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Panera Bread - A Missouri-Based Franchise With Over 1,000 Locations Nationwide


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Dudes,

Could everyone sign in today and post about their most recent restaurant experience? I'm curious to see where people here have been dining. Hell, post on the McDonald's thread if you want to (I admit it - I went there once last week myself).

Cheers!

Rocks.

Had to fill the gap between work and improv class with some food, and I needed something well balanced, so the Ballston Food Court was out.

Up one level it was either Panera or Chicken Out, and we'd just had Boston Market the night before (to cure my hangover from an open bar at DC Coast).

Panera it was.

I enjoyed my frontega chicken and pleasantly overdressed greek salad. My wife had what amounted to a bruschetta salad served with little wedges of focaccia. The focaccia was definitely the highlight, with the tomatoes being just okay and the mozzarella being a bit firm for "fresh," almost like a hard swiss.

Their iced green tea was, as always, a refreshing treat.

Overall I think their baked goods are surprisingly good for a mall chain.

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I just finished a Tuscan Chicken sandwich, which is not bad. I'm working on a little of the cesar and greek salads. A pet food company is holding a CE seminar in our hospital today and bought us all lunch from Panera as a thankyou for the use of our conference room. For what it is, it's a decent lunch.

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But Panera tastes better. I like the black bean soup and the chicken/rice soup and the chicken noodle soup. Not all together, of course. Will I choose it over one of the restaurants in our standard rotation? Never. Am I jealous my cousin just had one open up right down the street from her? Tremendously.

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I went to Panera so much in college I got kind of tired of it for a while. And since there's none in downtown DC, it wasn't there to tempt me. However, now that I travel to Spotsylvania so much for work, I find myself there frequently to get food and use the free w-fi ;)

I love the turkey and artichoke panini but know that it is pretty unhealthy. Love the bacon turkey bravo too. And their new mushroom trio soup is quite tasty. I think they have changed their baguettes recently though cause the one I had yesterday was one of the densest pieces of bread I have ever had.

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Stopped in the other day for an iced tea break and saw they are now serving a Lobster sandwich (!?) for 16.99 (!?) or 6.99 for a half sandwich. The stranger in front of me in line and I had a good laugh at the idea of a Lobster sandwich at Panera.

Has anyone purchased this monstrosity?

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After several months of inactivity at Dupont, they are doing construction like madmen last few weeks. I would expect they'll be up and running shortly, at least by November 1. May seem optimistic as it still basically empty but they have a big team and I see the corporate guys out there every day checking on things.

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Oh, it was $18 for my meal with the asparagus upcharge, a price I find quite reasonable considering that Panera is now offering a lobster sandwich for $15. Yes, you read that right, Panera. Lobster roll. $15. B)

No, I actually didn't read this right. When I read this about an hour ago, I honestly thought you had typed "Palena." It wasn't until Ferhat's post when I realized what you had said!

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I usually go to Panera once every 2 weeks. When I visited my family in Gainesville I would eat there much more frequently because the dining options were very limited. It does get expensive at times, especially if you take advantage of the 1/2 + 1/2 special and get "signature" instead of "cafe" options. I usually stick to a few dishes and when I've strayed in the past it hasn't ended well.

  • Iced Green tea with a little lemonade
  • Asian Chicken Salad
  • Chicken Noodle or Summer Corn Chowder Soup
  • Mediterranean Veggie sandwich (surprisingly filling for a vegetarian sandwich! Just don't kiss anyone after)

I don't care for the baked goods at all. I bet it varies by location, but the Gainesville, Herndon, Fairfax, Manassas, and Tysons ones are extremely dry. I wouldn't mind as much except on a recent visit to the Tysons location with my family, I bore witness to them filling 2 industrial sized garbage bags with bread, cookies, and bagels that they were just throwing away. I confronted them about it, offering to take it off their hands and donate it, but they just said "We used to donate it. We don't now."

*Sigh* I just wish there were more options in the Chantilly/Herndon area for dining other than Sila Thai, Super Pho, Noodles & Co, Pei Wei, Santini's, and Panera. Did I mention my cafeteria at work sucks? The options for eating out ~3 times a week in that area are horrible, and quickly exhausted. Aaaand, I don't want to eat fast food more than once a few months or else I might have a heart attack.

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This probably explains why younger daughter likes their bagels and if you can make kids happy you are getting the family business.

My 5 year old adores Panera. And this isn't a kid that eats a lot of processed food. But he'd eat at Panera every day if we let him. In fact when we went to Disney World, he picked Panera over pizza at Disney Hollywood Studios.

He usually gets the chicken noodle soup. Once in a while he opts for the cheddar broccoli or I'll order it and he'll eat half of it. He claims to like the mac and cheese but he rarely eats more than half. The one time he ordered the grilled cheese he ate it so fast I was stunned. He gets something from the bakery section maybe once every 10 trips so that isn't the origin of his obsession. (It is next door to Krispy Kreme though and Mr. BLB will almost always let him get a donut when they go so there is some positive conditioning going on there...)

I've tried most of the salads and I'm not a fan.

Now if they served the Gooey Butter Cake pastry that the St. Louis stores sell (where it still goes by St. Louis Bread Company, which also delighted the little guy), I'd be there every day. And weight 300 pounds...

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Aaaand, I don't want to eat fast food more than once a few months or else I might have a heart attack.

This is the biggest farce about Panera - its really no different nutrition wise from fast food, and often higher in calories. That Asian Chicken Salad you like? 23 grams of fat, 470 calories and that's without dressing that adds another 9 grams, 110 calories. None of McDonald's salads have that many calories or grams of fat. Nor does the Filet o' Fish or a double cheeseburger. That salad is on par with the nutrition facts of a Big Mac, at 550 calories and 29 grams of fat.

