Panera Bread

As of 2007, Panera was the only bagel bakery in our old hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, so it became something of a second home to us while we were living in what my parents call The Frozen North. Add free Wi-Fi and a couple laptops to the mix, and we went there so often that I eventually copied the color palette and painted our basement study to look like it, in hopes that we could summon the same relaxed vibe while working at home. (It sort of worked.) So when arriving in Fort Worth having already agreed to move here sight-unseen, it was reassuring to find that Cowtown had its own Panera. While it has never felt as friendly as the Youngstown outpost (I don’t know the name of a single staff member here but can tell you that and a whole lot more about the Panera staff in Youngstown), it’s still very, very good—for bagels, for special loaves to take to a dinner party, for soup and sandwiches (there are always meatless options), and most of all, for the egg & cheese grilled breakfast sandwich. It’s very simple—a fried egg and white cheddar on ciabatta, but the high-quality ingredients yield great results. Only problem is you’ll still be hungry for a pumpkin muffin after. Because of the crabby Wi-Fi rules that impose time limits on use during the lunch hours (and I get that the tables should be available for customers who have paid for something in the last hour), I try to go well before the lunch rush, when I can have my sandwich and my internet, too.

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