I don’t happen to think I’m terribly healthy. When I say this, some friends, who have seen me scarf down several servings of french fries at 3 a.m. or witnessed me single-handedly polishing off three doughnuts for breakfast, nod in agreement. Others scoff and say, “You’re healthier than 99% of Americans.”
True, I don’t eat meat, enjoy exercise, and avoid processed foods. I like weird healthy foods like beets, brussel sprouts and the like. However, I rarely skip dessert, never say no to a second (or third) glass of wine, and I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like.
Moreover, if I’ve been unhealthy lately, I try to be a little more healthy the following day or week. Cue Protein Bar, a fast-and-healthy protein-centric restaurant concept that opened in Penn Quarter last year.
Protein Bar is helping to fill the gap in what Washington’s cuisine needs: quick, healthy, and affordably priced options. Sure, we have an amazing culinary scene. But, aside from Sweetgreen, which I frequent, restaurants where you can grab something delicious-yet-nutritious and wallet-friendly are minimal.
A few months ago, in the middle of a slew of restaurant openings, tiresome dates (more wine, please), and the regular hustle-and-bustle of Washington events, my body was craving something healthy. So, I opted for a mid-week brunch (read: late breakfast) at Protein Bar.
Protein Bar serves breakfast and lunch. It’s founder, Matt Matros, created the concept after an all-protein diet helped him lose a lot of weight and get into shape. (He’s now a triathlete).
As for breakfast, the spot serves up barritos, breakfast bowls, oatmeal bowls, juices and blended drinks (basically smoothies). They list the calories and nutritional info on the menu, which is both frightening and helpful. (While I’m healthy, I will never count calories. God knows how much I consume).
I opted for the pesto breakfast bowl, made with fluffy scrambled eggs, spinach, parmesan cheese, basil pesto. (Nutritional info: 415 calories, 19 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 1298 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates, 14 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 37 g protein).
The next week, I dragged Becca by when she was hungry and in need of a mid-day Saturday snack. Becca tried the spinach and pesto lunch bowl. (We both love pesto, parm, and spinach, but who doesn’t?) It was made with alll-natural chicken with organic quinoa, spinach, basil pesto, and shredded parmesan cheese (Nutritional info: 371 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 805 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 35 g protein).
We both got juices. For me, the HI-5, made with kale, spinach, pineapple, cilantro, lime, blended with ice. It was very citrus-y and sweet, and tasted strongly of pineapple. I devoured the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Becca opted for the very-pink Beetbox, made with apple, cucumber, beet, carrot, ginger. She thought it would be sweeter than the HI-5, but it was, in fact, more tart, less sweet, and less enjoyable. Becca wasn’t wild about it but I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Last, but not least, the coffee drinks at Protein Bar are worth-the-trip. If I could, I would drink the Millennium Perk daily, as it was simply scrumptious.
The Millennium Perk is made with chocolate protein, espresso protein, choice of milk, and house-made cocoa malt. (Nutritional info: 20 oz: 287 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 260 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 39 g protein. 12 oz: 172 calories, 2 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 180 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 20 g protein).
The Bitches say: Not a brunch, but a great place for a healthy breakfast any day of the week. We give it an A because we love the concept and Washington needs health food. Can’t wait for Protein Bar to set up more locations—Dupont and Logan, please!
The Protein Bar DC
398 7th Street N.W. (7th and D)
The Protein Bar serves breakfast all week long.