The açaí bowl trend has garnered a vast group of devotees in Miami, with dozens of eateries creating their own variation of the healthy, art-in-a-bowl concept. Though its aesthetically pleasing look is no secret, what's on the inside is.
The meat of every açaí bowl is its base, which is a frozen purée of the açaí berry, a Brazilian superfruit commonly found in the Amazon. The antioxidant-rich berry is known to have an array of health benefits, including healing, immunity, and energy-boosting effects. While frozen açaí can be found in local health-food stores such as Whole Foods or ordered online at Amazon, eateries around town have created their own unique spin on the traditional bowl.
Besides its beauty, the ice-cream-like texture and tropical, sweet-sour taste make this bite perfect for an energy-rich breakfast or a healthy afternoon treat. Most bowls are made by blending the purée with a variety of fruits, like strawberries and bananas, and a choice of milk, such as almond, soy, or coconut. What gets sprinkled on top is up to you. The simpler ones add a few fruit slices and granola, but some bowls are known to get eccentric, with toppings like peanut butter, chocolate bits, and shredded coconut.
Here are the ten top places in Miami-Dade that have created their own version of the Brazilian delicacy:
10. Choices Organic Café
For a classic yet simple açaí bowl in a cozy setting, vegan-eatery Choices Café, at 2626 Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables, is the place. Blended with banana and almond milk, it's topped with your choice of fresh fruit and sprinkled with coconut flakes and cinnamon. It might not be as elaborate as others on this list, but sometimes the simpler, the better.
9. Raw South Juice
If you find yourself in Dadeland, detour to Raw South Juice (9804 SW 77th Ave.) for the Strawberry Supreme açaí bowl. Made with a frozen blend of açaí and bananas, this bowl's big, juicy strawberries make it so sweet. Ask for chia seeds and granola to give it some crunch.
8. Organic Bites
"Once upon a time, all food was organic." That's the motto at Organic Bites, located on Biscayne Biscayne Boulevard at NE 70th Street, and it definitely applies to its açaí bowl. The folks here want to show diners that organic food doesn’t have to be pricey, including açaí. The Açaí in a Bowl does just that: It’s simple, made with the day’s freshest fruit, and is large enough to serve two, making it well worth the $11 price tag. Blueberries and strawberries are the traditional fruit of choice, but you can ask for other available seasonal fruits. Granola and honey can be added for a sweeter, more textural finish.
7. Brickell Fresh
If you’re on the go and can't stop for a meal, pop in to Brickell Fresh, a health-conscious café at 52 SW 10th St. The ingredients of the menu's lone açaí bowl ($9) are straightforward: blended açaí and banana topped with fresh seasonal fruit of your choice, crunchy granola, and coconut shavings. It's a perfect little pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the day.
6. Carrot Express
At Carrot Express, a health-food counter located inside the Texaco service station at Alton Road and 18th Street in South Beach, order the açaí bowl as you wait for a car wash. Made with blended açaí and banana and topped with roasted-almond granola, fresh fruit, and coconut flakes, it's one of the most popular items on the menu.
5. Raw Republic
Raw Republic (20804 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) makes an açaí bowl that tastes like a treat from a frozen-yogurt or ice-cream shop, thanks to the added toppings. The PB&A bowl is a must-try for açaí lovers with a sweet tooth. The bowl is mixed with almond milk and topped with granola, cacao bits, bananas, and, of course, a spoonful of peanut butter. It's a perfect mix of a healthy and indulgent.
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4. Apple a Day
It's no surprise that Apple a Day's Rio bowl made the top ten — New Times has named it a "Best Of" before. Forget apples — eating the Miami Beach-made bowl once a day is what really keeps the doctor away. The Rio, which is a beloved breakfast food in Brazil, is mixed with frozen açaí and apple juice; then it's topped with bananas and granola for texture.
3. Jugofresh Sunset Harbour
If you’re at Jugofresh in Sunset Harbour, it’s only fitting you try the Sunset Harbour bowl. It’s topped with Brazilian nut crumble, bananas, strawberries, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs and then drizzled with raw honey. Though it’s more festive to eat a Sunset Harbour in Sunset Harbour, this bowl is available at all Jugofresh locations.
2. Under the Mango Tree
Under the Mango Tree, a local organic café and market on Sixth Street in South Beach, is a convenient spot for a post-beach-day healthy snack. Try the Superfood bowl, which blends açaí with banana, spirulina, and maca and tops it with granola, sliced banana, coconut shavings, goji berries, and local honey. Grab it for less than $10 and pair it with one of the DIY juices or smoothies.
1. GreenLife Miami
The OG bowl at Coral Gables' GreenLife Organic Bistro (104 Giralda Ave.) is the kitchen sink of açaí bowls. It’s made with açaí and fused with guarana and banana. But what makes this bowl special is the medley of fruits — banana, strawberries, and blueberries, to name just a few. Feel free to ask for more. Coconut shavings and granola are sprinkled all around too. Ask for crunchy almond butter and raw cacao nibs if you feel like going a little crazy.
Follow Clarissa Buch on Twitter.