When you walk into Stanford Mall’s newest tenant, Tender Greens, you are greeted by friendly employees and earthy decor. The restaurant chain places an emphasis on fresh ingredients from local farms and interior design elements made from environmentally friendly products.

The first Tender Greens in the Bay Area opened in 2011 in Walnut Creek and slowly but surely, more Bay Area locations started to pop up.

Upon entering, one might be greeted by Sean Canavan, the Regional Chef of Tender Greens since 2012, who is in charge of the menu for the chain’s Bay Area locations and aims to ensure quality customer care.

“It was at least as far back as 2013 that we had our eye on Palo Alto.,” Canavan says. “[Stanford Mall] feels so authentic and it’s a great community. We’ve received an awesome, warm welcome from the community, from the people.”

According to Canavan, the chain looks to satisfy diners of all food preferences and diet restrictions, while ensuring that each visitor gets a balanced meal of proteins and greens. Tender Greens offers “Big Plates” which are $12 and made up of proteins such as steak, chicken or falafel. The protein can be simply plated or made into a sandwich; both versions are accompanied by a “Simple Salad,” composed of any choice of greens, from kale to iceberg lettuce. If greens are mostly what you’re after, the restaurant has an alternative: “Big Salads.” Each Big Salad is $12 and comes with various vegetables and a protein, thus successfully encompassing all aspects of a hearty meal.

Canavan says the restaurant’s success is due to its use of local and fresh ingredients and fine dining, made accessible to everyone.

“It’s sort of democratized fine food for anyone to afford. … We don’t employ any proteins that have hormones or antibiotics. We go GMO-free whenever we can; we pay a premium for it but it’s worth it to us. … We love our guests.”


Fried Chicken: (Big Plate): $12

The fried chicken isn’t anything special but still has a homemade charm to it. The meat is high-quality with subtle hints of rosemary and thyme. The outer layer of the chicken is crispy and nicely contrasts the chewy but tender meat inside.

Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Salad (Big Salad): $12  

The chicken salad is full of large; plain lettuce and is drizzled with a cilantro lime dressing. The chicken is marinated on the grill, leaving it with a smoky taste and chewy texture. The chipotle aspect was brought in with the tortilla strips dusted with spices.

Kale Simple Salad (Part of Big Plate) 

To make up for the fact that kale generally has a plain, bitter taste, the salad was freshly tossed with a garlic vinaigrette. The garlic enhances the greens and gives them a strong salty twist while still keeping the salad light.

Mashed Potatoes (Part of Big Plate) 

The mashed potatoes are rich and creamy and add a hearty aspect to the plate. The texture is perfect and airy, which adds a light touch to a pretty heavy meal.

Chocolate Chip Cookie: $2.50

The chocolate chip cookie is the perfect way to end any traditional American meal. Instead of the classic chocolate chips, this cookie was dotted with large chunks of dark chocolate. The bitter dark chocolate balances out the extremely sweet, buttery flavor of the cookie.

Peanut Butter Cookie: $2.50

The peanut butter cookie will satisfy any peanut butter lover. The cookie has a good nutty flavor and leaves a rich aftertaste of and cinnamon. 

Mint Lemonade: $2.75

The mint lemonade is quite sweet but still refreshing; the sour lemon taste is balanced by a tame mint flavor.