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This is the biggest farce about Panera - its really no different nutrition wise from fast food, and often higher in calories. That Asian Chicken Salad you like? 23 grams of fat, 470 calories and that's without dressing that adds another 9 grams, 110 calories. None of McDonald's salads have that many calories or grams of fat. Nor does the Filet o' Fish or a double cheeseburger. That salad is on par with the nutrition facts of a Big Mac, at 550 calories and 29 grams of fat.

I am not Paneradvocate, but similar calories + similar fat content does not = similar nutrition. I'd take lettuce, produce, leaner meat, and heart-healthy olive oil fats from a salad over WhiteFlourChemicalsAndSatFatFest just about any day. So salad (assuming non-lethal dressing) over burgers or fried fish for sure, but if McD's salads are more nutrient-packed, fewer additives/preservatives, and less calorically-intensive than Panera, that's a fascinating and unexpected data point.

The lens of calories and fat reminds me of a time when I was a counselor at a YMCA camp. The kids would race off to get their mid-day snacks, and the calorie-conscious teens would consistently choose a 3 Musketeers over an organically certified, Omega-3 (ground flax seed), fiber-rich (oats) and protein-packed (nuts) granola bar because the candy bar had 50 fewer calories and a few less grams of fat. They even said "the granola bar is delicious but who wants all that fat?" *face palm*

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New location in Chinatown on H Street has a sign stating they open Thursday January 3 @ 6am. I've always like their chicken noodle soup. They used to have a toffee chip cookie that was pretty good too.

That stretch of H Street also has a Yo Sushi that looks close to open and the Walgreens finally is making progress.

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Needing a quick sandwich after work today I stopped in the new Panera at Metro Center (13th and G). Hands down the worst sandwich I've had in DC in recent memory.

The Mediterranean - a piece of romaine, two slices of tomato, three slices of cucumber, some hot peppers, red onion, and a smear of something vaguely mayo-ish. What the hell makes this a "Mediterranean" sandwich? Because they sprinkled some fucking feta on it?

This sandwich was insulting. I was actually pissed off after eating half of it. How this company is a $1.8 billion revenue company boggles the mind.

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Needing a quick sandwich after work today I stopped in the new Panera at Metro Center (13th and G). Hands down the worst sandwich I've had in DC in recent memory.

The Mediterranean - a piece of romaine, two slices of tomato, three slices of cucumber, some hot peppers, red onion, and a smear of something vaguely mayo-ish. What the hell makes this a "Mediterranean" sandwich? Because they sprinkled some fucking feta on it?

This sandwich was insulting. I was actually pissed off after eating half of it. How this company is a $1.8 billion revenue company boggles the mind.

I am hanging my head in self disgust.  My wife and I had lunch at Panera today.  I had a lentil quinoa chicken broth bowl that I enjoyed and she had a genuinely awful ham/chicken/cheese flatbread that I didn't even want to look at much less help her eat.  Their broth bowls are supposedly nutricious (how can kale not be?) and actually quite decent.  But my one small bite of the flatbread was worthy of a nightmare.

Of course I added three packets of Tabasco and two wedges of lemon to the broth bowl...

And most of the flatbread was thrown in the trashcan.

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On 10/29/2015 at 11:19 PM, Tweaked said:

Needing a quick sandwich after work today I stopped in the new Panera at Metro Center (13th and G). Hands down the worst sandwich I've had in DC in recent memory.

The Mediterranean - a piece of romaine, two slices of tomato, three slices of cucumber, some hot peppers, red onion, and a smear of something vaguely mayo-ish. What the hell makes this a "Mediterranean" sandwich? Because they sprinkled some fucking feta on it?

This sandwich was insulting. I was actually pissed off after eating half of it. How this company is a $1.8 billion revenue company boggles the mind.

When St. Louis Bread Company first opened, the breads were quite good - not Fresh Baguette or BreadFurst level good, but close.  Quality and 1,900 stores are really not things that go well together.

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1 hour ago, sandynva said:

The St. Louis bread company was the first " real"  bread I'd ever had, and the moist elastic crumb , and chewy crisp crust were a revelation compared to the shelf stable sliced bread I was used to 

I did not know that Panera had its roots in Au Bon Pain - there used to be one in the decrepit L'Enfant Plaza shopping mall back in the mid-1980s. My 24-year-old self actually enjoyed getting a croissant there in the mornings.

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15 hours ago, sandynva said:

The St. Louis bread company was the first " real"  bread I'd ever had, and the moist elastic crumb , and chewy crisp crust were a revelation compared to the shelf stable sliced bread I was used to 

I'm with you there - the second one was blocks from my house in the Loop.  We shopped for bread twice a week for the first few years.

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13 hours ago, saf said:

I remember a Vie de France there - although that was probably the early 90s.

That was by the USDA graduate school - the northernmost entrance to the metro. Maybe the Au Bon Pain was over behind HUD?

You're right - I might be thinking about Overstreet Mall in Charlotte, NC (both were within a year of each other).

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In news that delves into the absurd, Panera is buying Au Bon Pain.  Delving into history here, St. Louis Bread company was purchased by Au Bon Pain, which renamed itself Panera after selling off the Au Bon Pain business to an outside group.  Guess what's old is new again. 

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12 hours ago, zgast said:

In news that delves into the absurd, Panera is buying Au Bon Pain.  Delving into history here, St. Louis Bread company was purchased by Au Bon Pain, which renamed itself Panera after selling off the Au Bon Pain business to an outside group.  Guess what's old is new again. 

ABP was my iced coffee go-to for my Boston-Brookline-Cambridge years in the mid-80s. I have gone much less here in DC ever since they started putting the calorie counts on everything. 

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