Idaho’s First Panera Bread (in Nampa)

chipotle chicken panini

This past week Idaho’s very first Panera Bread opened in Nampa, and I finally made it out there this evening. One of the things that saddened me when I got stationed in Idaho was that there were no Panera Bread’s in the entire state! How could that be?! Well I can finally get my Panera Bread fix twenty minutes outside of Boise. Previously I could only get my hands on the wonderful Chipotle Chicken Panini while I was on leave back in Pennsylvania or TDY to somewhere like Florida.

I’m glad Panera has finally made it to Idaho, however I do hope they open a store in Boise before too long so I don’t have to make the drive to Nampa. Something is better than nothing at least.

The experience was a little hectic, this being the location’s first Friday evening since it opened. The restaurant was packed and the line was long and slow moving. It seemed everyone had a lot of questions as they made it to the registers to order, which I can understand as many might not have ever eaten at a Panera before. There was a staff member handing out menus to those waiting in line and answering any questions they had which was nice, however I’m not sure it made things quicker. This wasn’t so much the staff’s fault, it was more slow moving customers, but again this was all to be expected.

I’m sure I’ll be making many more trips out to Nampa for Panera Bread lunches in the near future. Now if only Yuengling could make its way out here!

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Awake Caffeinated Chocolate!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

This morning, as I was picking up an after work snack, something caught my eye at the checkout. There was a display filled with Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bites, and I knew I had to try them. People love chocolate and people love caffeine, so why not combine the two? Each bite contains 50mg of caffeine, or roughly half a cup of coffee’s worth (according to the packaging). They were about $0.63 each, so I grabbed two.

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

 

The chocolate bites tasted smooth and very much like any other chocolate bar (nothing strange to them at all). I feel like they’d make a great companion for a cup of coffee if you want a little extra kick delivered via delicious chocolate. If you happen to see these bites (they also come in bars) at a checkout counter go ahead and give them a try, they’re quite enjoyable!

Awake Caffeinated Chocolate bite

How Yelp convinced me not to check out The Counter in Meridian

So when I’m looking to check out a new place to eat (or shop / drink etc.) the first place I usually check is Yelp. It’s incredibly useful to read other people’s reviews and to discover whether people tend to react positively or negatively to a business.

One such business I wanted to check out was The Counter, in Meridian. I had heard they have some pretty tasty burgers, however Yelp seems to tell a different story. The business has a 2.5 star rating after 54 reviews, so wasn’t off to a good start in the first place. However, the business owner’s response to one review in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.

The Counter Meridian

The tone of the business owner in this response does not come across as professional at all. Upon reading this response I decided I would not even give The Counter an opportunity to disprove its overwhelmingly negative reputation on Yelp. The owner also copy and pasted a rebuttal to several negative reviews, which comes across an impersonal attempt to save face.

So congratulations John H. of The Counter, you have succeeded in making me not want to frequent your restaurant. Heck, based off the Yelp reviews alone I probably still would’ve given the place a shot, but now I’ll never set foot in the place.

Mile High Bacon Thick Burger is not so thrilling

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I’ll give Carl’s Jr. some credit, they have some pretty interesting ads. One of their latest features a woman trying to entice passengers on a plane to join the “mile high club”.

I usually don’t eat Carl’s Jr. however today I happened to be with a group of people who chose to have lunch at one, so I figured I’d give their latest attraction a taste.

I tend to prefer local burger joints over fast food in the first place (Boise’s West Side Drive In is my favorite), so I never expect much from a fast food burger anyway. The mile high bacon thickburger, however, was more disappointing than expected. The burger was small, sloppy looking and incredibly bland. There was nothing special about it, there was no taste to it. It was ugly, boring and quite gross in the long run.

If there’s anything to be said it’s that clever advertising continues to work, even if the product isn’t worthwhile. Against my better judgement I chose what I assumed was the ‘new big thing’ over the more sensible choice of a grilled chicken salad. Hopefully you’ll resist the advertising if you ever happen to have to eat Carl’s Jr., the burger is not worth trying.

East Coast things I miss

Next Friday I head back to my home state of Pennsylvania and I’m excited to be around some of the things I miss about the East Coast. I’ve been stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho for nearly two years and although it’s been nice there are quite a few things I can’t get out here.

SheetzAltoonaPA

First there’s Sheetz, the one stop spot combines a gas station, convenience store, sandwich shop (MTO’s, or made-to-order sandwiches) and a coffee shop. I worked at a Sheetz in Red Lion, PA for nearly 6 years through college and up until I joined the Air Force. It was a great place to work, always bright, vibrant and alive even during the night shift. You had the chance to meet hundreds of interesting people a day in a fast paced environment. I also enjoyed the food. I’m excited to see what has changed since the last time I was home over a year ago. Things at Sheetz would change pretty often so there’s a good chance there will be quite a few new menu additions waiting for me when I stop in next Friday.

yuengling

Next up is Yuengling lager, which is also native to Pennsylvania. It’s been my favorite beer ever since I turned 21 and I’ve never found anything that rivals it. I remember one of the first times I went out while I was at Keesler AFB, Mississippi and I tried to order a Yuengling only to be met with confusion by the waitress. It was a devastating revelation to realize I wouldn’t have access to my favorite beer in other parts of the country.

panera

Panera Bread can be found all over the country, but for whatever reason there isn’t one in Idaho. Panera Bread is easily my favorite ”fast” restaurant and I’m quite excited to visit once or twice while I’m in the northeast.

I’m also excited to be able to visit D.C. and New York City with my girlfriend who has never been to the northeast. It should be a fun time! I just have to make it through four more days of work 🙂

Boise’s Westside Drive In

westside drive in

 

One of my favorite places to eat in Boise is the Westside Drive In which has been featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (video below). The food is amazing as are the milkshakes. Last night I had the Special Deluxe burger (1/4lb patty, special sauce, pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, slice of ham) and potato gems with fry sauce. It was absolutely delicious!

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If you ever find yourself in Boise I highly recommend you swing by the Westside Drive In and give the food and shakes a try, you won’t regret it!

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One of my favorite ‘quick fix’ meals

 

 

I know this is random, but I just wanted to share a love for one of my favorite late night meals. It starts with a jalapeno cheddar tortilla, then a few slices of provolone cheese, a handful of pepperonis and a few slices of ham.  Toss it in the microwave for a bit and you end up with something way better tasting than a Hot Pocket. I eat them without any sauces, but I imagine it wouldn’t taste bad with some pizza sauce added to the mix.

 

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