As I was driving along the 73 freeway on the way to Fashion Island one day, I had done some thinking of where I should go for lunch. Subway? No. Pei Wei Asian Diner? Not in the mood. Baja Fresh? Eh…I’ll save that for another time. I was approaching the end of the 73 freeway hitting MacArthur Blvd., and I looked to my left, and there was a nice little shopping center called The Bluffs. They have a nice array of little restaurants such as Baja Fresh, Quizno’s, Islands, etc. But I wonder what a Carl’s Jr. was doing in there.
Anyway, I came up to this little “bread” place, called “Panera Bread” that I have never even heard of; a friend of mine actually referred me to this place (not at this location, though), and she told me that it has really great food there. So, I have decided to try this place out for myself. I pulled into the Bluffs parking lot (parking can be a pain in the tail sometime, so thank God for “complimentary valet parking”). I went inside Panera Bread, and there was somewhat of a line almost backing up to the front door. I thought to myself, “Wow, my friend was right. They must have really good food/service here.” No wonder it was rated as “#1 healthiest fast-food from ZAGAT.”
I flipped through Panera’s menu, and some of these sandwiches/paninis, etc. were pretty tempting. I went for the Cuban Chicken sandwich (hold the cheese), and the clerk asked if I was willing to wait for the sandwich to be “remade” without the cheese. I politely smiled, and responded with a “yes.” The sandwich itself can get a bit on the pricey side too, but hey, I was hungry, so I decided to go for the whole sandwich along with a complimentary bag of Panera’s kettle chips and a soda. Total cost? $10.06, tax included. Not too shabby.
As I have said, the place was pretty packed that day, so I had to take some time to find myself a place to sit. The atmosphere overall was comfortable for me to actually breathe, and the seating area was over par. Now, onto the sandwich.
Panera Bread will never disappoint you; if you want your sandwich with or without the ingredients you requested, the clerk and sandwich makers are always there to listen. My Cuban chicken came out just how I liked it. Not a taste of cold, dry chicken in there. The sweet bread and butter pickles had a nice crunch to it, and the bread? Two words: Toasty hot. The chipotle mayonnaise had a nice zing to it, but if I want to have a little more pep to my sandwich, I always add some hot and spicy mustard right on top of the chicken. Mmm-mmm good!
There are now a lot of Panera Breads out there in the continental United States, and if you try the sandwiches there, especially their grilled paninis, I can 100% guarantee that you will not regret the food, the service, as well as the atmosphere. If you want to find the closest Panera Bread in your area, go to: http://www.panerabread.com, and enter your zip code on the left side of the homepage. Happy Eating!