Good to Go

Good to Go: Yogiberry, Ice Berry, Tangysweet, Caliyogurt, Sweetgreen and More

Video
Mr. Yogato, one of several tart yogurt chains in the D.C. area, takes a unique approach to swirling and serving frozen yogurt. Video by Catherine Cheney/The Washington Post
By Catherine Cheney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When two Korean American entrepreneurs swirled their tart-yet-sweet yogurt at the first Pinkberry location in West Hollywood, Calif., in 2005, they started what would become a nationwide shift in frozen yogurt consumption.

You may have noticed that frozen yogurt is now capitalizing on its unique tartness, no longer trying to pass for ice cream. The trend has brought several nationwide and regional chains to the Washington area, and it seems to be creating converts from the ranks of ice cream lovers here. Among the seven shops we visited -- each taking its own spin in the absence of Pinkberry locally -- we found tasty-yet-pricey and tart-yet-sweet treats served with a wide range of toppings (some inspiring double takes).

At each you can order nonfat yogurt (aside from Caliyogurt, which has 0.75 grams of fat per ounce) for 17 to 30 calories per ounce, compared with, say, Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream, which has 4 grams of fat and 60 calories per ounce.

Two newer shops that have locations in town and in the suburbs are Yogiberry (3515 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-362-9644; 12274-E Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-230-9644; 18107 Town Center Dr., Olney, 301-570-7575; http://www.yogiberry.com) and Ice Berry (3001 M St. NW, 202-338-2333; 25031 Riding Plaza, No. 135, Chantilly, 703-327-8252; 11990 Market St., Reston, 703-481-0670; http://www.iceberryus.com). Their menus are similar: original, berry, chocolate or green-tea flavors, sold by the cup. Ice Berry also offers a refreshing honeydew. The original flavor is the most tart, but none is overly sweet, perhaps as a reminder that this is a healthful indulgence.

Both shops sell smoothies, for those who prefer to take their yogurt through a straw. Yogiberry also has a shaved-ice extravaganza topped with yogurt, mochi (glutinous rice, slightly sweetened and pounded into chewy patties) and three toppings. The prices, at $7.50 to $8.14, might prompt you to eat the whole thing.

The yogurt and granola on the menu are not Yogiberry's only throwback to the 1970s. The retro decor has mirrored walls, acrylic chairs and a psychedelic-colored striped wall to complete the mood. The prices are not retro. For the best value, stick with the cups of yogurt instead of the pricier smoothies and shaved ice. (At Yogiberry: 5 ounces, $2.95; 8 ounces, $3.95; 13 ounces, $6.45; toppings 95 cents each. At Ice Berry: 5 ounces, $3.50; 8 ounces, $4.65; 13 ounces, $7.25; toppings, 95 cents each. Honey, cinnamon and chocolate syrup are free add-ons.)

Tangysweet (2029 P St. NW, 202-347-7893; 675 E St. NW, 202-347-7895; http://www.tangysweet.com) is filled with summery hues, neon lights and glowing tables. The flavors are just as colorful. In addition to the classic flavor, which is mildly tangy and has a thick, creamy texture, there are pink guava, pomegranate, green tea and mango peach (5 ounces, $3.30; 8 ounces, $4.30; 13 ounces, $6; toppings are $1 for one, $1.60 for two and $2 for three).

Drinkable yogurt is an option at Tangysweet. Each smoothie blends fresh fruit with yogurt. (The 16-ounce option called Tangysweet contains blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and honey for $5.50.) With the D.C. Original Smoothie, you can blend any four toppings, such as mochi, waffle cone, mango and yogurt chips.

Austin Powers would feel right at home in Caliyogurt's Adams Morgan location (2472 18th St. NW, 202-234-0330; also at 12158 Darnestown Rd., Gaithersburg, 301-208-2020; http://www.caliyogurt.biz), which draws long lines of bar hoppers on weekends. The space is brightly lighted and decked out with mod furniture, flowery light fixtures and lime- and mustard-colored walls. Expect the usual offerings of plain, green-tea and fruit-flavored yogurt, along with the option to create a smoothie. Each week, the shop rotates in a special flavor (such as pomegranate, pink grapefruit or mango).

Plain yogurt here tastes slightly less tart than other varieties on the market. Toppings such as berries, mochi and Cocoa Pebbles cereal are available, but it was refreshing to see shavings of butterscotch, whole pecans and chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, too. (Plain yogurt is 5 ounces, $2.95; 8 ounces, $3.95; 12 ounces, $5.75. Flavored yogurt costs $3.50, $4.50 and $6.35, respectively. Toppings are 95 cents each, $1.45 for two and $1.75 for three.)

Where Caliyogurt is swinging '60s, the Yogen Früz chain's McPherson Square location (825 14th St. NW, 202-289-0078; also at 1961 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, 703-388-0606, and 1826 Discovery St., Reston, 571-926-9567; http://www.yogenfruz.com) gleams in white, with small splashes of color. A six-ounce cup goes for $2.50, with each topping costing 95 cents. The 12-ounce cup is $3.50 ($4.95 with three toppings), and the 16-ounce cup is $5.50 ($6.95 with three toppings), rendering Yogen Früz a bargain compared with some of its competitors. In addition to yogurt with toppings and smoothies, the shop offers the Blend It option. Select a frozen fruit such as black cherry or pineapple and staffers will whip together a fruit-flavored swirl (6 ounces, $2.95; 12 ounces, $4.45; 16 ounces, $6.45).

At Sweetgreen in Georgetown (3333 M St. NW, 202-337-9338; also at 1512 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-387-9338, and 4831 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-7336; http://www.sweetgreen.com), college students and young professionals exit the front door of the small green-and-white shop all day long with tall, swirled columns of yogurt called Sweetflow. The chain offers salads with fresh ingredients and a simple dessert menu: one kind of yogurt (plain tart), two sizes (small, $4; big, $6) and a wide range of toppings, which could be used for salads or Sweetflows, including coconut, fresh fruit, candied walnuts and dried cranberries. Sweetgreen yogurt is thick and creamy, the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. The Sweetflow yogurt truck brings swirling to the sidewalks at designated corners.

Mr. Yogato (1515 17th St. NW, 202-629-3531, http://www.mryogato.com; 723-A S. Broadway, Baltimore, 443-955-6681, http://www.mryogato-fellspoint.com) offers sweet treats paired with quirky demands and rules that earn rewards. For example, some recent customers who allowed "Mr. Yogato Stamped Me!!!" to be inked across their foreheads received a 5 percent discount.

The chain offers soft (creamy, a hint of tang) and tangy (icy, for tangy-lovers only) styles (5 ounces, $3; 8 ounces, $4; 12 ounces, $5; toppings cost $1 for one, $1.75 for two and $2 for three), plus two flavors on rotation; when we visited, they were a tangy strawberry and a sweet chocolate yogurt. Unique toppings include cantaloupe, mandarin oranges, toasted Eggo mini-waffles and free add-ons such as cinnamon, basil and olive oil.

Staff writers Julia Beizer and Leigh Lambert contributed to this report.


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