Noodles & Company has decent noodles, which is fitting considering the name of the place.
You place your order and pay, similar to Chipotle, but then you go fill your drink and take a seat. Your food is brought out a few minutes on real dishware, well presented. It’s fast food, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s a nice touch.
I tried the Indonesian Peanut Saute with chicken. It was recommended to me, the advice being that it tasted more like Pad Thai than their Pad Thai; it’s also the most spicy dish on the menu. Not too spicy, but the mix of flavor was pretty decent for a chain. The kitchen makes a point not to drown the dish in sauce, so a bit of freshly squeezed lime juice helped bring out the flavor. The chicken was a little dry, but I think this worked well since it was easily split into bite size chunks for cleaning the remaining sauce out of the bowl.
Surprisingly they also have a pretty mean Caesar Salad. It’s a simple dish to prepare, but I feel like a lot of salads come out with limp greens and mushy cheese. As advertised the greenery was crisp, lightly tossed with dressing, and the Parmesan cheese was cured and cut thick.
Two people had the Japanese Pan Noodles. It has caramelized udon-style noodles and looked really good. Note to self: try that.
Let’s face it, Noodles & Company is a pasta bar. A medium bowl is $5-6. A large is $7.75. You can combo a medium bowl and a small side salad or soup for the same price as a large. While it isn’t marked up as much as a formal restaurant, it’s still pricey for pasta. I’d definitely skip the spaghetti and macaroni options and anything else you can make easily at home. But if I were in the area and was craving some udon-style noodles or ethnic spices that I don’t stock in my kitchen, I’d stop in for a bowl.