I’m trying to stay away from fast food restaurants, especially during the work week. I find it hard sometimes to make a decision about what to have for lunch, especially when I realize I haven’t had lunch yet and it’s 2:30 pm in the afternoon. I want something fresh, healthy and reasonable in price, but most importantly, full of flavor. Panini Cafe for me is all of these things and is one of my favorite lunch spots in the West Valley. Located in Woodland Hills at Victory & Owensmouth, Panini Cafe sits at the end of a “mini mall” which includes the Nordstrom’s Rack. There is adequate parking and boasts indoor and outdoor seating. When you walk indoors, it’s bright, inviting and the walls are graced with pictures from Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean spots. The staff is friendly and the restaurant is always busy.
Panini Cafe has an extensive menu, offering up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Salads, soup, Mediterranean appetizers, grilled paninis (19 different paninis!), wraps and entrees grace their lunch menu. Their dinner menu also includes pasta dishes such as homemade lasagna and chicken linguini. Breakfast boasts a full menu–scrambles and poached dishes, omelettes, breakfast combos and sides. And if you are craving something sweet, you have your choice of tiramisu, banana bread pudding, Ghiradelli chocolate zucotto cake, and baklava! Whew! I think I just gained 20 pounds by talking about the menu!
On this particular day, I had lunch with my dear friend and business colleague Jeanette. She wanted something healthy that also included protein and Panini Cafe came to mind. After studying the menu, Jeanette chose the Fresh Salmon Kabob plate:
The dish is served with a skewer of grilled vegetables, your choice of either basmati rice or organic bulgar pilaf and your choice between three salads: Caesar, Mediterranean Greek or Romaine Avocado. Jeanette opted for the Mediterranean Greek salad and skipped the rice/pilaf option. The portions here are large so you definitely get your money’s worth. According to their menu, the Fresh Salmon Kabob entree is highly recommended and at $14.95, a pretty palatable deal.
I decided to go with something different. This was my fourth outing here and I usually order a grilled panini. Looking around the restaurant and seeing what other people were ordering, I decided on the Mousaka:
Wow! I was not prepared for the amount of food that was placed in front of me. The Mousaka ($11.95) was seasoned ground sirloin topped with a roasted eggplant, Mediterranean salsa and olive oil. I had the same rice and salad option so I chose the organic bulgar pilaf and the caesar salad. This dish also came with hummus, tatziki and pita bread triangles. The entire dish was flavorful and filling to say the least and the hummus was perfect! I really enjoyed this dish and the roasted eggplant was a perfect accompaniment to the mousaka.
Seated next to us were Deanne and Heather. Both were gracious in allowing me to capture their culinary moment at Panini Cafe. Deanne opted for the Mediterranean Salmon Salad. Again, highly recommended by Panini Cafe, oven roasted salmon sits atop a bed of organic mixed greens and topped with cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, feta cheese, fresh tarragon and lemon. At $12.90, it was large enough to feed a family of four! Well, I might be exaggerating a little but the portion was huge by my standards! LOL!
Heather opted for one of their more popular dishes, the Charbroiled Chicken Shish Kabob. A definite must, at $12.95, you not only get a generous serving of the charbroiled chicken shish kabob, but you also get a grilled vegetable skewer and a choice of either the basmati rice or organic bulgar pilaf and your choice of salad.
I highly recommend Panini Cafe. Their extensive menu will allow you to make multiple trips back and with so many options, you can’t go wrong!
Locations in Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Beverly Hills, Downtown L.A., Corona Del Mar and Aliso Viejo. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week.