My wife and I had lunch at PDQ in Lakeland recently. PDQ is a national chain, and the letters stand for “People Dedicated to Quality.” The first PDQ actually opened in nearby Tampa, Florida, and they currently list locations in 12 states, with most of them in Florida.
We immediately loved the interior of the restaurant, a contemporary decor with lots of windows and an elevated ceiling to let in natural light. They were playing music at too loud a volume for our liking, that’s one of my pet peeves about restaurants, and my only complaint about our PDQ experience. Food is ordered at a counter, fast-food style, then brought out to the tables. There is also a drive through. The menu consists mainly of chicken in different forms – tenders, sandwiches, chicken-based salads, etc. I ordered a honey butter chicken sandwich and my wife ordered a southern pimento crunch chicken sandwich (the southern pimento crunch sandwich is identified on their web site as a seasonal item that may not be available at all locations). We ordered a side of zucchini fries to share – PDQ offers a variety of dipping sauces, we asked for ranch with our fries.
One thing that attracted us to PDQ is that they offer milkshakes! My wife went with the heath milkshake. I was about to order a chocolate peanut butter shake when I noticed an unidentified “seasonal” shake on the menu. When I asked, I was told apple pie is the current offering, so I chose that. What a wonderful surprise. The shakes were brought out first, and these were some of the best shakes we’ve ever had. Certainly better than we expected from a chain restaurant. My wife enjoyed hers, but the apple pie shake was the real winner. According to the web site, the shake contains apple pie filling, cinnamon crumbles, and apple butter. What it tasted like is apple pie a la mode, just with more ice cream than usual. Honestly, if you love milkshakes and can get to PDQ, it’s worth going just for the apple pie milkshake.
We didn’t have to wait long for our food. At first I felt the portions looked a little small, but they ended up working out just right. The zucchini fries were lightly breaded and quite good, especially with the ranch dipping sauce. We were both very happy with our sandwiches. The honey butter on mine had a very nice flavor. My sandwich included butter pickle slices, and I did feel that those could have been a little more substantial. As you can see from the photo below, my wife’s sandwich included potato chips, in addition to bacon, cheddar cheese, and lettuce – the chips added a nice crunch that complimented the other flavors. PDQ’s web site claims that the food is fresh, not frozen, and to us everything tasted freshly made.
We specifically asked a woman who we think was a manager or shift manager about leaving a tip on the table. She told us they don’t accept tips, which was a surprise but understandable considering it’s something of a fast food format restaurant. It’s worth noting that we had very friendly service at PDQ, and all the employees we observed seemed to be enjoying their work. Our total came to just over $22, certainly more than you would pay at a fast food chain, but the food was definitely of better quality, and those shakes were well worth it.
Except for the loud music, we were quite satisfied with the whole experience at PDQ and look forward to returning. Their Lakeland location is on South Florida Avenue, just on the north side of the Lake Miriam Square shopping center. Check out the milkshake options when you go!
If we have inspired you to visit PDQ, 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!