The first time I made a smoothie, it was a disaster. I basically dumped a bunch of fruit and some milk in a blender with no idea of what I was doing. I soon found recipes from my friend, the Internet, and for a while, I made smoothies every day with strawberries, banana and sometimes kale and spinach.
My recipes were good, but none of them compared to the smoothies I could find at local restaurants. Then I discovered smoothie bowls, and I was hooked. When Playa Bowls opened a while back on the Atlanta BeltLine, I ate there twice a week. I would leave the office at lunchtime and savor a smoothie bowl on their patio, while soaking in the sun. I felt like I was at the beach. Which of course made it pretty hard to go back to the office.
There are a few restaurants on the Atlanta BeltLine that serve these healthy, refreshing smoothies, bowls and drinks. So if you're walking down the BeltLine in the blazing sun, getting thirsty, and you look down at your tepid water bottle with disgust - don't drink it. Try one of my favorite places to stop for a cold one (smoothie style, that is).
This is my favorite healthy restaurant on the BeltLine. Their luscious smoothie bowls, topped with perfectly ripe fruit, are creations of art. This is where I first tasted, even heard of, pitaya. It's just another name for dragon fruit, which is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and magnesium.
The over-the-top Electric Mermaid starts with a deep pink base of pitaya and is adorned with granola, kiwi, pineapple, mango, coconut and honey. I like to add walnuts or sliced almonds. My other favorite, and my fallback, is the pura vida acai bowl, topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries and honey. The bowls are huge and filling. I know what you're thinking - fruit, no! Too much sugar. But it's natural sugar, and your body processes it differently than refined sugar. Pitaya is actually known to lower blood sugar. Plus, the fiber makes you full.
Playa Bowls was started by a couple of surfers from the Jersey Shore, who wanted to replicate the acai smoothie bowls they found on their travels to Central America and other beach spots. They started a makeshift stand outside their apartment, educating people on the benefits of acai, and six years later, have stores around the country. (There is another Georgia location in Chamblee).
With an open air restaurant and surfboard tables on the patio overlooking the BeltLine, you will be transplanted to the Caribbean. They are located in SPX Alley, and I discovered that if you order pickup, you can park for free at Stoveworks, across from Krog Street Market. Cheers to that!
This was my favorite before Playa Bowls opened.
A local chain, Kale Me Crazy
planted its flag in Inman Park long before everyone else arrived. They call themselves a "superfood café," and you can find find a lot of fitness buffs here. My favorite drink is Recharge, a sweet green smoothie with kale, chard, coconut yogurt, almond milk, banana and vegan protein. It's all the greens you want, but with a predominant taste of coconut. And I do, in fact, feel like I've been rebooted afterward. I've tried their smoothie bowls, salads and one of their juice cleanses, but didn't care for the juice flavors (and was miserable without solid food). I also buy their jars of spirulina to put in my own smoothies at home. But their recipes keep me coming back.
Ju-C bar is a newcomer to Krog Street Market, and I tried them out as soon as they opened. The name is misleading, as they serve a lot more than juice, including smoothies, smoothie bowls, toasts, soups, salads, wraps and even a plant-based burger. But I went for the Berry Me All Over smoothie, with all the berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry), banana, raw honey and your choice of liquid. I think I got the almond milk, but you can also opt for coconut milk, coconut water, mango juice or guava juice, all of which sound delicious. They have a walk-up stall at Krog, with a very cool living wall behind their counter. So you can eat/drink at communal tables at Krog, or take it on the BeltLine.
This restaurant, in Ponce City Market, blew me away with its effervescent and adaptogenic teas. These drinks contain ingredients to reduce stress. It's the opposite of coffee, which hypes you up. These calm you down, while also giving you energy. My favorite is the Blue Butterfly latte, which looks as good as it tastes. It comes in a gorgeous blue and green hombre. The blue is from butterfly pea tea (common in southeast Asia and known to be good for stress and weight loss), and the green is from matcha. They are mixed with cinnamon (anti-inflammatory and regulates blood sugar) and maca (boosts energy) and blueberry (antioxidant and brain booster). I also love the Calm effervescent (sparkling) tea, which contains ashwagandha, a newly popular ancient medicinal herb believed to ease anxiety and stress. It is mixed with lavender and honey. I was immediately transported to the South of France, where the scent of lavender is everywhere. To learn more about Eleven TLC, check out my previous blog post.
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.
Note: We have paused our tours during the pandemic, but hope to ramp up again in 2021, as soon as it’s safe.