Richard's Fruit Center: Great Juice Without SoBe Prices

There might be no greater guilt-inducing purchase than fresh juice. Though it's endorsed by celebrities as varied as Gwyneth Paltrow, Richard Simmons, and Russell Brand, the health-conscious creations don't come cheap. Be honest: How many times have you illegally parked your car on Purdy Avenue to purchase an extremely overpriced (and overdesigned) plastic bottle filled with some exotic elixir of jalapeño juice, cold-pressed kale, ginger, beets, and green algae?

Sure, juicing is deliciously stomach-cinching. But there has to be a better way to get a daily dose of health without the commensurate exposure to a smug clientele, enviously clear-skinned attendants, and a hefty price tag.

There is! And its name is Richard's Fruit Center.

See also: Beehive Juice Bar Open at New Location

Located on NE Second Street a few blocks from Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, this shabby-chic neighborhood joint is quite a departure from the Miami Beach vibe. Owned and operated by Rafael (not Richard) Marin, the cozy establishment features two rows of stacked fruit flanking a short line of people eagerly awaiting Marin's signature detoxing green smoothies, vegetable juices, and wheatgrass shots.

It's not his first go at the fruit business. Marin began working at his family's juice bar of the same name when it was located in South Beach, at 13th Street and Collins Avenue. "My family had the lease for over 50 years. Back then, leases on the Beach were for 100 years," Marin explains.

After decades of catering to a clientele of plump German tourists, beach bums, and drag queens, Marin was ready for a change of pace. "We wanted to be the only juice bar in downtown, so we sold the lease and moved here in '97."

So what makes this place all that special? Apart from being in the juice game 17 years before it became a topic of discussion on Goop, there are the prices. With the average smoothie costing just $5.50, it's less than half the gelt we're used to shelling out for these concoctions. "Other places hike up the prices of their juice, but customers don't see a better product," Marin says.

The Green Detox is one of the bestsellers. A blend of spinach, kale, ginger, banana, orange juice, and ice, this tasty treat gives you the cleanest colon south of the Mason-Dixon. Paired with a scoop of Sunwarrior brown rice protein (even Whole Foods doesn't carry it), it makes for a filling midafternoon snack.

The smoothie itself looks like something Lady Gaga would hire a performance artist to vomit on her, but it's actually tasty and sweet. (For the more squeamish, you can get all-fruit smoothies and naturally sweet beet juices.)

Unlike the competitors, a trip to Richard's won't leave you feeling fiscally violated. Not only will you save yourself the emotional cost of overspending on a ten-ounce drink, but you'll also leave with the distinct sense of pride that comes from supporting a family-owned business looking to make juicing not just rewarding but also affordable.

Follow Neil Vazquez on Twitter @neilassquez and Instagram @officialcarsonkressley.

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