Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Swedish Alternative

When eating lunch or dinner in the tourist part of Solvang your choices are pretty much limited to the Danish restaurants that dot the street. For the everyday tourist this is great for getting the full Denmark experience, but for someone like me who has been here more then once, I’ve gotten past the need to eat a cuisine heavy in fat, meat, and fish. Although if this was your first time and you wanted the full Solvang treatment, I’d recommend either "Bit O’ Denmark" or "Solvang Restaurant." Both places offer menu items that are as authentic without actually flying to Denmark.

For this visit I was in the mood for something lighter so I turned to "Panino’s," a sandwich shop I stumbled into over a year ago with the goal of finding something non-Danish and not Subway. Panino’s sandwiches are gourmet and far from being even remotely similar to a fast food chain.

Walking in their menu items are written out on a large chalkboard that lists 30 sandwiches, 9 of which are vegetarian. They even have around 10 salads you can choose from. The process is simple: choose a number, pick a bread (whole wheat, ciabatta, or baguette), and place your order. They carry the "Kettle Chip" line of potato chips, and soda and beer comes in cans and bottles. When you’re done take a seat on the outdoor patio, pull up a chair, and wait for your food to be brought out to you.

I ordered the "sliced chicken with roasted red peppers and fresh garden basil" (#11, $7.95) on whole wheat.

My girlfriend settled on the "prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers" (#13, $7.95) on a ciabatta role.

Everything that went into my sandwich looked and tasted fresh. The lettuce was crisp, the red onions crunchy, and the red peppers a vibrant crimson hue. As for the chicken it was sliced into fine moist strips, and I was given neither a stingy nor a ridiculous amount. The taste of basil came through strongly and the honey mustard, while overly sweet, did compliment it nicely. Although the sweetness did become too much to handle by the second half, to which I remedied by ditching a lettuce leaf doused in it.

Still overall this was a great tasting sandwich and fit exactly what I was looking for. When you’re in Solvang and want something fast and different from where all the tourists are going, you can do no better then "Panino’s."
475 1st St.
Solvang, CA 93463
(805) 688-0608

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