Panera, IHOP and Snooze introduce winter warmers

Taste Tracker: Bowls rule at Bojangles; Walk-Ons, Smalls Sliders and PJ’s Coffee kick off Mardi Gras; health is on the menu at Next Level Burger and Nekter Juice Bar; and more food and drink news of the week.
Photos courtesy of the brands

Many restaurants are helping customers beat the winter chill with plenty of warm and comforting menu items. But others are offering LTOs that promote wellness to counteract holiday overindulgence.

Panera Bread added two new sourdough melts to its hot sandwich lineup. The Bacon Avocado Melt features applewood smoked bacon, avocado, smoked gouda, everything bagel seasoning and chipotle aioli, while the Southwest Chicken Melt combines smoked pulled chicken, smoked gouda, red onion, cilantro and chipotle aioli. Both are layered on toasted Country Rustic Sourdough. On Jan. 17, Panera is giving away 1,000 free melts for National Ditch Your Resolution Day.

Cozy breakfasts are naturally the focus for IHOP and Snooze A.M. Eatery. The former is reintroducing its Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity Combo with a choice of Belgian waffles, French toast or crepes in addition to pancakes. Combos are available in classic strawberry, blueberry compote, seasonal mixed berry topping and cinnamon apple flavors. Snooze caters to the Monday-Friday morning crowd with the launch of its new Weekday Eats program. The menu features smaller breakfast portions at smaller prices ($7-$8.50.) Guests can order Juan’s Two Taco Breakfast, Half Ham Benedict, Half Bravocado Toast and single pancakes.

At Another Broken Egg, winter breakfasts are all about indulgence. The seasonal selection includes a Deep South Biscuit Sandwich with crispy chicken, pimento cheese, egg and bacon jam, as well as Lemon Pound Cake French Toast, a S’mores Waffle and Creole Shrimp Benedict.

A hearty Chicken Rice Bowl is the latest addition to the menu at Bojangles. It starts with a base of dirty rice, with slow-cooked Cajun pinto beans and shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses layered on next. Guests can have the bowl topped with diced grilled chicken breast or crispy fried chicken tenders.

Mardi Gras runs through Feb. 13 and several chains are offering themed food-and-drink specials. New Orleans-born PJ’s Coffee has a brightly colored King Cake on the menu along with three beverages infused with cinnamon and vanilla, the classic King Cake flavors. King Cake Latte and King Cake Velvet Ice also have a dash of purple sprinkles, while King Cake Cold Brew Shaken Espresso is topped with chilled cream.

Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, also based in Mardi Gras territory, is kicking off Carnival season with a “Making Every Tuesday Fat Tuesday” promotion. Limited-time menu items priced at $5 each will be available on Tuesdays through Feb. 13. Choices include Beignet Bites, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding, Louisiana Kick Wings and a Death Valley cocktail. And Smalls Sliders is whipping up a King Cake Shake to celebrate. It’s a blend of the cake’s signature baked dough, cinnamon and icing.

In other beverage news, Dutch Bros is packing in the protein with its Salted Caramel Protein Latte and Salted Caramel Protein Mocha. Each LTO boasts 20 grams of protein and no added sugar. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is bringing back its popular Dark Chocolate Ice Blended drink and White Chocolate Latte. For nondairy fans, there’s an all plant-based Vanilla Spiced Oat Latte.

For those trying to stick to healthy new year resolutions, Nekter Juice Bar has the Burn Berry Burn Raspberry Smoothie and Burn Berry Burn Raspberry Bowl. Each was created to help boost metabolism, enhance immunity and increase energy with antioxidant- and nutrient-rich ingredients. Nekter also offers several high-protein superfood smoothies and functional bowls geared to pre- and post-workout snacking.

Over at Next Level Burger, a Superfood Burger and Shake Duo is also designed with functional health benefits. The Blue Zones Burger starts with a signature mushroom and quinoa patty that’s topped with tempeh bacon, organic avocado, organic pickles and microgreens served on a sprouted grain bun and garnished with house-made yogurt sauce. The Superfood Smoothie Shake blends coconut or soy soft serve with fruit, chia seeds, cashew yogurt and pumpkin seed protein.

January brings the Detox Bowl back to Rush Bowls, giving consumers another way to get the year off to a healthy start. It’s made with banana, apple, pitaya, lemon, ginger, cinnamon and oat milk, then topped with fresh apple slices and pomegranate seeds. The ingredients provide hydration, immunity boosters and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Watch the video to see these January specials in action.


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