Protein Bar in River North

I can’t believe that a place like this was not initially founded in California. Protein Bar could go national easily in much of the same way that Native Foods expanded from SoCal to Chicago. To go from Chicago to LA would be totally interesting. For right now, it’s a local chain, and it’s my favorite discovery of the past few months. Protein Bar is a protein-focused, vegan-veg friendly food spot where you can get juices and shakes, too.

All the food on the menu is healthy and the nutritional information is listed, so you know how healthy you are eating. I love whimsy and transparency on my menu, and boy, does this place have both. From the Bar-Ritos to the South Acai`D smoothie, the menu also lets you know if an item is gluten-free, vegan, and/or vegetarian. You can modify their salads (which include kale among other great leaves) and delicious bowls to suit your diet. The best part: the protein!! What makes this place better than Jamba Juice is that the food and drinks are actually fresh plus they get you your order within minutes.

I went in last Saturday for lunch and had the Black Bean Fiesta Bowl. It rocked my world because it had organic quinoa in it and was very satisfying. The beans were cooked with some love and the cheese on top was not a bad addition. I got a modified-version of the Millenium Perk as a drink. It has coffee (perk), chocolate (double perk), and the best part is that they let you choose what else you want in it. I chose almond milk with “egg” as my protein. At first, when the woman at the register asked me “what protein?” I looked at her with confused. I didn’t want meat added to my bowl. When I asked what she meant, she told me I could have egg, whey or soy added to my shake. With those words, I was sold on this place. At $10 for a filling, healthy meal with a shake, I will be coming back soon.

Calumet Fisheries: A South Side Institution

Shelby and Sara flew out to Chicago for a small vacation, and we had a wonderful opportunity to spend part of the weekend with them. They’ve been to Chicago a few times before, so they were wary of the tourist traps. After spending the day at the Art Institute, Shel and Sara invited us to go to Calumet Fisheries in South Chicago. This tiny, obscure take-out restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and has a James Beard award. The commute there was almost as interesting as the eatery. We took the Metra to the last stop in the area, then walked for a few blocks in a sketchy industrial area. The trip included walking under a bridge and sitting on the street next to a closed bridge to eat. The smoked fish that Calumet is famous for was great. We ordered smoked salmon and sturgeon along with sweet potato tater tots, slaw, and several deep-fried seafood items. I passed on the deep-fried seafood, but still felt the protein overload. Shelby and Sara will be guest bloggers who will review this experience in more detail. More on Calumet Fisheries! Enjoy the photos.