By: Corey Then
Protein Bar is D.C.’s latest exciting addition at 7th and D (now going by “7th and Delicious). Protein Bar was born after a Chicago entrepreneur, Matt Matros, lost 60 pounds eating a diet high in protein and low in carbs. He began selling high-protein shakes and ended up adding delicious salads, “bar-ritos,” and soups to round out the menu. Soon Mr. Matros had seven locations in downtown Chicago, and the Penn Quarter Protein Bar is the first outside of the Windy City. Although it’s been open less than two months, Protein Bar is already ultra-popular with D.C.’s health-conscious breakfast and lunch crowd, and also makes a great spot to stop by after a workout for some quick and delicious protein.
Bar-ritos, bowls, salads and soups. Protein Bar’s bar-ritos have half the calories of most burritos since they use warm organic quinoa instead of rice and a low-cal whole wheat wrap instead of a flour tortilla. Its Chilled Bar-ritos feature house-made sauces, organic or all-natural proteins, and are rolled in a low-cal whole wheat wrap. Protein Bar’s bowls, all gluten-free (as is the chili), start with warm organic quinoa which is topped with protein, fresh produce, and other goodies. Finally, each Protein Bar salad features a house-made dressing and is served with its Super 6 Salad Mix for maximum nutrition (romaine, spinach, broccoli, carrots, kale, purple cabbage).
I had the Ivy Bar-Rito and was extremely pleased with the consistency and flavor, which I have to admit was richer and more satisfying than I expected due to the obvious health benefits. The Ivy is made with all-natural chicken, organic quinoa, spinach, basil pesto, and shredded parmesan cheese, and I definitely plan to go back for more.
I also tried the Southwest salad, which puts other salad-shops to shame.
I also tried the vegetarian chili. I am a meat-lover so again, I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. The flavors are nicely balanced and worthy of an order.
Click here for a link to their full menu.
Protein Bar’s blended drinks have no added syrups, concentrates, or juices. The sugar found in Protein Bar’s blended drinks comes from the naturally-occurring sugars in fresh fruit and milks and are easily converted to energy by the body. You choose from three proteins (whey, soy, or egg), choose a milk (2%, skim, almond, or soy), and add an optional boost at no charge. Some drinks have yogurt in them, and you have a choice of that, too (nonfat, Greek, or soy).
I had the PBJ. While I was surprised to see it come out colored purple (must be from the blueberries and strawberries), it definitely tasted of peanut butter with a sweet combination of fruit. It was really filling, perfect after a workout, and absolutely delicious, much better than most protein-heavy shakes.
Atmosphere: This is a fast-casual restaurant where you can actually sit down and eat in peace (unlike the Chipotle up the street on 7th, where the lines are akin to cattle being herded). The circular design gives the space excellent flow and the attractive color-scheme makes it a pleasant place to dine. Watch out Chipotle!