Best juice bars photo
(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Best juice bars

Lavanya Ramanathan  |  Updated 07/26/2012

Juice bars are sprouting up across the region, and we stopped at several to sample the trend: Nearly all press their juices fresh, eschew added sugar and pasteurization, and recommend customers drink up within a day or two. Many also offer a pretty pie-in-the-sky accounting of the health benefits of carrots, wheatgrass and coconut water. We're not sold on the life-altering claims, but we can get behind any way to consume more veggies.

 

Khepra's Raw Food and Juice Bar

Washington, DC

Visit this small lunch counter and you'll likely find chef Khepra Anu cracking coconuts by hand to harvest the coconut water, which is the base of all of the raw-food restaurant's raw-juice offerings. Khepra's offers its juices as a fast - a typical day's fast would include coconut water, one green and one fruit juice - but the juices can be purchased separately. After sipping from three varieties (each $9), we easily downed the pineapple-and-blood-orange. One bottle, however, reminded us of why some people hate vegetables: It was the murky collard-nectarine, which tasted not unlike frozen spinach.

 

Juice Joint Cafe

Washington, DC

The renovated Juice Joint is a busy lunch destination for downtown office workers looking for a healthy lunch or smoothie, but popular sellers include its fresh juices, all made to order. Want a thrill that will affirm your healthy choice? Order the V-7 -- the restaurant's fresh take on a popular canned beverage -- and watch the juicer squeeze a perfect 12 ounces of liquid out of two carrots, a half a head of cabbage, a handful of spinach, and a handful of other fresh veggies. ($4.25 for the small.)

 

Sweetgreen

Washington, DC

The new all-organic juices at salad restaurant Sweetgreen made an appearance in summer 2012 in a half-dozen bottled varieties including Purify, with apple, kale, spinach, cucumber and ginger; and Hydrate, with pineapple, cucumber, coconut water, pear and lime. The juices, priced at $6 ($7 for the Purify), are billed as an "anti-cleanse," better for a breakfast or snack. Two to three pounds of fruits and vegetables go into a 12-ounce bottle; Sweetpress boasts that its process uses pressure to extract juice without heating the vegetables, preserving more vitamins. With juicing, says Nicolas Jammet, co-founder of Sweetgreen, "You're getting the pure nutritional benefit of all those vegetables without all the fiber. You don't have to fill yourself with that." Hydrate was so tasty we couldn't help but think a little gin would make it a fine cocktail (Blasphemy! We know!). The cucumber was refreshing, and the pear and pineapple add sweetness that will make this flavor popular among juicers not enticed by the idea of kale punch.

 

Puree Juice Bar

Bethesda, MD

This Bethesda juice bar (pictured above) has location, location, location. Next to a spin studio, a gym and a yoga studio, it has a built-in customer base for its smoothies and juices, all built from such liquids as alkaline water, coconut water, carrot juice or green apple juice. Grab a juice to go ($9). The shop also offers juice cleanses.

 

The B Spot

Washington, DC

This second-floor tea cafe, juice bar and art gallery in Capitol Hill has a giant sign touting "The Healing Properties of Fruit." (Peaches "moisten the lungs and intestine," while cherry "increases qi energy.") We were bummed that our juices were poured out of prepared pitchers recently, rather than made to order. The "Cell Support," with beet and cucumber juice was sweet and truly tasted like beets, but the "Daily Detox," with carrot, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger (each $5.50) was a little more palatable. The B Spot reminded us the most of a traditional juice bar, with few trendy ingredients.

 

Naked Lunch at MOM's Organic Market

Rockville, MD

A tiny lunch counter at the Rockville location of Mom's opened in May and offers customers two daily juice specials ($4.50 to $6) or a chance to concoct their own juice blend by using a base of celery, orange, apple or cucumber juice and adding in kale, spinach, peppers, beets or other fruits and veggies. "I don't really believe in 'functional foods,' " Mom's owner Scott Nash says of "it" fruits and vegetables. "[People] think it'll solve all their problems. Our philosophy here is: 'Live a lifestyle of a healthier life.' If you want dandelion greens in your juice, that's fine, but that's not going to fix your liver."

"The Chill," a house blend of apple, orange, spinach and mint, was one of the tastiest beverages we encountered - the mint and orange easily masked the grassy spinach.

 

South Block Smoothie & Wrap Co.

Arlington, VA

This Clarendon smoothie and sandwich shop sells smoothies and wheatgrass shots, but because cashew milk frequently finds its way into juicing regimens, it was the milk made in-house with raw cashews that caught our eye. Dubbed Caveman Milk ($6.95), the shop's play on the dairy-free so-called caveman diet, it has zinc, which the shop claims "rebuilds the body's collagen supply and prevents wrinkling, stretch marks and other potential 'body roadmaps.'" The milk (made with cinnamon, agave and vanilla) is rich - too rich to drink more than a few sips without feeling like you're eating peanut butter out of the jar. We're still looking for a way to keep crow's feet at bay.

 

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