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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Healthy and Delicious Family Dining at Tender Greens

We dined as a guest of Tender Greens
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Tender Greens has been one of my favorite places to have lunch for many years. Every time that I am in the Los Angeles area and find myself having free time to dine out, I am always on my phone searching how far away is the closest Tender Greens.

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When they opened the location in the Irvine Spectrum, I was beyond thrilled, but then found that so was everyone else in Orange County. With wait times reaching over 30 minutes at times, I could not wait until they opened another location, and that time is now! Tender Greens just opened a new location in Irvine right across from UCI in the University Shopping Center (next to the movie theater and Trader Joe’s).

Having dined at almost every Tender Greens location, one thing that I love about the restaurant is that every location is unique and creates different daily specials that are always fantastic.

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The new location is about the same size as the Irvine Spectrum location but is laid out differently. With the large windows surrounding the dining room, the restaurant feels brighter, larger and more spacious than any of the other locations.

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Let’s talk about the food! My favorite menu item (that I usually always order) is the chipotle barbecue chicken salad with a crostini on the side. I always order a grilled cheese for my two younger kids to share and a bowl of tomato soup for my older son. If we feel like indulging a little, we will add a side of their creamy mashed potatoes.

chipotle barbecue chicken salad

chipotle barbecue chicken salad

When dining at the new location, I still got my favorite salad, but also tried some of their daily specials to get a taste for what the chef at this new location is doing with their food. A good amount of their produce is coming from Alegria Farms who was once in Laguna Canyon, and has since grown to expand at the Great Park. Another source for their produce is the Farmer’s Market that is in the parking lot of the shopping center every Saturday.

The Irvine Farmer's Market

The Irvine Farmer’s Market

A giant beet from Alegria Farms

A giant beet from Alegria Farms

Instead of the warm tomato soup that my son usually orders, we tried their vegan gazpacho. It still had the fresh flavor of their traditional tomato soup but was refreshing and perfect to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon on their outdoor patio.

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vegan gazpacho

My favorite out of their daily specials was the marinated fennel and salumi bruschetta. The fresh ingredients were piled high with salumi, olives, roasted tomatoes, garbanzo beans, caramelized onions and cheese on a toasted piece of OC Baking bread. The flavors exploded with every bite, and I found myself wishing that this dish was on their daily menu.

marinated fennel and salumi bruschetta

marinated fennel and salumi bruschetta

When it came to my daughter, she would barely let me have a bite of her fingerling potato and kale tart. It came with a small side salad, and tasted like a healthy version of a pot pie.

fingerling potato and kale tart

fingerling potato and kale tart

Finally, we were in for a treat when they brought out their famous fried chicken. I would have never thought to order fried chicken when dining at Tender Greens, but the chicken deep-fried in a buttermilk, rosemary and a thyme batter was a little slice of heaven.

fried chicken

fried chicken

The desserts..oh the desserts. Next to the register is always a glass case of freshly made desserts, and you’ll often never see the same dessert twice. That is because the pastry chef at all of the locations focuses on creating new delectable desserts for guests to enjoy something new every time they dine at Tender Greens.

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Something that I didn’t know about Tender Greens is that they recycle all of their leftover produce to make sauces and jams to sell to their customers. I purchased their fig and tomato jams so that I could enjoy a little taste of Tender Greens back at home.

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I promise that one visit to Tender Greens will leave your family craving more of their fabulous, fresh and delicious cuisine.

The all-new Tender Greens location is at 4237 Campus Drive in Irvine. They are open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 9pm, and Friday through Saturday from 11am to 10pm.

Tender Greens on Urbanspoon

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One Comment

  1. Have you tried “Urban Plates” in the Crossroads shopping center yet? Similar to Tender Greens. They also usually have a line, but we’ve always been seated when we were in line.

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