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The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Dish of the Week: The best chicken tenders on campus, ranked

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Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Chicken tenders, a universal American comfort food and a mainstay on kids’ menus, are no stranger to Foggy Bottom.

Whether a quick handheld lunch before class or a nostalgic late-night treat after a drunk excursion out on the town, chicken tenders occupy a significant portion of many GW students’ diets. But the availability of more than a dozen options in the neighborhood poses a pressing scientific question: Which Foggy Bottom tenders are the best?

An undeniably delectable chicken tender must possess a crispiness that reverberates an audible crunch and a breading that coats juicy white meat in a wide-array of seasonings, from paprika to garlic powder.

If you’re looking for where to get your next finger-licking fix, here is a robust ranking of nine tender options in the area to either scarf down or pass on.

9. North Italia’s Crispy Chicken Strips

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

When the average person thinks of a “chicken strip,” one might envision a piece of chicken that is evenly coated in breading and deep fried. North Italia loses this concept in translation, because the Italian restaurant thinks sliced up pieces of a breaded chicken cutlet will suffice.

For $11, the Italian eatery pawns off roughly a dozen slices of dry and minimally seasoned chicken as “crispy chicken strips” on its kids’ menu with a helping of french fries on the side. With a rubbery texture and a noticeably burnt exterior, North Italia’s poor excuse for a chicken tender resoundingly falls to the bottom of our rankings.

2112 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

8. Andy’s Pizza’s Chicken Tenders

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Andy’s Pizza isn’t clamoring to be the kingpin in the chicken tender game. The locally acclaimed pizza establishment is a go-to destination for slice connoisseurs in the District, but their tenders are a far cry from the pizza that attracts its praise.

Despite their relatively seasoned exterior, the pizzeria’s chicken tenders are stiff in their texture, giving them an uncomfortable bite. The $10 tenders lack the juiciness and crispiness necessary to compete against true chicken establishments, making them an afterthought on the menu. 

2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

7. GW Hospital Cafeteria’s Tenders

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Although the GW Hospital is often associated with throwing up, the medical institution offers an assortment of chicken dishes, from wings to a grilled breast on a bun, in its cafeteria on weekdays.

Its tray of tenders ($4.49) are some of the cheapest in both Foggy Bottom and the District, which puts it above the overpriced options ranked below it. But they are not the richest in flavor, possessing some of the driest white meat on this list and a nearly nonexistent taste. With more traditional food vendors who offer tastier tenders in the neighborhood, you won’t be missing much if you skip the hospital.

900 23rd St. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

6. Whole Foods’ Chicken Strips

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Located deep within the grocery store, customers can choose from a herd of routinely heated chicken strips from Whole Foods’ hot bar. With three tenders costing roughly $4, the grocery giant provides an affordable and convenient option for those looking to grab a quick handful of fingers. 

The catch is that the tenders are not as remarkable as their price, with a below average seasoning that coats its consistently crunchy exterior. Although, the strips’ slightly stronger succulence puts it a step above GW Hospital’s fingers.

2201 I St. NW. Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

5. Absurd Bird’s 2 Piece Chicken Tenders

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Absurd Bird provides a convenient option due to its availability on the dining plan, for tender lovers in the University Student Center. Unlike the other reviewed vendors, Absurd Bird limits its chicken tender quantity to two per meal, deviating from the customary three or four in a standard serving that satisfies the average chicken consumer.

The breading’s tangy taste and the ease with which the meat can be pulled apart puts the tenders above lower entries on this list. Absurd Bird’s small portion size and the tendency for the breading to fall off limits the delectability of the the otherwise finger-licking tenders ($7.99).

2119 H St. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

4. True Burger’s 3 Piece Tenders & Fries

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Occupying the previous location of Chick-fil-A in District House, True Burger continues the underground dining hall’s tradition of supplying chicken tenders to students, albeit falling short of its predecessor. Served with a side of fries, True Burger’s chicken tenders ($10.49) are Foggy Bottom’s largest by far, boasting a bountiful serving of some of the juiciest meat available to students on campus.

On the other hand, the tenders’ wow factor is dampened by their rough texture and minimal seasoning. True Burger’s tenders remain an acceptable option for students whenever they’re ravenous in between classes and looking for a quick bite.

2121 H St. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

3. Shenkman Dining Hall’s Vegan Chicken Tenders

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Though not actually made of white chicken meat, the vegan chicken tenders at Shenkman Hall’s dining hall offer an impressive alternative to the popular comfort food — just without the cluck.

Shenkman’s vegan tenders are seasoned to near perfection with a crispiness that could be scraped with a knife. Though it’s held back by the somewhat dehydrated flavor of its “meat,” the strength of its savory breading brings it to the top of the rankings. While not always offered on the dining hall’s menu, students should flock to Shenkman to grab this meatless option whenever available.

616 23rd St. NW. Open 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

 

2. Carvings’ Chicken Tenders + Fries

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

Selling tenders within their generous hours of operation, Carvings’ reputation for serving up American classics at dawn and dusk cannot be overlooked. At $13.50, the priciest of the non-dining hall options, Carvings delivers crispy chicken tenders alongside a heaping pile of equally crispy fries. 

The ease of its pull-apart texture and the palate-pleasing breading guarantees it a spot on the poultry podium. Although, the only factor holding the restaurant’s tenders from the top spot is its deficiency in proper seasoning compared to the rest of the pack. Regardless, Carvings’ chicken tenders remain a hearty option for tender lovers no matter the time of day.

2021 F St. NW. Open 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, Thursday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

 

1. Roaming Rooster’s Chicken Tenders

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director

From its city-trekking food truck to Foggy Bottom, Roaming Rooster’s has become a staple food vendor in Western Market with a variety of fried chicken meals to feast on. 

Their chicken tenders ($8.99), presented atop a bed of sliced bread and pickles, blow the rest of the competition out of the water. With four zesty options ranging from mild to extra hot, the chicken joint has something for everyone’s spice tolerance while providing a pleasantly piquant piece of poultry. Despite the less crispy exterior and the often double-digit minute wait times, Roaming Rooster’s reign in our rankings as the best chicken tenders in Foggy Bottom.

2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

 

Nicholas Anastácio | Community Relations Director
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About the Contributor
Nicholas Anastácio, Community Relations Director
Nicholas, a senior pursuing double degrees in political communication and data science, is the community relations director of The Hatchet for Vol. 120. He previously served as the graphics editor. He is from Lyndhurst, New Jersey.
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