When Under the Mango Tree opened in early 2011, owner Patricia Olesen had four juices and four smoothies on the menu, along with a hair-extension business operating out of a spare back room. Fast-forward four years, and the sliver of a space in a nondescript strip off Euclid Avenue and Sixth Street in South Beach has garnered a loyal following of health nuts with a hankering for peanut butter açaí bowls, spicy kale melts, and organic made-to-order juices.
Even the back room has become an organic market chock full of wholesome essentials such peanut butter, almond milk, açaí, spirulina, tomatoes, apples, and other produce. In fact, the transition to organic everything is the biggest change Under the Mango Tree has undergone since its introduction to the South Beach scene — that and sticking to its mantra: "Organic for the love of our community and Mother Earth," a phrase that's framed right next to the cash register.
The blackboard menu has organically evolved into a greatest-hits list. "We've always gone by what our guests wanted," manager Kristen Hartvurg says. At first selling mostly retail items and a lonesome juice of the day, the Jungle Book-style hut now proffers 16 varieties of juice and smoothies. Yogis ought to try the Happy Buddha, which packs beets, carrots, and oranges and will make you feel like a reborn baby. Peanut butter devotees will be particularly satisfied with the Marley. In it: spinach, kale, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, and agave. Want to have it your way? Make your own juice or smoothie using a choice of three ingredients. Prices have remained as modest as when the place first opened, with 18-ounce juices and smoothies selling for as little as $6 and 24 ounces for $9.50.
And though juice and smoothies are Under the Mango Tree's bread and butter, açaí bowls have become the meat and bones at this meatless joint. Again, you can have the Marley (raw açaí blended with banana, peanut butter and spinach topped with granola, sliced bananas, berries, and coconut shavings) in its somewhat solid form. If you're a chocoholic, the chocolate bowl with raw cacao, agave, granola, banana, raw cacao nibs, coconut shavings, more agave, and cinnamon is a healthful way to get your fix. My favorite (and guaranteed hangover cure) is the superfood bowl, which blends raw açaí with banana, spirulina, and maca and tops it with granola, sliced banana, coconut shavings, goji berries, and local honey. Prices for açaí bowls start at $8.50 for traditional and go up to $13.75 for XL. The latter will easily satiate two people in case you both have a hangover to cure. Is bread more your thing after a night of drinking? Choose from two melts: veggie and spicy kale.
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While you're at it, you can also shop for handcrafted candles (Olesen herself makes them using natural essential oils), bags, jewelry, and artisanal goods from Colombia, South Africa, and Peru. "Our products are always changing, but they are always coming from someone we directly know and are paying." If you need proof, simply look at the framed photos of the women making the jewelry you're contemplating buying.
Soon enough, you'll also be able to get schooled in food and environmental issues, because Under the Mango Tree plans to use all the extra seating in the market to host educational community events. For the time being, however, you'll have to settle for watching documentaries like Food Inc. while you chow down on your açaí bowl and are reassured you made the right decision by coming here.