Panera Takes a Seat at the Dinner Table with Brand New Menu Items
We tasted the new dinner offerings and the chain is doing it right.
Panera Bread is a core fast casual option for breakfast and lunch in most of America, but now they’re taking on a new time of day: dinnertime. The chain is testing ten new items and a few completely new categories including flatbreads and dinner bowls. We’re always on board for new iterations of bread from the company (see: the double bread bowls), and we got a sneak peek of the dinner options to come. We're pleased to report that they did not disappoint.
Panera's items are heartier than the lunch fare, and made for families on-the-go who are looking for a filling meal that doesn’t feel like fast food (but also won’t break the bank.) The centerpieces are the made-from-scratch dinner bowls: a nut-free Pesto Chicken Bowl and a Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl, both of which taste fresh, filling and frankly as tasty as we’d hoped. The second new category are the artisan flatbreads including a margherita, steak and blue cheese and chipotle chicken and bacon versions. The crusts are crisp and the ingredients are well conceived, a great shareable option for big groups.
There are three signature sides that signal dinner in a big way. The Parmesan Broccoli, Tomato Basil and Cucumber Salad, and Sweet Potato Mash were all big hits, and also come in shareable sized portions. The dinner sandwich options are a toasted Tuscan grilled chicken sandwich and a grass-fed toasted pastrami sandwich (which we’d come back for the next day.)
Dinner items will be available from 4:30 to 10:00 PM as well as on all integrated digital ordering platforms. Panera has announced their first dinner test locations for the new items: Providence, Rhode Island starting in September and Lexington, Kentucky in July. Look out for a nationwide expansion, should these markets give their seal of approval. See below for the full details on the new dishes.
NEW Dinner Bowl Category:
- Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl: A warm bowl of tender, seared, roasted, teriyaki-glazed chicken served over a brown rice and quinoa blend and steamed broccoli. Topped with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
- Pesto Chicken Bowl: A warm bowl of tender, seared, roasted chicken served over a brown rice and quinoa blend, grape tomatoes, steamed fresh broccoli, fresh spinach, nut-free basil pesto and garlic cream sauce. Topped with grated parmesan and fresh lemon.
NEW Artisan Flatbread Category:
- Steak and Blue Cheese Artisan Flatbread: Grass-fed steak, caramelized onions, blue cheese, shredded fontina and mozzarella cheeses and garlic cream sauce baked crisp to order on our artisan flatbread. Topped with balsamic glaze and fresh arugula. o
- Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Artisan Flatbread: Smoked, pulled chicken, chopped bacon, grape tomatoes, shredded fontina and mozzarella cheeses with garlic- cream sauce baked crisp to order on artisan flatbread. Topped with chipotle aioli and fresh cilantro.
- Margherita Artisan Flatbread: Grape tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella and our fontina and mozzarella blend with tomato bell pepper sauce on artisan flatbread. Topped with fresh basil.
NEW Signature Sides Category:
- Parmesan Broccoli Side: Steamed fresh broccoli with garlic cream sauce, grated parmesan, salt and pepper
- Tomato Basil and Cucumber Salad Side: Sliced grape tomatoes and diced cucumber tossed in Greek dressing with fresh basil and sea salt.
- Sweet Potato Mash Side: Tender, mashed sweet potato topped with roasted pecan pieces and crunchy apple chips
NEW Hot and Hearty Sandwiches:
- Toasted Pastrami Sandwich: Grass Fed Pastrami topped with melted emmental cheese and creamy mustard sauce & caramelized onions on Artisan Ciabatta
- Toasted Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Citrus-pepper chicken alongside provolone, parmesan, arugula, smoky tomato confit and basil mayo, all toasted on an Artisan Ciabatta.