Whilst cruising the Urbanspoon a couple of weeks ago, I saw a listing for a new restaurant in Tampa called PDQ. I started to read up a bit and found that PDQ was the new fast casual chicken restaurant experiment being undertaken by the Outback people. Being a fan of chicken and considering myself to be both fast and casual, I thought this restaurant might be the perfect way to spend part of the evening. So I headed over.
PDQ stands for either Pretty Darn Quick or People Dedicated to Quality or both, depending on where you look and who you ask. I like to think it stands for Pernicious Duck Quacks, for no reason at all. Go ahead and play the game with your friends while you’re there. I don’t really like the name of the restaurant, but what do I know, they had to call it something. Perhaps it’s my deep-seated fear of initializes and acronyms.
I do, however, like the PDQ sign. It’s cool and retro and graphic in that cool, retro, graphic kind of way. You know what I mean. I also like the inside of the restaurant. Everything is tall ceilings, wide open spaces, and lots of natural light. Though the ceiling is a little more finished looking and doesn’t quite have that post-apocalyptic industrial aesthetic that Chipotle has. Everything is finished in a light wood, which also adds to the general clean, bright look of the place. The kitchen, wide open as well, is located just a chicken breast’s breadth behind the counter with lots of busy workers chickening their hearts out.
PDQ is equipped with not one, but two (!), Coca-Cola Freestyle machines! If you haven’t seen or tried these devices, they are right out of a Demolition Man future utopia, and are stocked with all of your favorite Coke products which you can then flavor tweak with shots like vanilla, cherry, and lime. They also serve bottled Cheerwine! Making a beverage decision was worse than Sophie’s Choice. I did eventually go with the Freestyle, because at my heart I am a science fiction fan.
PDQ specializes in chicken tenders, sandwiches and salads. I decided to start with the basics and ordered the three tender meal with fries of the French variety. The damage came to $7.22. A steal.
The tenders were fairly large, well-breaded, well-seasoned, tender, juicy and piping hot. They tasted like chicken tenders I’ve cooked at home, but that doesn’t really help you, does it? Suffice it to say they were very good.
The French fries were also good. They taste like the fries from Five Guys, though not as greasy. They are shoestring style. They’re not as skinny as Steak ‘n Shake fries but not quite as wide as McDonalds fries.
PDQ offers five dipping sauces: Honey Mustard, Chipotle Barbeque, Ranch, Sweet Heat, and Creamy Garlic. All are pretty standard (Creamy Garlic was my favorite). They’re solid, if a little lazy. The Honey Mustard and Barbeque reminded me of the sauces you’d find with a counter service meal at Disney World. This is the area that could use the most improvement. Entering the market on such a small scale, PDQ should really be pushing the dipping sauce envelope. Everyone has Barbeque and Honey Mustard and Ranch. They should take the opportunity and step things up a bit.
Overall, I really liked PDQ. The restaurant looks great and the food is good. At just over $7, the quality and portion size were a great value. Drop this place into your monthly rotation.
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2207 South Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL 33629