March 23, 2011

Panera on the Road

thai chicken salad

One of things I love about traveling is finding new places to eat and restaurants to explore. It is always interesting to find places that are the hallmark of a particular region like barbecue in the South, or tacos in Southern California. However, when I am traveling with kids on a dreary day down a major highway sometimes I just want to eat at some place that is familiar. Not as in golden-arches familiar, but a restaurant where I know we can get healthy food that will be nourishing and delicious.

As you can guess, last week when we were on a little road trip this very scenario happened to me. The weather was less than stellar, my daughter was grumpy with hunger and I needed a place to stop and rest. As luck would have it I spotted a Panera Bread sign on 95N just as I was reaching my limit and we pulled off immediately. Entering Panera was like entering a familiar, happy restaurant I knew would cure all ills. My daughter was ecstatic to start in her grilled cheese while I protein-loaded on the new Thai Chicken Salad (yum!). We both gulped down our lemonade (I am addicted) and then I got a hot chai to go while my daughter indulged in an iced Easter cookie.

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Our stop took all of thirty minutes, but it was a thirty minutes that made all the difference. We had entered grumpy and frustrated at our long road trip, and left calmed and happy after a healthy, fulfilling meal. We leave for vacation next week and I am sure there will be some Panera locations where we visit. I am glad to know they will be there.

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