order this soup again!
Not being a regular fan of salads, we chose one to try. VR Green Farms Harvest Salad ($11) was on the specials board and includes tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit, shaved fennel, candied walnuts, California feta cheese, with tender greens and golden balsamic vinaigrette. As far as salads go, it was very good.
Now, if you think Tender Greens only serves vegetables, then you’re wrong! That’s what I initially thought, but they have some wonderful meaty options as well. These items can be enjoyed as part of a sandwich, as a plate, or put together the way you choose.
For example, we chose the Backyard Marinated Steak ($11) as a sandwich. The steak is grilled medium rare and served on grilled ciabatta bread. You can choose a side salad from the “Simple Salads” selection. We opted for the spinach salad for this item. The flavors were perfectly executed and the quality of the meat was top notch. I brought half of the sandwich home and even after several hours, my son said it was absolutely yummy!
When I saw Fried Chicken ($11) on the menu, I knew I had to have it. We ordered it as a hot plate with mashed potatoes and the kale side salad from the Simple Salad selections. The buttermilk coated chicken was moist and juicy with a perfectly crispy exterior. I know where I’m coming from fried chicken from now on!
Another stand-out is the Herb Brushed Albacore ($11). We didn’t want any more mashed potatoes and you can choose to substitute that or the salad for soup for an additional $2. The fish was lightly seared and the freshness of the fish is unequivocal.
As we went through the line, our mouths were watering from the selection of vegetables on display. We wanted to try some of these as well.
Roasted Grilled Veggies ($3/$5) was a vibrant plate of red garnet yams, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe and breakfast radishes. Who would’ve thought to grill radishes!! They were soooo good!
Every day, there is a featured Special Side ($4) and on the day of our visit, it was a farro salad with butternut squash, sweet potato, kale, broccoli rabe, caramelized onions tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette. Nutty and oh so tantalizing!
As if that wasn’t enough, they have some really awesome desserts as well. My favorite was the Orange Olive Oil Cake! So moist and filled with the aromas of citrus just floats through your palate.
I will definitely be a frequent visitor from now on. For those of you who have never been, I highly suggest you try them out for yourself. This week, I have a $25 gift certificate plus an Orange Olive Cake for one lucky winner. Leave me a comment and tell me what you’re most excited to try! Entries end on Sunday, 10th March. Winner will be announced on Monday! Good Luck!
31 Fortune Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
Amy Katz says
The roasted vegetables look divine! I would love to try those grilled radishes.
Lauren Lim says
The fried chicken looks really good!
Beth s says
Can’t wait to go next week! Would love to treat my friend to dinner for her bday! She’s a vegetarian so I know she’ll enjoy the meal!
Lynn @ The Actor's Diet says
i remember when they first opened in culver city. i love seeing that they’re taking over the world!
Trina Diep says
I’m really excited to try the Orange Olive cake. It sounds so good. Not to mention the steak sandwich and fried chicken. Oh and the grilled radishes too.
Michelle Terry says
I’m most excited to try the fried chicken! It sounds and looks amazing!!! Also, the Orange Olive Oil Cake sounds extremely good and like something I would go nuts over.
angie kim says
Hi. I love kale salads of all kinds so that’s on my list. And desserts, well…show me the list. thanks
I’m excited to try the fried chicken!
I’ve been once and I had the happy vegan plate which is faro wheat with cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beets, green hummus, tabbouleh, tender greens. It was soooo yummy! I was very pleasantly surprised. I really want to try that cake though! lol 🙂 ~Adrea Reed
Valentin Pedroza says
I love that they did not overcooked the steak in the Backyard Marinated Steak sandwich. I am also impressed that the Kale and Multigrain is only 4 bucks. Thanks for the review. I will check this out when I go to the spectrum.
Mad Hungry Woman says
yeah they ask you if medium rare is okay. that’s how they usually prepare it 🙂
Wow does that fried chicken look fantastic…and I’ve been craving lately too. I’d get that and the grilled veggies (radishes!).
Bing Barcega says
I’d like to try their Happy Vegan salad, but that fried chicken looks yummy!
Happy Fang says
Ooh, I’m interested in trying the grilled radishes!! The theme of this restaurant reminds me of Plutos (only available up north, sigh) and I’m hoping it can satisfy like Pluto’s does. The veggies look deee-lish!
Glen Fujimoto says
Count me in for some fried chicken and cake!
Hi, Always look forward to your emails.
I would love to try Herb Brushed Albacore and Roasted Grilled Veggies.
Have a great evening.
Sincerely, Irina Dolan
Jenny lee says
I would love to try roasted veggies and olive oil cake. Yum!!
Jonathan Za Bala says
Fried chicken and that orange olive cake would be…cake!
Fried chicken at a salad joint? Must see to believe.
I’d love to try the orange olive oil cake.
Ooh, always thought this place was only veg, too! I’d love to try some of that fried chicken, mm!
Melissa Soohoo says
wow it looks really good. i was always under the assumption that this place was just salads but that steak sandwich looks like an amazing deal!!!
Mad Hungry Woman says
congratulations! you are the winner! can you contact me at email@example.com
I want to try the orange olive oil cake cake, and I’ll go all out and go with the Happy Vegan.
Julie Nguyen says