How to Access the Hidden Menu at Panera



I don't eat out at Panera very often, but I can't say that I have anything against them. They're a very solid chain that serves exactly what they promise at fairly decent prices. Their locations are in the right spots for heavy traffic and service is better than average. Maybe I don't stop in often because all these factors make it seem kinda boring to me.

But now I've found that Panera has a secret they've been holding out on us. Like other restaurants that have covert menu items that you have to be in the know to order, Panera has recently rolled out a "hidden menu." But don't expect over the top options like the "Animal Fries" at In-N-Out Burger served with cheese, a Thousand Island-type spread, grilled onions and pickles as toppings or a "McKinley Mac," which is a Big Mac made with Quarter Pounder patties.

At Panera, even the secret menu is sort of dull. They offer six "Power" options, with two earmarked for each major meal of the day. The "Power Breakfasts" feature an egg white scramble in a bowl with spinach and turkey as well as a dish of two fried eggs with sliced sirloin and avocado. Behold the "Power!" Lunch doesn't get much more exciting with two "secret" Mediterranean salads topped with chicken or turkey. I'm starting to nod off as I type the dinner options of a "Power Chicken Hummus Bowl" and some steak lettuce wraps, although the combination of chick peas and chicks as a power dish is mildly amusing.

So how do you access these powerful secret items? Do you have to know the secret code word or give a "shave and a haircut" knock on the counter before you order? Nope, according to Scott Davis, the Chief Concept Officer at Panera (a title that sounds like perfect fodder for a future episode of "Undercover Boss"), all you have to do is "just tell one of our associates that you're ordering from the 'Hidden Menu,' and they'll take care of it from there." Wow, that's some James Bond kinda stuff right there.

The other thing I learned about this hidden menu is that it is not available in Canada. Apparently they just can't handle that sort of power in the Great White North.

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