Searching for the Best Chicken Tenders in Isla Vista

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Photo by Sheila Tran

Sheila Tran
Senior Copy Editor

In my opinion, there’s no food less offensive than the beloved chicken tender. They’re a regular on kid’s menus at even the fanciest restaurants for a reason — they’re reliable, delicious, and if you’ve tasted one, you’ve probably tasted them all. Wings are messy and nuggets are infantile, but tenders? They’re convenient enough to be eaten with one hand and yet premium enough to be ordered on almost any occasion. And if you’re craving some variety or something new, all you have to do is pick a different sauce. 

My search for the best chicken tenders in Isla Vista was based on the following criteria: juiciness of chicken, flavor of breading, breading to meat ratio, breading crispiness, and most importantly, value. Here’s my review of the four best chicken tenders in Isla Vista, ranked:

  1. IV Deli Mart

IV Deli Mart may be universally loved for its fries, but its chicken tenders were sadly the most disappointing of the night. While they were the best value at just $4.99 for three pieces, these tenders were definitely the driest of the taste test. The breading itself had an overpowering taste of salt and was only mildly crispy despite the extreme dryness of the meat. This is one of those tenders that you’ll have to drown in sauce to stomach, and even then, I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy your meal.

The verdict? It’s the cheapest chicken tender in I.V. for a reason. Just stick to buffalo chicken cheese fries here. 

  1. Deja Vu

I’m not exactly sure what Deja Vu is known for, but it definitely takes the cake for having the most difficult chicken tenders to eat by far. The breading was the thickest and most stale out of the taste test, requiring a significant amount of chew only for the reward of unevenly-cooked chicken. Dry in most places and only moderately moist in others, these bland tenders were nothing to write home about.

Deja Vu might hit the spot if you’re absolutely desperate for chicken tenders, but for $9.00 with fries, you’re better off going to an actual sit-down restaurant.

  1. Silvergreens

Silvergreens’ chicken tenders were a curious case. They were easily the worst value, clocking in at a whopping $7 for three of the tiniest tenders I’ve ever seen. However, the meat was deliciously juicy, and the breading was so flavorful that using sauce wasn’t an absolute necessity. While all the other tenders tasted obviously frozen and processed, Silvergreens’ felt the most natural and “fresh.” Unfortunately, they were also covered in grease and the least crispy of the night, with uneven breading that fell off the meat in multiple places.

Silvergreens wins in terms of flavor, but the lack of value and absence of crispiness keeps this little tender from winning first place.

  1. Sam’s To Go

Sam’s is best known for its assortment of delicious deli sandwiches, but customers should really be paying more attention to its chicken tenders. While these tenders weren’t the most cost-efficient at $9.50 for three tenders with fries (there’s no option to order without fries), they met every single item on our criteria. Juicy and delicious meat in the middle, delightfully crispy exterior, great structural integrity, and decently hefty size — what more could you ask from a tendie?

It still wasn’t perfect — the seasoning wasn’t the most flavorful, and there was slightly too much breading in certain places — but Sam’s served the best all-around tender. If you’re looking for a filling and delicious chicken tender in I.V., Sam’s is the place to go.

Sheila Tran
Sheila Tran is a fourth year Writing & Literature major who enjoys copy editing, indie music, and banh mi.

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