We tasted the new dinner offerings and the chain is doing it right.

By Megan Soll
June 19, 2019
Courtesy of Panera

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.

Courtesy of Panera

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.

Courtesy of Panera

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.)

Courtesy of Panera

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 Leton, 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.

Courtesy of Panera

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. 
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