If you live in New York City or are a frequent visitor, it’s likely you’re no stranger to the acai craze in this city. Sometimes it feels like a new acai bowl shop pops up every single day. While acai bowls may not be well-known in other parts of the country, it’s safe to say that New York City is quite the acai mecca. Needless to say, there’s no shortage of amazing places to grab an acai smoothie or acai bowls in NYC, but we like the best of the best. So, how do you know you’re getting the most value for your money, the best flavor, and the freshest ingredients? Here, we’re highlighting a handful of the most popular smoothie bars in the city serving up everyone’s favorite acai bowls, so you’ll know exactly where to find the best bowl in town next time a craving strikes.
What is Acai?
Before we dive into our acai analysis, let’s talk about what acai actually is. First off, let’s start with the pronunciation. By far, acai is the most commonly mispronounced fruit on the planet. While it is commonly referred to as ah-SIGH or ah-KAI, acai is actually pronounced ah-sigh-EE. Don’t worry if you’ve been mispronouncing it forever, though, as it’s unlikely to be confused with any other fruit. No it’s not a blueberry, though it definitely resembles one. Acai is a small berry resembling a cross between a blueberry and a grape. It’s small, round, and deeply purple-colored and it can be found mostly in South America, stemming from acai palm trees. While acai berries all contain a very large seed in the center (the seed accounts for 80% of the entire berry), the flesh and skin are still packed with the deliciousness we know and love.
Acai berries claim a number of health benefits, and with a nutritional profile that includes powerful antioxidants, fiber, omega-3s and calcium, it’s easy to see how these small berries can pack such a powerful nutritional punch. Acai berries actually contain more antioxidants than any other commonly-eaten fruit on the planet! Below are just a few of the health benefits acai berries provide:
We love doubling down on acai during the fall and winter because of their immune benefits. Thanks to a powerful array of antioxidants, consuming acai has been known to increase the immune system and ward off colds and flu. Moreover, they protect against free radical damage and inflammation, two major contributors to a number of health conditions.
Increased Bone Density
Thanks to their high amount of calcium, acai berries can boost bone density to prevent osteoporosis. Plus, calcium supports healthy nerve and muscle function.
Acai berries are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy, glowing skin. Plus, diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been known to combat signs of aging like dry skin with fine lines and acne. Acai is an excellent alternative to skin care products laden with harmful chemicals, and skin care companies have actually started incorporating acai oil into their ingredients, as the berry provides powerful skin benefits when applied topically as well.
Clocking in at just 70 calories per cup, acai berries provide an excellent nutritional profile for very little calories. Plus, thanks to their dietary fiber, they’ll help keep you fuller, longer.
Again, thanks to acai’s dietary fiber, these little berries are a great way to support a healthy digestive system naturally by keeping things running smoothly. What’s more, their antioxidant content helps aid the detoxification process, making digestion even more beneficial.
Like many other fruits and vegetables, consuming acai berries promotes a natural increase in energy because the healthy, natural sugar content is readily-available to your system. Rather than reaching for a cup of coffee or drinking an unnatural energy drink, reach for a handful of acai berries during your afternoon slump and you’ll feel an immediate boost of energy without that dreaded crash later in the day.
Where to Get the Best Acai Bowls in NYC
Now that we’ve covered all of the amazing health benefits of acai, let’s talk about where you can find the best acai bowls in the city. While there are a number of different ways to consume acai, the long-standing favorite is definitely an acai bowl. Acai bowls are creamy, decadent smoothie bowls that only seem unhealthy. While they may seem like you’re eating an indulgent bowl of ice cream, you’re actually doing your body good by packing it with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We love acai bowls topped with fresh fruits, granola, or nut butters. Without further ado, let’s talk about where you can find these little bowls of goodness.
Pure Green Cold Pressed Juice and Smoothies is obviously number one on our list. Not to toot our own horn, but we firmly believe that Pure Green’s acai bowls are among the very best in NYC. With flavors like Mixed Berry Acai and Coconut Chia Acai, it’s no wonder city dwellers find these bowls so irresistible. At Pure Green, we mix our bowls with ingredients like mangoes, pineapples, bananas, coconut water, almond milk, chia seeds and cold pressed apples, making them among the healthiest you’ll find. Hands down, though, our favorite bowl is the Pure Green Acai Bowls. Make it at home with the directions below:
1 cup acai berries, frozen
1 tbsp spirulina powder
1 frozen banana
½ cup almond milk
½ cup cold pressed apple juice
1 handful hemp granola
1 handful fresh blueberries
½ sliced banana
Add all ingredients to a blender (except the granola, fresh blueberries and sliced banana) and blend until smooth. Pour acai blend into a bowl and top with the remaining ingredients. Serve in a bowl with a spoon and enjoy.
While there are plenty of Pure Green locations to find an acai bowl all over the city, if you happen to find yourself far from one of our stores, you can check out Juice Generation. Juice Generation is another New York City staple, offering up cold pressed juice, smoothies, and of course, acai bowls. Some fan favorites include the Aloha Acai, made with strawberries, pineapple, coconut and bee pollen, and the Jackpot, mixed with jackfruit, kiwi, strawberries and coconut oil. While many of these ingredients may seem exotic, you can actually find many of them at your local farmer’s market or fruit stand. Want to try recreating the Jackpot acai bowl at home? Check out our adapted recipe below and let us know how it turns out!
1 cup acai berries, frozen
1 banana, frozen
½ cup almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 jackfruit, sliced and frozen
½ cup frozen mangoes
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 handful granola
2 tbsp almond butter
Add all ingredients (except the granola and almond butter) to a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and top with granola and almond butter. Optional toppings include sliced banana, coconut shavings, chia seeds...feel free to experiment and add your own creative toppings!
Bliss Bowls is another excellent option if you’re in the city and need a quick, healthy pick-me-up. While Bliss Bowls is a lesser-known health spot, their acai bowls still pack that same healthy punch we’re all craving. Some of their signature bowls include the Nutty Banana Acai as well as the Tropical Avocado Acai (yes, this one is actually blended with avocado!). The best part about Bliss Bowls’ offerings, though, is there booster selection. That’s right, you can add a booster to any acai bowl to make it even healthier! Booster options include multivitamins, flaxseed oil, b-complex, whey protein and echinacea. Below, check out our adapted recipe for their Tropical Avocado Bowl and make this baby at home:
1 cup frozen acai berries
1 cup almond milk
1 frozen banana
1 frozen avocado, sliced
1 handful blueberries
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp nut butter of choice
Blend the acai berries, almond milk, banana and avocado in a blender until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, then top with blueberries, honey and nut butter. Feel free to add in granola, chia seeds, coconut, or any other creative toppings you’d like to make this bowl your own!
There’s No Shortage of Acai Bowls in NYC
We’re so thankful to live in a city that supports a healthy lifestyle, and we love having our pick of acai bowls around every corner. Next time you’re in New York City, stop by Pure Green to try one of our delicious acai bowls and let us know how they compare to others you’ve tried in the city! Until then, stay healthy and keep enjoying your acai bowls everyday!