Friday, May 05, 2006

Panera, Cupertino

About two weeks ago, I got my hair cut by a woman who happens to be a Cupertino native. So, since I work in the area, I asked her what's good to eat around here. "PANERA!" she exclaimed, adding that she "craves their bread all the time."

So I finally gave it a try today, and you know what? Her enthusiasm is well-placed. At around noon today, Panera was crazy-crowded with young student-types, older office-worker-types -- the usual weekday crowd in Cupertino. The cafe/bakery has only been open a few months, so it's still quite clean and nice. The menu offers a good selection of breads, pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches. There were five of us dining today, and here's how our orders broke down:

  • Me: Roast beef sandwich, which came on a delicious Asiago bread -- which would have been even better if it was toasted for a crunchier melted cheesy top.
  • Coworker #1: Chicken panini, which he said was tasty, but deemed too small.
  • Coworker #2: Pepperblue steak sandwich, which was pretty skimpy on the steak, but had a good flavor.
  • Coworker #3: Half-sandwich plus a bowl of soup combination. He opted for the French Onion soup, but they have about half a dozen to choose from every day.
  • Coworker #4: Half-sandwich plus a small salad combination. He chose the Fuji apple chicken salad, which looked -- and apparently tasted -- quite good.
Each of our lunches came with a small bag of Krunchers kettle chips (thumbs up for those). Everyone enjoyed their meal, and we all agreed that the best deal was the "You Pick Two" -- choosing between the bowl of soup, half sandwich, half salad. I think they were about $7, which is barely more than the cost of a sandwich, but it seemed like they made for a much more substantial lunch.

Although it was a little too warm today for me to consider a soup, I am looking forward to trying Panera's. Another coworker, who had visited earlier in the week, highly recommended the broccoli cheddar soup -- which is served daily.

Service was fine at Panera, with our orders coming up surprisingly quickly considering how busy it gets. I think this place is going in our regular lunch rotation. Now that we've discovered it, we'll never have to eat at LeBoulanger again!

20807 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Cupertino, CA
(408) 996-9131