Acai bowls: A fresh taste of summer


Juice RX-Fruit Alchemist Bowl. Photo courtesy of Katherine Volovodovskaya

By Nicole Herzog and Megan Evans

Fruit Paradise: 2355 N. Milwaukee Ave

Megan: With its bright yellow and pink letters and white and blue-painted front, Fruit Paradise truly stands out compared to the area around it. When I first walked in, I immediately liked that the place was small, which gives it a cozy, homey vibe. It’s hard not to take a long time deciding what to get, which is another thing that I love about this place. They have their own separate menu dedicated to acai bowls and smoothie bowls, and there are almost 50 different ones to choose from. The first time I went I got the “Paradise Bowl,” which, according to their menu, contains acai, pitaya, banana, blueberries, strawberries and apple juice. The toppings consist of honey, granola, blueberries, bananas, mango and coconut flakes. There is also a long list of extra toppings that you can add to your bowl to make it even better. I added cocoa nibs, which was an extra $0.75. This bowl was by far the best that I have ever tried. The pleasant, sweet taste of the acai mix along with all of the fruit, granola and plethora of toppings help create a bowl full of perfection.


Nicole: Upon arriving at Fruit Paradise, I was a little turned off by the location. The colorful hand-painted sign at the entrance of the building seemed wildly out of place amongst the dingy, run down businesses which surround the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised with the inviting atmosphere of the interior of the building, however. The brightly colored cafe features a charming mural at the entrance as well as a sprawling menu with different treats to try. While the menu contains many different savory options, such as sandwiches and salads, they also offer sweet confections like ice cream sundaes and gelato. The acai bowls, though, definitely seem to be the main event here. Each table seemed to have ordered one, and the long list of different options to choose from beckoned my attention. I chose the “Hawaiian Bowl,” which contains acai, pineapple, coconut, banana, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple juice. Toppings include granola, mango, banana, pineapple, raisins, coconut and honey. Though the wait time was long, I was far from disappointed when I received my bowl. I noted that the taste was not tart or creamy, but rather sweet and light. It was more like an acai slushie, which I actually prefer in comparison to a heavy consistency. Plus, it came in a cute polka dot bowl and was the most affordable option at only $8.50. Fruit Paradise is definitely my favorite out of the restaurants reviewed.


Real Good Juice: 3548 N. Southport Ave

Megan: Southport has always been one of my favorite places to go to on a pleasant, sunny day. The array of boutiques and restaurants that line the street always seem to be alive with the hum of laughter and movement of friends and families walking down the street. Another great addition to the shops on Southport is Real Good Juice. Real Good offers a variety of smoothies, juices, acai bowls, salads and even “Noyo Froyo,” which is a take on dairy-free frozen yogurt. I tried a sample of the chocolate “Noyo Froyo,” and it was delicious. However, I was eager to try an acai bowl, so I ended up ordering the “Michael Bowlton,” an acai bowl topped with blueberries, bananas, granola, coconut and cocoa nibs. The toppings were very pleasant, but there weren’t many on the bowl. The actual smoothie itself, made with acai, blueberries and banana, tasted bland and almost like nothing. There was only a tiny hint of sweetness, and I couldn’t really taste the signature acai flavor. The bowl was priced at $11.50, and while it is somewhat cheaper than some of the other places I’ve been to, the lack of flavor just isn’t worth paying for. I would instead recommend the “Noyo Froyo.” If I were to visit Real Good Juice again, I would definitely get that instead.


Nicole: As I walked into Real Good Juice, I noticed the wide assortment of healthy snacks which lined the counter, as well as the rainbow-colored menu filled with cool treats, such as the “Noyo Froyo” as well as different smoothies which featured unique and obscure names. I ordered the “Fruity Pebbowl” which, though it doesn’t contain actual acai, sounded delicious — a mix of Blue majik (a powder form of spirulina, a freshwater algae, which dyes food a blue pigment), vanilla, banana, almond milk, fresh strawberries, granola and coconut topped with bee pollen. One negative aspect I noted about Real Good Juice is the lack of seating. The room is lined with a long, wooden bench like area, but only contains one physical table. Therefore, eating can get really messy and uncomfortable here. The bowls came out quickly, but mine looked unappetizing upon arrival. The color, which I imagined to be a bright blue, was actually a weird, off-green color. I still tried it, but was put off by the taste. The acai mix was bland and the toppings didn’t go well with the flavor. I tried Megan’s bowl as well to see if hers was any better, but it still tasted bland to me. Though Real Good is a great spot for a trendy Instagram picture, the acai bowls are simply not worth $11.50.


Juice RX: 1880 N. Damen Ave

Megan: Walking into Juice RX and reading the giant menu in front of me, I was filled with optimism. The abundance of greenery, sunlight and the smell of fresh fruit gave me a sense of happiness and hope that the actual food would be outstanding. When I received the “Fruit Alchemist” acai bowl, the abundance of fruit, coconut and almond butter on top made me even more excited to try it. However, I’m sad to say that I was disappointed. The actual smoothie part was a good texture, but it tasted sour and almost a little bitter. The granola that was mixed into the bowl was very chunky and was mostly made up of almonds and walnuts. It had a nice cinnamon taste, but the cinnamon did not pair well with the rest of the ingredients. The bowl that I ordered had goji berries on top, which are very crunchy and almost sticky at the same time, and they added a weird texture that did not fit with the bowl. Another downside of this place is that they do not have any of the acai bowls on their online menu, so we went there knowing that there could be a slight chance that they had none at all. Also, the bowl was super expensive. The price was around $14, which to me is more on the expensive side. I haven’t tried any of the other flavors of acai bowls that Juice RX offers, but I don’t think that paying $14 to try another one would be worth it.


Nicole: Sandwiched between the multitude of businesses in the heart of Bucktown lies the quintessential millennial style health joint, Juice RX. Upon walking in, I immediately noticed the large screens on the wall which featured the menu items. I thought this was a nice touch to make the space feel a bit more modern, as the rest of the restaurant seemed more traditional in the sense that all the furniture was mostly wooden. I really liked the atmosphere of the

restaurant — the large windows filled the room with natural sunlight and the plants which encompassed the walls added to the outdoorsy element. The spot to order was downstairs, while the seating area was lofted in a quaint space filled with board games and cool photography pieces. I also decided to order the Fruit Alchemist acai bowl and was pleasantly surprised by the plethora of toppings that garnished the bowl. This bowl looked more like a dessert rather than a healthy food choice. While I did enjoy the toppings (especially the coconut flavored whipped cream) the actual acai mix was bitter and not sweet at all. I also didn’t like the granola which was filled to the brim of the bowl. The cinnamon taste did not mix well with the rest of the ingredients. The price was very expensive, which might explain why the bowls were so full. While the portions were large, I felt like it was almost too much. I would most likely not return to Juice RX.