PDQ – Tenders Salads & Sandwiches (Tampa, FL)

While Chick-fil-A staves off all sorts of negative press and scandal a new heir apparent to Tampa's chicken throne has quietly but assuredly established itself ; meet the no-drama People Dedicated to Quality.

In 2009, PDQ opened its doors in Cornelius, North Carolina under the name Tenders, renowned for its fresh chicken tenders, made to order sandwiches, fresh daily cut fries and hand-spun milkshakes. From the very beginning, Tenders was founded on the concept that high-quality food, memorable service and genuine hospitality were the cornerstones to a great restaurant.


While we’re not big on chain restaurants here at Down Shift Magazine, we’ve got to admit that we were curious from the start when we first saw the peculiar looking South Tampa PDQ going up across the street from Plant High School. Our first thought was that the building reminded us an awfull lot of West Coast favorite In-N-Out Burger, an assertion only strengthened by our subsequent visits. So yes, PDQ is indeed a chain or a franchise depending on how you would like to evaluate their business structure…but it’s one of those rare chains that transcends the bounds of mediocrity and aspires to be something unique; an organization and concept built and executed around the simple ideology of quality…

The aesthetics of the place is nothing short of interesting. The architecture represents a perfect balance between the openness and healthy living style of California balanced by the hospitality and pragmatism of the south; a marriage of style and culture that perfectly represents our Central Florida communities here in Tampa Bay and beyond. Inside, the place is voluminous…truly large in both scale and execution.  It’s clear from the moment you walk in the door that this new eatery is aiming to be in a category all it’s own. This is nothing like KFC, Chick-fil-A, Churches or even Zaxby’s; it’s bigger, healthier and more high end. In fact it might be argued that PDQ is really more of a casual dining experience than a fast-food restaurant, though the food here is easily served twice as fast as that at most any McDonalds. The dining room is spacious, clean and casual, all elements that serve to make your dining experience here relaxing and enjoyable. Attention to detail is everywhere here, from the open hand-washing station adjacent to the   fountain drinks and tea-bar to the use of cooling misters on the outside seating areas. Comfort and convenience is king here and PDQ loves to make it show.



The staff here is pleasant, upbeat and above all else well informed about the menu and various options and substitutions available to it’s patrons. Little touches like the availability of Cheerwine in a glass bottle pay homage to the North Carolina roots of the eatery while the use of dueling Coca-cola Free-Style soda fountains firmly plants a 21st century stamp on things. Rounding the beverage scene out, PDQ features something unique that I particularly enjoy; an iced tea bar! Choice is good…

The food here is…quality. We’ve not had anything here we did not like with the exception of the coleslaw…which was actually good by all food standards just not the sort of sweet southern-style coleslaw we enjoy. The chicken is amazing; moist, tender and succulent. Hand-breaded, the tenders and breasts are prepared fresh to order, something which puts nearly all other chicken places in the same price-point to shame. The fries are excellent, cut fresh and cooked to perfection before being perfectly lightly-salted so as to compliment the chicken in every way. The apple slices which are available in lieu of the fries are equally fresh served in large enough proportion as to quell even the most substantial of appetites. The salads are large in proportion as well as taste, offering diners all the joys of the delectable grilled or crispy chicken balanced by the healthy sensibility of a garden-fresh salad.

But what In-N-Out style chicken shack would be worth it’s weight in crispy goodness if it didn’t also offer hand-spun milkshakes? Thankfully, that not a question we have to ask of PDQ as they routinely serve up some of the best milkshakes available in town. Whether you prefer traditional vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shakes or perhaps something a little more fancy like Oreo, Heath or apple pie People Dedicated to Quality has you covered.

All in all this is one of our new top pics for anyone visiting the Tampa Bay area. (Are you listening Republican National Committee?) It’s fresh, clean, inspired and delicious…all things it’s incredibly refreshing to see out of a chain!


PDQ - People Dedicated to Quality

2207 South Dale Mabry Highway   –   12650 North Dale Mabry Highway   –   27757 SR 56
Tampa, FL 33629  -   Tampa, FL 33618  -  Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
(813) 254-7373  -   (813) 443-8336  -  (813) 528-8770
Mon-Sun: 11am-10pm