Southern Chat: My new craving for a healthier, fresher chicken sandwich

Something odd happened to me the other day. I was dining in a well-known chicken restaurant near my house for lunch, and found myself craving another restaurant's chicken sandwich instead.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich at PDQ in Raleigh

I would have rather had the crispy chicken sandwich from PDQ.

Before last month, I had never stepped into a PDQ, which stands for People Dedicated to Quality. PDQ is a fast casual restaurant specializing in hand-breaded chicken tenders, fresh-cut fries,salad, sandwiches, and hand-spun milkshakes. The restaurant began in Florida, and we now have a few locations in the Triangle.

I took my Mom and daughter with me to a media event at the restaurant's new Falls of the Neuse location in Raleigh. We toured the kitchen, and learned about the restaurant's commitment to making everything fresh and in-house with no preservatives.

Nothing is brought in to the restaurant frozen. Fries are cut and chicken is breaded on site.

I was impressed. MiMa, the food critic, was so  impressed that she took her neighbor there for lunch two days later. Because PDQ specializes in poultry, the menu is pretty straight-forward so don't go looking for a turkey Reuben or a burger, but you can find chicken tenders, grilled chicken, crispy turkey sandwiches, blueberry coleslaw, and hand-spun milkshakes that are delicious.

A sandwich, your choice of a side, and a drink is priced under $8.

My only complaint is there is not a location close enough to me yet so I'll have to make a point to get on that side of town from time to time.  There are seven PDQ locations in North Carolina, and an eighth location will open in Winston-Salem soon.

Parents, PDQ does not offer a play place so you will still have to go to the other chicken restaurant on occasion to do that, but I will say that my daughter polished off a chicken tender and a milkshake without any problem. She also loved being able to wash her hands at the hand-washing station.

My guess is if your child gets a hand-spun milk shake then she will forget all about those crazy slides. Don't forget. They have homemade cookies, too.

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