Spotlight: Muscle Maker Grill

Owner Christopher Almazan

I admit, I was a little wary walking into Muscle Maker Grill. The name on its own certainly stakes out its market, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I found, though, was a very friendly, casual place. Walking in, we were immediately greeted warmly, and offered paper menus. The room is definitely casual, with a brick wall on one side reminiscent of a pizza parlor, as well as tables and booths—it’s somewhere in between a casual restaurant and a nice fast food place.

As you can imagine by the name, Muscle Maker Grill prides itself on healthy food that’s good for your body, and on being a restaurant and a resource that helps people manage their health. In fact, Christopher Almazan, owner/operator of the Chelsea location, was a personal trainer for several years. He emphasized the importance of having employees that were knowledgeable about the body and health as well as friendly and welcoming. They consider themselves warmer and more hands-on than a chain restaurant (although Muscle Maker Grill is technically a franchise).

The Arizona, their most popular entree

What Muscle Maker Grill does well, though, is to make sure their meals are healthy without sacrificing taste. The menu offers several different options, from “Power pastas” to “Guiltless entrees,” and even low carb options and salads. I went with my mother and sister, and we ordered the Arizona, the Cajun Chicken and Penne, and the Mardi Gras Cajun Grilled Chicken Salad, respectively. The Arizona is their most popular entrée, consisting of grilled chicken and turkey bacon over brown rice with their signature sauce. The flavors of the sauce and chicken went together remarkably well, and the sauce was even zero-carb! The Cajun chicken and penne was seasoned with a red wine and brown sauce that was also flavorful and filling; even the salad on its own was filling enough to satisfy hunger! This is no skimpy dieting salad. On top of the grilled chicken, it came with turkey bacon, tomatoes, and onions.

Afterwards, we were offered dessert—which might seem contradictory to the whole health-food theme. However, the cheesecake was sugar-less, and there were protein cookies as well. We tried the protein cookies, and they didn’t taste at all like a health food substitute for dessert– they were tasty and just moist enough. The peanut butter cookie was my favorite.

Muscle Maker Grill is certainly something of a niche restaurant. It’s one hundred percent focused on health (the TV in the corner was even playing exercise videos the day I went), so it’s definitely the place for any health enthusiasts. It’s also a great healthy option for college students, though, particularly those tired of instant ramen who want food that’s good for them. Everything at Muscle Maker Grill can be eaten without worrying about carb intake, and the menu even has nutrition information for each of the dishes. Muscle Maker Grill even offers takeout, making it a great option anytime!

Anais DiCroce (American University)

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