Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tenders (Cornelius)

During coffee last week with a friend, I was reminded that I needed to visit Tenders Fresh Food in Cornelius. I'd been told that they have some of the best friend chicken around, but I had forgotten -- until it was mentioned during our morning conversation.

So yesterday I headed out to meet another friend at Tenders. On the corner of Westmoreland and Statesville Roads in Cornelius, it's easy to find. And from the looks of the parking lot at noon -- a LOT of people have already found it.

I walked in and took a look at the menu. It's very basic. In fact, the menu reminded me of the menus available at Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger. This restaurant focuses on only a few things and does them well. As opposed to some of those fast-food restaurants that have dozens of entrees, Tenders has only three -- Chicken Tenders, Chicken Sandwich, and a Pork Loin Sandwich.

I chose the Chicken Tenders, and added Honey-Mustard sauce, Fries, and a Pepsi. While waiting for my order I looked around the restaurant. This place is VERY clean. Not a speck of dirt or crumb of food around. The owner obviously takes pride in this restaurant.

Once my food was ready, I loaded up on ketchup, went outside, and grabbed a table with an umbrella for shade. I took a bite of the fried chicken and was amazed how tender the chicken was. It almost fell apart while picking it up -- something I wasn't ready for.

Usually,when eating chicken tenders, I've found them to be tough and rubbery. However, these were juicy and tender, and had quite a lot of flavor. In addition, the fried batter was thick and crispy. On a few occasions when I took a bite, the chicken pulled away from the rest of the tender, leaving a large portion of fried batter waiting for my next bite. These are easily the best chicken tenders that I've had, and it could be the best fried chicken that I've had.

The fries are cut and fried on the premises, as the bags of potatoes will attest. In addition, the skins are left on the fries, which only makes me like this place more. I found the fries to be crunchy and tender -- much like the chicken I was enjoying.

This was a really great meal, at a VERY reasonable price ($6 and change). It's locally owned and all of their ingredients are fresh. I can't recommend this place enough.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 12/15
Price: $ (food and drink under $10)
Kid Friendly: Yes. They offer a kids meal, and I don't think your children could hurt the cement floors. Also, what kid doesn't love chicken tenders?

Conclusion: This is a great local restaurant. They only do a few things, and they make a GREAT fried chicken. I highly recommend it.

Restaurant Info:
Tenders Fresh Food
18341 Statesville Rd.
Cornelius, NC 28031-9184
p) 704-895-6017


  1. Tenders is a concept restuarant owned by 131 Main. It's supposed to compete with Chick-Fil-A and this location is not permanent. It is meant to mimic In-in-Out with it's simplicity and quality.

    The last time we were there it was super slow. Hopefully they've got the kinks worked out. Boss lady was keeping everyone in line, which was fun to watch :-)

  2. The line was almost non-existent when I was there. And the food was fast. Hopefully it stays that way!

  3. Have been 2 times. The first time cold fries but the second much improved. Great fries the sandwiches are good and has been fast. Usually not to many patrons. My husband loves the shakes but don't care for them.

  4. We love the food! Its a clean classic place--uncomplicated menu--good food. That is all you need

  5. Thanks for reviewing this restaurant; because of your recommendation I tried it out and loved it! I have been going at least every other week since then. This is the best, most succulent fried chicken I have ever eaten. Besides having the best chicken I love the fries - thin, almost like shoestring potatoes (Ugh, I HATE home fries!), but just the right crispiness. The simple white decor reminds me of the beach. It would not be out of place on the coast. While I was eating there once, one of the ultra-friendly staff came in and sanitized the shelf that the bags of potatoes were stored on! Very clean. Thanks again for the recommendation. Hmmm, now I have scores of other eateries to try....

  6. At my office Christmas party we had a party tray of chicken tenders (35 count) It was completed devoured in the first hour. First time I ever saw anything more popular than the shrimp tray at any party! We sent out for a second 35 and they were ready in for us upon arrrival (10 minutes away from our office) and back serving guests on drive time only. Can't say enough good things about the food or service. Mike at MK

  7. Have you tried the apples with the toffee dip? Yuummmmmi-EEEeee!

  8. I have always liked the food at Tenders because of it's freshness. Unfortunately, I ate there yesterday at lunch and had to send the fries back because they were not hot. The sandwich was also not up to their usually standards. It was a bit cold and the bun fell apart while I was trying to eat it. I hope this was just an isolated incident and not the start of a gradual slipping.