Bartow: Tom’s Chicken Shack

Santa Claus and reindeer decoration in front of city hall in Bartow, FloridaWe visited Bartow on a recent Saturday.  It’s a lovely little downtown area with a number of antique shops.  And we’re at that time of year when holiday decorations add to the festivity.

Our primary purpose was lunch at Tom’s Chicken Shack, a business that has been around since 1982.  Tom’s is not a large restaurant, most customers we saw were picking up food for take out.  It’s a very basic restaurant inside.  There are a few tables both inside and out, depending on your mood.

Tom's Chicken Shack restaurant exterior, Bartow, FloridaThe young woman who took our order  and brought our food out was very pleasant.  We commented that we were there earlier than most people eat lunch, she agreed that it never hurt to beat the crowd (in fact, a number of folks showed up right after we ordered our food).  This is a good time to mention that Tom’s Chicken Shack opens at 10AM every day except Sunday, especially convenient if you are looking to pick up food for a picnic.

We did not have to wait long for our food.  It’s worth mentioning that there was some food (we didn’t see what, specifically), under heat lamps in the restaurant.  I’ve seen a few online reviewers who were unhappy with their food because it had been under the heat lamps too long.  We didn’t see whether ours came from there or not, but it tasted freshly made to us.

The menu includes chTom's Chicken Shack restaurant interior, Bartow, Floridaicken in multiple forms (wings, nuggets, livers, gizzards, etc.), fish, and shrimp, with a variety of sides.  My wife ordered a chicken nugget dinner, which includes 2 sides – she chose baked beans and macaroni salad.  I can’t remember the last time I had gizzards (probably childhood), so I ordered the half-pound chicken gizzard dinner with baked beans and potato salad as my sides.  Iced tea and Diet Coke to drink; our beverage choices were primarily iced tea and fountain drinks – my only complaint about the experience is that they did not offer bottled water.  (If you want to know what a “gizzard” really is, Wikipedia is a good start. Personally, I feel that ignorance is perhaps bliss on this subject.)

Chicken nuggets, baked beans, and macaroni salad, at Tom's Chicken Shack restaurant in Bartow, FloridaOur food was truly delicious.  It will not appeal to you if you don’t like fried food, but we enjoyed the entire meal.  The sides were tasty.  The breading on our various chicken parts was only mildly spicy, exactly as we like it.  The breading was perhaps a bit heavy on salt for our taste, but otherwise it was all excellent.  Each meal also came with a dinner roll.  Heart food and plenty of it, we had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Chicken gizzards, baked beans, and potato salad, at Tom's Chicken Shack in Bartow, FloridaA repeat of last week’s Planet Grilled Cheese tip confusion – there was no opportunity to leave a tip on our credit card and no tip jar visible (in hindsight we could have left a cash tip on the table, and I’m sorry we didn’t think of that).  Our total came to just over $22.  A great price for the amount of good-tasting food we received.  Tom’s Chicken Shack is another excellent Polk County restaurant we look forward to returning to.  They are near downtown Bartow, on East Main Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.  Just the place for lunch before or after browsing the antique stores along Main Street.

If we have inspired you to visit the Tom’s Chicken Shack, or if you have already been and want to share your experience, please do so via the comments section below.  And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, we would love to hear from you via our Contact Us page.  Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!

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