Protein Bar Review - An Impressive Healthy Dining Experience

This is a review of the Protein Bar restaurant, which has locations in both Chicago, IL and Washington D.C.  The Protein Bar prides itself on creating healthy meal and drink choices, which are also packed with flavor.  The Protein Bar I went to is located in a building that's connected to the Renaissance Hotel, in Chicago, IL.  

I had never heard of the Protein Bar restaurant until I noticed it from the hotel that I was staying at.  As I mentioned, I was staying at the Renaissance Hotel and my fiancé` and I were looking for a place to have lunch.  We noticed there was a building attached to the hotel, so we decided to check it out, mainly out of curiosity. We walked past the restaurant and noticed they had a huge menu posted on the wall, outside of the entrance.  We both try to eat pretty healthy on a consistent basis, so the name itself really intrigued us.  After a few minutes of looking at the menu, we were both sold, and decided to eat there.

Menu Options
The menu is broken down into specific categories; Breakfast, Blended Drinks, Bar-ritos, Bowls, Salads, Chilis and Sides.  After looking at the breakfast options, I was immediately kicking myself for not finding this place sooner.  Earlier that morning, I had spent over $50 for the hotel breakfast buffet.  If only I had found this place sooner.

Since we were there for lunch, I decided to order the vegetarian chili, the Newport salad, and to drink I had the Fruit Loop'd.  The Fruit Loop'd is a smoothie made out of blueberries, a banana, vanilla protein powder, and your choice of milk (I chose almond milk).  I make smoothies at home using the NutriBullet on an almost daily basis, and the Fruit Loop'd was better than anything I've made myself.  The best part was there weren’t any added sugars, which is what most places to make their smoothies taste better.  I’d rather taste the actual fruit myself.

Vegetarian Chili
The vegetarian chili is gluten free, and is made with a soy protein meat replacement, red beans, fresh vegetables, and spices.  It has 332 calories per cup, along with 25 grams of protein, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of fiber.  It was a very good chili, with the right amount of spices to complement the beans and veggies.  I also think it's great that they list the ingredients and nutritional information for each item on the menu.  In my opinion, being able to see the ingredients is far more important.  I can see that there aren't any added sugars or oils, which can make healthy meals unhealthy really fast.

Newport Salad
The Newport salad consists of all natural chicken, seasonal fruit, pepitas (still not exactly sure what those are), golden raisins, and a house-made Balsamic Flax Vinaigrette dressing.  It has 442 calories, 27 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fiber.  I was really happy with my choice of salad, because the chicken made it filling, but I also got the fresh leafy greens and seasonal fruit.  The only minor complaint I have is I'd prefer regular raisins to golden raisins.  I do like both, but if I had my choice, I'd go with the plain raisins.
I was extremely impressed with the Protein Bar restaurant.  I mentioned that I try to eat healthy, but it can be pretty difficult when you want to go out to eat.  Since most restaurants don't provide a list of ingredients with each of their menu options, you never know exactly what is used to prepare each dish.  Something as simple as a side of mixed vegetables could have been cooked in a bunch of butter or oils, which is when the calories start to add up.

My only real complaint is that they don't have restaurants outside of Chicago and Washington D.C.  I was visiting Chicago, so unfortunately I won't be able to eat here very often.  My overall experience was great, and I really encourage anyone reading this to check out the Protein Bar and enjoy some healthy eating!