398 7th St., NW
Protein Bar may be for the health-conscious, but it is not a run-of-the-mill restaurant.
The eatery’s first D.C. location opened in Penn Quarter last month, and it is planning a Ballston, Va. location that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner options for every taste palette and lifestyle.
When I first walked into Protein Bar, my eye traveled to the array of Sriracha bottles atop the bar, warranting my immediate approval. The Thai chili hot sauce is an underrated condiment that enhances the flavor of virtually anything.
Ordering became a difficult decision after I scanned the menu. Between salads, quinoa bowls and “bar-ritos,” I found an assortment of flavor combinations that sounded too good to pass up. Luckily, I went with a group of friends who were willing to share.
Each meal took no more than five minutes to arrive. I was hesitant at first to try my Superfood Vegan salad ($7.49), which looked like a bed of lettuce with various toppings strewn haphazardly on top.
But the marinated tofu, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas with leafy field greens and kale married together in a savory combination. The Creamy Chia dressing was rich enough to enhance flavors without tasting like a generic topping, such as ranch. And its slight kick was a welcome surprise.
The quinoa bowls also did not disappoint. Though they appeared a bit skimpy for almost $7 each, they were hearty and filling, and each bowl offered a variety of flavors and textures. My favorite was the Spinach & Pesto bowl, with grilled chicken, fresh spinach and basil pesto. You can also opt for the quinoa chili bowl.
Breakfast food and signature drink options are also available – many with creative names that will make you smile. I was happy to find that the Comiskey Cocoa shake ($3.69), made with chocolate protein powder, milk, cocoa malt, agave nectar and banana, tasted nothing like the average protein powder-laced beverage. It reminded me of a rich chocolate milkshake you might find at a 1950s-style diner.
Just before we walked out the door, my friends and I were also offered free samples of the Fruit Loop’d shake, made with vanilla protein powder, milk, blueberries and banana, which offered a sweet, yet refreshing taste.
Staff members approached us several times throughout our meal to make sure our experience was enjoyable, to which I always responded “yes,” without hesitation.
While it’s easy to run somewhere on campus and swipe your GWorld for a quick snack, Protein Bar is worth the Metro ride.