Since, compared to larger towns, I always consider openings in Walnut Creek a big deal (no matter how big of a deal they actually are) because there are much fewer of them, I skipped over to Tender Greens twice last week to see how they've fared since just barely squeaking in an April opening. I was enticed by the general concept, which was quick, locally-sourced, farm-fresh fare. If there's anything I love, it's a place that uses lots of hyphens.
Tender Greens service is cafeteria-style, although a little odd in the sense that it's set up like a cafeteria , long counters and all, but the service feels distinctly like any "order at the reg and we'll bring you your shit" place. You choose an entree from two long, wall-mounted menus, order at the register, and then walk the long counter tops to the dessert and drink sections, where the person behind the register grabs what you want. I guess the long counters are nice so you can get a view of your food being made, as the gawkers to the left are clearly doing, but there was no serving yourself, as I'm apt to do at cafeterias.
The actual seating area is EXPANSIVE and includes plenty of outdoor dining options. Inside, the walls are plastered with all kinds of pictures of farmy fare – people, their farms, farm animals. A good chunk of the wall space is devoted to grimy leathered faces ("salt-of-the-earth folks" as I'm sure someone somewhere says), above a description of their farm, personal history, and introduction to farming. Seating is in keeping with the cafeteria aspect and relatively non-descript, and my ass cheeks survived unscathed so it's comfortable enough to sit in for an extended amount of time. Also, the people behind the counter WILL come over repeatedly trying to remove dishes if they are especially bored.
D opted for the Chipotle Barbecue Chicken: romaine hearts, avocado (on the side, because he's a weirdo and doesnt like avocado), queso fresco, crispy tortilla strips, green onion, cilantro lime dressing. While he spent a good portion of the meal trying to determine what the fuck the mystery cheese was (he swears queso fresco was nowhere on the menu), he said the chicken was cooked well, and the salad was "good." yuuuuuup.
1352 Locust St., Walnut Creek