Restaurant News & Reviews

4 smoothie spots with lots of local flavor

ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

The wonderful thing about smoothies is that they can serve as snacks, desserts and meal replacements. Charlotte is fortunate to have a fair number of locally based smoothie shops. And now that the weather is getting warmer and layers of clothing are giving way to shorts and swimsuits, there’s no better time to get serious about what’s going into my mouth – or to be more specific, up my straw.

Berrybrook Farm Natural Food Pantry

1257 East Blvd., 704-334-6528.

When it comes to smoothies, I’m usually a berry kind of girl – no pun intended. But the Nutty Finger ($6.25) may have converted me. It may also be the best smoothie I had during this little odyssey.

It tastes like a Butterfinger minus the chocolate. Wheat grass gives a green tinge to this super-thick banana and peanut butter concoction. Soy milk lends a wonderful creaminess. Of all the smoothies I tried, this one felt like a legitimate meal replacement.

If you are looking for a little chocolate, the chocolate ginger snap (soy milk, walnuts, banana, ginger, maple syrup and cocoa) sounds divine. Berrybrook has 30-plus smoothie offerings, including the Purple Passion (blueberry, banana, yogurt and papaya juice).

Green Brothers Juice Co.

101 S. Tryon St., 704-575-9280.

Owner and co-founder Josh Norris decided to name his smoothie company “Green Brothers” because he “wanted a brand that had a nostalgic feel and a legitimacy and honesty to it.” It doesn’t get much more legitimate and honest than growing your own spinach, kale and parsley in the back hallway of your business.

Some of the veggies (such as the spinach) grown in Green’s hydroponic garden tower make their way into the Green Hornet smoothie ($6.45). Frozen bananas make the smoothie cold, while almond milk, peanut butter, broccoli and spirulina (a blue-green algae) round things out.

Another popular smoothie is the Earthquake with mango, cherry, carrot juice, spinach and hemp protein.

Luna’s Living Kitchen

200 South Blvd., 704-333-0008.

Just walking into Luna’s makes you feel like you are doing something healthy. The dining room is light, airy and cool as can be. Luna freezes its fruit, which helps make the smoothies thick.

The Avocolada smoothie ($8) reminds me of a piña colada. The fat from the avocado gives the smoothie an almost mousse-like consistency. But the pineapple and apple juice is what you taste the most. There’s also organic coconut, vanilla and apple juice mixed in.

For a smoothie with a little more tang, the Flying Lucy brings together fresh squeezed lemonade, a bit of heat from fresh juiced ginger, bananas, pineapple and spirulina.

Carolina Smoothie

1408 East Blvd. 704-358-0006.

Anna Park opened her business in 1995, so if she wasn’t ahead of the smoothie curve, she was certainly riding on top of it.

Carolina divides its smoothies into five categories – berry, orange, tropical, peach and specialty. I found the Detox ($4.85) on the specialty menu. You’ll need some strong cheek muscles to slurp up the combination of raspberry, blueberry, banana, apple, nonfat frozen yogurt, honey and antioxidant pack.

The next time I visit, I want to try the Peach Persuasion. If summer were a smoothie, it might taste like this blend of peaches, strawberries, banana, pineapple and nonfat frozen yogurt.

Robin Domeier is owner of Nibbles Personal Chef (rdomeier@carolina.rr.com).

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