With all of the interesting independent restaurants in Chicago, it is rare to find a chain restaurant that is worth eating at for any reason other than the price. Panera, a gourmet soup/sandwich/bakery chain, is one of those exceptions.
Freshly baked breads (over 20 varieties), bagels and pastries are the name of the game, but let's not forget about the sandwiches, hand-tossed salads and rotating list of soups, all of which can be served in a sourdough bread bowl if you so choose. Round out your reasonably-priced meal with a fountain soda or one of several coffee or tea drinks, both of which, incidentally, go well with a cookie, brownie or mini bundt cake.
Panera official website: http://www.panera.com/