Good, “Fast” Food

Posted on July 11, 2010. Filed under: Dining |

In the world of eating quickly, there’s not much to choose from. Most places are the exact same in price and selection. There’s nothing wrong with it in the chain’s eyes because it makes life simpler on the customers; takes away their need to actually think.  I used to be big into fast food myself because at that point in my life, I really liked the taste. After I had to start paying for things myself, I got out of fast food. Now, the only fast food I eat any more is drunk Taco Bell, Panera, and Chiplote. Taco Bell is just a guilty pleasure of mine. I know the food is terrible, it doesn’t taste that amazing, but if I’m drinking, that’s what I want.

I don’t eat Chiplote very much. It is on the expensive end and they don’t have the largest selection, but the food has a good flavor. It’s not at all a real Mexican food place, but it has done well. I think the only reason for that is because it is better quality than Taco bell and the average person who doesn’t like other Mexican food can eat there and actually find something to eat.

I’ve come to really love Panera. They have a large selection and, while their prices are a little high, you get a lot of food for what you pay. I’d like to think that Panera also has healthier food, but I choose not to find out and live in bliss. Normally my favorite item to eat there is the brocoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl. But, it’s summer, so I’ve been branching out. Recently (two days in a row actually, don’t judge!) I got their new mozerella basil salad and the Mederternian Veggie Sandwich. The salad has the perfect blend of greens with balls of mozerella, chopped tomato, basil and a baslmic vingerette. It’s a suprisingly filling salad, so I was shocked when I could eat half of my sandwich. The sandwich comes with onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese and a spicy hummus on their tomato basil bread. Thanks to the hummus, the sandwich has a spicy kick to it. I honestly couldn’t taste much of the other flavors because of the hummus the first time, but after being in the fridge over night, the second half of the sandwich mixed flavors and became a perfect symphony.

I’ve been trying to figure out why Panera has done so well. Sure, they’re famous cinnimon crunch bagles draw their own crowd, but that really isn’t enough. Sitting in the resturant it hit me. Panera has capitalized on the coffee shop atmosphere. There is comfortable seating, actual dishes, good lighting, free wifi, and of course, coffee. People often go to have meetings, work on homework, meet friends and even first coffee dates. And why not capitalize on that image? Coffee shops have long been a place to meet, but what makes them unique is that every coffee house is different. While they serve the same basic things, each of them have their own flair and niche in the community. As much as Panera can try, they won’t ever be able to completly copy that (that however does not mean I won’t be eating there, I still love their food!).

I started watching (and I say started because I’ve fallen asleep twice, not because it was boring though) Julie and Julia and I have to say, I’ve been inspired to try to cook more, once I get the time and money. Hopefully that means more recipes from me!

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