In San Diego, Even the Greenery is Tender (and Delicious)!
Tender Greens is a farm-to-table fast casual restaurant with a laid-back feel. The downtown location is conveniently located less than a mile from the marina and the historic Gas Lamp Quarter. Though Tender Greens, the service and quality of the food is anything but cookie cutter. Restaurants employ local chefs, who develop recipes, unique to every location. Employees work hand-in-hand with California farmers to ensure every piece of produce that lands on a customer’s plate is local, sustainable, and fresh.
Customers can expect meals in a hurry at Tender Greens—but they won’t see quality affected by the speedy service. Tender Greens offers, “Slow food, done fast.” Chefs work with local food vendors, like boutique wineries, breweries, and coffee roasters; ranchers in the San Diego area; and nearby artisans. All beef comes from grain-fed cows that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Chickens are all raised free-range in Northern California.
The connection between the customer and the farmer is one in which Tender Greens prides itself. Instead of using preservatives and fillers, all the food comes from the freshest, simplest ingredients. On-site pastry team makes all the desserts and pastries fresh every day.
Even the condiments are high quality—nuts, spices, cheeses, and oils are all locally sourced as much as possible and add to the flavor of the main ingredients without masking the taste of the fresh, local produce and meats.
Whenever possible, Tender Greens chooses produce and meats from locally sourced vendors. The majority of their produce is hand-picked from Scarborough Farms in Oxnard and delivered daily to the restaurant in eco-friendly containers. Other produce comes from small local farms. In addition to Scarborough Farms, the San Diego location also uses Carlsbad Aquafarm, Point Loma Farms and Suzie's Farm produce. The chefs at each restaurant build and maintain relationships with local farmers in order to keep local produce sustainable and to deliver quality food to their customers.
Menu items range from core salads, soups, entrees, and sandwiches, to specialty signature items, like the chipotle barbecue chicken salad and southern fried chicken. Chefs at each location add specialty items to the menu each day, depending on the availability of produce and the season. Specialty items include dishes like harissa rubbed pork loin sandwiches, rosemary porchetta, and duck confit. The restaurant also offers a selection of deserts from pastry chef Susanna Brandenburg, like seasonal pies, old fashioned ho-hos, and retro pop tarts.
Tender Greens prides itself in offering customers a laid-back dining experience that’s as cool as is it socially conscience. Furniture and fixtures are made from recycled, environmentally friendly materials—like re-purposed timber and reclaimed wood (all FSC and LEED certified, of course). On the walls, hang artwork created by local artists. The modern dining room boasts clean lines and stainless steel fixtures. Green stools add pops of color to an otherwise monochromatic space. It’s cool enough to bring a date and chill enough to hang out at on a lunch break.
Each Tender Greens location has an executive chef, who has won awards, serving up fine fare at upscale restaurants.
Todd Renner, the executive chef at Tender Greens in Downtown San Diego was born and raised in the area. Obsessed with San Diego’s small town vibe in the big city, Todd strives to bring local produce straight to the tables of residents and visitors alike.
Todd has served up culinary classics as the executive chef at San Diego’s Blind Lady Alehouse. He’s also worked at the Farm House Café and US Grant Hotel.
A graduate of San Diego State University, Todd has a degree in humanities to match his culinary pedigree. Humanities has taught him to link culture and cuisine and eating with curiosity.
A lover of barbecue and Southern food, Todd is always trying to reinvent comfort food classics, experimenting with barbecue and hot sauces, as well as mustards. He soon saw the absence of smoked meats in San Diego and started making his own as a hobby.
At work, he’s often found tinkering with ways to add depth to his hot sauce recipes, using fermented Bird’s Eye chilies.
Catering and Cookbook
Tender Greens also offers catering for large groups and parties, ideal for office lunches and events.