Okay. Still trying to get on that weight-loss bandwagon.
“I have the perfect place,” says my friend Hank. He’s calling from Eastlake.
“You’d better be sure,” I say. “Because this is going to be a two-hour bus ride.”
“Dude, I need this as much as you do. Be here or be square. Or in your case, be round, heh heh. 12:30. Lunch!”
So two hours, three buses, and a Blue Line trolley later, we’re standing under the shadow of mighty Mount Miguel — 2,567 feet, 84th highest peak in San Diego County, carrier of a sprout of TV and radio antennas.
And this development has a grand panorama of it from the foothills. Must say, Eastlake is starting to look good. Trees, archways, friendly walkways. And right next door to the “Anytime Fitness” gym, here’s Hank, waiting at a storefront called “The Protein Place.” Actually looks like a franchise deal, except I have never heard of it before.
2322 Proctor Valley Road, Eastlake
“It’s all about protein, dude,” Hank says. “More you have, more weight you lose.”
“Say what?” Must admit, though, if the people sitting around the tables outside under the pergola and yellow umbrellas are anything to go by, this is a hangout for the healthy.
“Eat better. Be better,” says the sign inside.
We take a seat. It’s standard-looking new store set-up: cream walls, black acoustic ceiling tiles, gray skirting. All around, signs dot the walls. “Wake Up and Be Awesome.” “Work Hard AND Hustle.”
“I know what I want,” says Hank. He’s looking intensely at the menu. One side is breakfast and wraps. Breakfasts are between $7 and $8. They have things such as power cakes, “3 pancakes high in protein and carbs, made with our ProCake mix, oats, and baked sweet potato purée, topped with whipped cream ($8).” Or tri-tip and eggs: Tri-tip steak, with “egg whites or 2 whole eggs any style with your choice of sweet potato hash, country red potato, or toast ($9).”
“Actually, the one with the most protein is our ProPlate egg scramble,” says this athletic-looking gal, Stevie. “It’s egg whites, or two whole eggs scrambled with mixed bell peppers, spinach, chopped tomato, and red onions, with a side of sweet potato hash or toast ($8). Unfortunately, breakfast’s over. But try our lunch entrees.”
There are other deals. Two tacos (fish or ground sirloin) cost $6, and something called “Spaghetti Squash” is $8. Seems it’s spaghetti actually made of, well, squash. And their salads, like the Chinese chicken salad ($8), have plenty of meat in them.
But I guess the entrees are really it. Five ounces of protein, whether it’s grilled salmon ($12), veggie steak or grilled tri-tip ($10), ground sirloin ($9), tilapia ($9), chicken breast ($8) or ground turkey ($8). And you get two sides with any of these.
Long and short is, Hank orders grilled salmon and three sides: sweet potato fries, sautéed asparagus, and sautéed mushrooms. Extra side costs $1.
I pick the grilled tri-tip, with red potatoes and sautéed bell peppers and onions as sides. Everything looks healthy and protein-packed, and what you notice is, there’s no gunky stuff. It’s clean veggies, clear protein, that’s it. Okay, Hank has those sweet potato fries and sautéed mushrooms, and we get three side sauces, just in case we crave stronger flavors: cilantro-avocado, tahini (sesame), and chipotle ranch. (Cost 50 cents each. Best of them’s the tahini, for me, anyway, although the chipotle has kick). But overall, you really start to believe these guys are serious about creating nosh that’s good for you.
“The guy who started this is a body builder himself. He’s serious about protein, and how important good food is for body builders,” says Stevie. She’s talking about her boss, Omar Moss, who’s from LA. Professional body builder, serial entrepreneur. “This food is part of training for me,” says Jordan, the big man behind the counter. He says he spends from two to four hours a day in the gym next door. “If Omar decides to open other places, he’ll make sure they’re next to gyms, so people who are serious about eating what’s best for their bodies can have easy access,” he says. “I lost 60 to 70 pounds training with Omar and eating just this kind of food. He wants it healthy and affordable.”
Nice thing I notice is they also have a kids’ menu that’s not just for kids. The “mini menu” is a “smaller portion for smaller tummies! Children, seniors, and bariatric [overweight] patients.” Items like “Leg Day Oatmeal” go for $3. “Country red potato and egg” costs $3.50. Tri-tip, egg, and potato, $5. “Build your own” breakfast wrap, $3.50. And entrees go from grilled chicken breast ($4) to grilled salmon, $7.
I don’t know how small the servings are, but these guys really do seem to care. And besides, eating outside here is such a pleasure. The jacaranda-planted patio wraps around a fountain, and rises to a curved galleria that looks out over the en-tire valley below. Awesome.
As usual, Hank has downed his meal before I’m halfway. But he does give me a taste of his salmon. Delishy. Not fishy.
“All we have to do is eat here every day for a month and we’ll be running around like spring chickens,” he says.
“At these prices, we just about could,” I say. “Although, maybe we should pay a few visits to Anytime Fitness next door, too.”
“Hey, let’s not go over the top,” says Hank.
- The Place: The Protein Plate, 2322 Proctor Valley Road, Eastlake, Chula Vista, 619-240-3933
- Hours: 7am-11pm, daily
- Prices: power cakes (3 high-protein, high carb pancakes), $8; tri-tip steak, 2 eggs, choice of sweet potato hash, country red potato, or toast, $9; ProPlate egg scramble, w/bell peppers, spinach, chopped tomato, red onions, sweet potato hash or toast, $8; Chinese chicken salad, $8; tacos (fish or ground sirloin), $6 for two; spaghetti squash, $8; entrees, (include two sides): 5oz grilled salmon, $12; veggie steak, $10; grilled tri-tip, $10; ground sirloin, $9; talapia entree $9; chicken breast, $8; ground turkey, $8
- Bus: 707
- Nearest Bus Stops: Proctor Valley Road and Mt. Miguel Road