The Good Stuff:
Because Panera made its name on sandwiches and soups, let's start there. The belle of the sandwich ball was the classic Roasted Turkey, Apple, and Cheddar. Though I'm squeamish at sliced meats at large chains, the turkey wasn't weirdly moist, and the combination of the sweetness of the cranberry walnut bread plus apple and cabbage slaw with the acid and tang of the mustard horseradish and peppery arugula checked all proper boxes. I also found the "Heritage" (read: aimed at older folks) Ham & Swiss with maple mustard rather delicious, especially after they accidentally added pickled red onions to my order.
The best soup, by far, was the Bistro French Onion. When I received the bowl, with shredded cheese and croutons on top, I was a little upset, as I'd grown up on the French onion soup bowls entirely covered in cheese and one solid piece of bread that you have to break through like the opposite of a frozen Minnesota lake, but it was actually an easier, more enjoyable way to eat, and the broth had a deep, impressive onion flavor.
Salad-wise, the Spicy Thai with chicken was the overwhelming favorite, thanks to a mishmash of flavors from the chili vinaigrette and peanut sauce, the crunch of the wontons and roasted cashews, and the flavor of chicken, which looked hand-pulled. I don't know if I'd describe it as "spicy," but let's not deal with semantics.
When I showed a friend a picture of my BBQ Chicken Flatbread, she remarked it looked like someone had walked on the bread with cleats. But despite the aesthetic issues, it was actually pretty delicious, with a tangy BBQ sauce that was sweet, but not overly so, and the addition of spinach leaves that at first seemed random but gave a little bit of peppery bite to balance the mozzarella and smoked Gouda.