Gluten-Free at Panera Bread? The Secret Menu

Panera Bread Secret Menu - Gluten Free

Panera Bread Secret Menu – Gluten Free

 

My meeting was scheduled today at Panera Bread so I planned to eat something before I got there and then I could just grab a hot tea, but of course I left my food on the counter at my house and ended up wondering what I would do. Eating gluten-free at Panera Bread is extremely challenging and risky!

I’ve eaten at Panera Bread before and typically just have the black bean soup and some kettle chips. It’s pretty much playing a game of Russian Roulette because of the high risk of contamination from the bread crumbs all over the place. I would say if you are extremely sensitive, stay away from Panera.

When I got to the counter, I ordered the soup, only to find out they didn’t have it today. So I asked the lady to see the nutrition menu so I could see what other options I could have. Mainly I was looking for a salad since I wasn’t sure about anything else.

She then directed me to get my own menu from the front door. I explained to her that the nutrition is in a binder behind the counter and not on the menu. Another cashier helped her and was very friendly. While perusing the allergen list for a bit and not finding anything, I almost settled for 2 bags of kettle chips to hold me over. But, what did I notice, something called “Power Steak Lettuce Wraps.” I used to work at Panera and know that sometimes they come out with seasonal items so I asked if they had that. The girl said “Oh yeah, it’s on our secret menu.” Really? I’ve never heard of it.

After ordering the gluten-free meal, the lady asked me if I wanted a pastry or dessert to go with my meal. AND THEN came around while I was eating and offered me a bite of the pastry they were sampling for the day. I mean seriously folks, get it together!

Wait, actually one of our members at Bexa Body Fitness mentioned that they had this secret menu but I didn’t have time to look to see what is on it. Needless to say I was pretty excited. Most of the items on this menu are full of protein and veggies with limited or no carbs. Here is what is on the menu:

1. Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey
2. Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak
3. Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
4. Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad
5. Power Chicken Hummus Bowl
6. Power Steak Lettuce Wraps

Secret Menu Steak Lettuce Wraps

Secret Menu Steak Lettuce Wraps

Again, I can’t emphasize this enough that there is a high chance of cross contamination at Panera and you run the risk of young teens handling your food and maybe not being as careful as they should when preparing your meal. BUT, I will say this was the best meal I’ve had at Panera in a long time. It was fantastic. The steak was tender and juicy, everything was fresh and I really enjoyed the light, refreshing meal.

Secret menus seem to be the trend and it’s no wonder why Panera jumped on board. I just wish that eating healthy wasn’t a secret and they would post these items on their regular menu for people to order from. This goes right into my post from yesterday about eating clean being a dirty concept. Why on earth are the amazing, fresh and delicious items on the “secret menu.”

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Comments

  1. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting this! I usually bring a lunch to work but there are days I forget it, and the ONLY place I can get to, eat, and get back in time is Eat-n-Park. They do a good job, but this give me some variety!

  2. Marilyn Merrill says:

    Wish they had an eat-n-park in this area.

  3. When you go to Panera website it says there is wheat in both the breakfast bowls.

  4. umm, panera does not have these items on a secret menu due to “eating clean being a dirty concept”. please. the restaurant keeps these items on a hidden menu because the word BREAD is in the restaurant’s name. Panera Bread (born of a buyout by Au Bon Pain [bread] of St. Louis Bread Co. [more bread]) was built around meals that contain bread as an ingredient or a side, or contain carbs in some form (hence their pastas). it is a part of their marketing strategy… carbed-up meals are more fitting to the warm, cozy atmosphere they try to evoke in their bakery-cafes.

    considering these new carb-free power items from a marketing standpoint, it would be completely intrusive to their whole image to throw these items on the menu as new additions without testing their reception and popularity first. the hidden menu is their way of trial-running these items to see if they could in fact be consistent with the panera image and become regular menu items.

    also, they have little “scan here to find out about our hidden menu” QC codes all over the register signage. even if one doesn’t have a smart phone, one could easily spot one of these and ask the cash register.

    it’s really not all as “hidden” as it seems.

  5. I spoke to Panera client services in St. Louis for about a half hour making the case for outsourcing gluten free products that they could offer. Their whole thing is that producing their own product is economically impossible. I just think they are lazy and 2 years behind the major food trends in this country. Just because they have a lot of stores doesn’t mean they are smart innovators and forward looking business people. It’s really discouraging to see that their so called “Gluten free menu ” is really just regular entree items sans gluten. Really? That’s the best they have for a major food manufacturer? Either they innovate or they will eventually go away in time.

  6. Thank you for posting this info. I have a lunch meeting for work at Panera coming up and I was thinking that I would not have many options. Now it looks like I can actually eat a substantial meal there along with my colleagues. Thank you!

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