I've had my eye on the Protein Bar for a while as I knew they served many vegan dishes. This small cafe is more of a to-go spot than it is a dine-in joint. Their mission is to change the way people eat on-the-go by serving healthy food quickly.
I had an hour-long break from serving my civic duty, that is, jury duty, so I dropped by to see what was on the menu. The layout of the cafe is really cute. You order on one side and pick up on the other, but it is the dining room with its huge white round table that seats six on retro red stools that really catches your eye. It is a simple, yet functional design.
The menu consists of bar-ritos, bowls, breakfast, salads, chilis, and sides. I loved that several dishes were not only vegan, they had vegan in the name. There were two items that were exactly the same but with different names in slightly different ways. You could get the Superfood Vegan salad made with marinated organic tofu, kale, toasted pepitas, chickpeas, and chia dressing over the super 6 salad mix. Or you could get it grilled into a burrito by ordering the Green City Vegan bar-rito.
I went for the Vegan Original (grilled) bar-rito. What I liked about this burrito was that it was grilled and warm in a whole-wheat flax tortilla. I also loved that they use organic tofu. And while everything in the burrito from the housemade seasoned black beans to the organic quinoa blend was good for you, it definitely lacked some flavor. There was even fresh salsa and vegan cheese, but not much of it. It tasted like a healthy rice and bean burrito that needed guacamole or a great habanero sauce to really make it stand out. I slathered it with the Cholula hot sauce and was happy to have a healthy burrito, but it definitely tasted like something I could make at home.
On my second visit, I ordered the chilled Green City Vegan. This time, with more understanding as to what to expect here, I was just hoping for a healthy wrap that needed a little hot sauce. To my surprise, this one had a lot more flavor. The marinated tofu, kale, pepitas, and chickpeas were atop a Super 6 Salad Mix rolled in a tortilla and slathered with a creamy vegan chia dressing that was very good. I added avocado and hot sauce and found it to be quite tasty.
All of the items at Protein Bar are super protein-rich, hence the name, and the people working the counter were really great. LaDonna in particular is super enthusiastic and really gave the place a good vibe! They even post the calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein for each dish. That can be good and bad. That made me realize that I was getting 27 grams of protein in the grilled burrito, but also 14 grams of fat!
I also love that they make fresh juices as well. They have locations in Chicago, DC, and Colorado. I love the concept and the food and hope they add a bit more spice or complementary sauce or guacamole in the future. Then, it would be perfect!
398 7th Street NW