Where to grab a fantastic açai bowl
A patio of wild, twisting plants justifies the name at Açai Jungle Bowls Cafe, but this Burbank cafe on Victory Boulevard is only disheveled on the outside. Inside, you'll find civilization: geometric tiled patterns abound and bookshelves display organic goods for purchase. Simplicity rules the açai menu. Sizes range from Classic ($6) to Power ($8) to a truly colossal Jungle ($12), and each bowl comes with açai, granola, and a banana plus one other topping (additional toppings are available for $1 each). Mangos, goji berries, coconut flakes, slivered almonds and more can be piled over a fresh heaping of açai, which is on the thicker side and maintains a firm consistency even in the Valley heat.
Nestled into a small strip mall in Brentwood (with a second location in Pacific Palisades) is Açai Nation, a smoothie and açai bowl shop where surfboards hang from the walls and fake grass lines the floor. An enthusiastic employee will happily walk you through both the most popular items and her own personal favorites, but there's plenty to choose from either way. The list of bowls ($7.95 for a small, $10.95 for a large) ranges from a classic mix of açai, fruit, coconut flakes and granola to ones featuring cocoa flakes and chia seeds; customized bowls are also available. Açai Nation is generous with fruit, and a hefty selection of granola to choose from is a nice touch. The açai is a tad sweeter than some other picks in town, but it's still undeniably fresh, smooth and indulgent—and with a '90s soundtrack playing in the background, we're sold.
Born in Santa Barbara, Backyard Bowls has made its way to Beverly with a sleek, minimalstic design and kickass açai bowls. It's not just that the sizeable bowls are well worth the average $10 you'll be spending on them (the small is plenty, trust us); the mangoes taste like they've been plucked straight from the trees, the bananas are always perfectly ripe and the blended açai is consistently creamy. Place your order—we're partial to the Island Bowl, which includes mango, pineapple juice and coconut milk—then move on down the line to watch your pick being whipped up behind a glass work station. There are porridge bowls, too, like Mama's Oatmeal and Ancient Grains, along with a slew of smoothies and Four Barrel coffee.
Berry Bowl's façade is bright green and smack in the middle of York Boulevard in Highland Park. Here you'll find juice, smoothies and wellness shots, but the focus of the shop is açai bowls. The Green Bowl blends kale and spinach with pineapple, banana and strawberry; each bite is a flavor bomb of fruits and veggies that goes beyond just plain healthy. For a more indulgent option, both the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bowls are blended with chocolate almond milk and topped with cacao nibs. Berry Bowl also has a Pitaya Bowl (dragonfruit) blended with mango, raspberry, banana and hemp milk. Three sizes are available: large ($9.25), regular ($7.95) and kid's ($4.95), the last of which is useful when you're torn between two bowls.
Across from BierBeisl Imbiss, a sausage-slinging Austrian eatery, sits Green Grotto Juice Bar, a disctinctly different member of the Spring Street Arcade family. Here you'll find organic, fresh-pressed juices and smoothies chock full of fruits, veggies, herbs and seeds, along with an impressive açai bowl selection. Bowls come in one size ($8.25), with uplifting names like the Lover and the Simple Climber. Sometimes the blended açai runs on the soupy side, but the explosion of flavor more than makes up for it. Take, for example, the Believer: a blend of açai, citrus fruits, lemon and mint is combined with a hefty helping of ginger, brightening each spoonful with a refreshing tang. Dig in!
Juice Crafters is a gourmet juice bar with multiple locations across LA, using raw and natural ingredients to create cold-pressed juices and “powerhouse smoothies.” But while their juices might be the most ordered items, the açai bowls here shouldn't be overlooked. There are only a couple options on the menu—the Brazilian Super Blend and the Kale Blend, both $9.99—both of which come in huge, one-size portions that are easily enough for two meals. We're partial to the Brazilian Super Blend, a simple mix of açai, almond granola, banana, strawberry and coconut flakes. The coconut flakes are huge and on the sweet side, but they provide a great textural contrast to the creamy açai blend below.
A whole cafe dedicated to superfoods? Harvest Bar, you shouldn't have. Crafting açai bowls piled high with toppings of your choice, the Sherman Oaks health spot is a prime pick for grabbing breakfast without guilt. There are custom bowls available, like the Tropical (packed with pineapple, mango, coconut milk, açai and more), that you can add on to with additional toppings. For those who hate making decisions, the Signature Bowls are all set menu items that combine your favorite superfoods with nuts, granola, fruit and every other hippie-fare your heart desires.
With locations in Koreatown, Northridge, Tarzana and Thousand Oaks, Ubatuba Açai has won over açai bowl fans in the Valley and beyond. It's not hard to see why—the affordable bowls ($6.50 for a small, $8.50 for a medium, $12 for a large) are filled to the brim with creamy scoops of açai, and it only goes up from there. The Uba—Ubatuba's traditional bowl—is topped with banana, strawberry, granola and an extra topping, while the Puruba includes pineapple and the Félix features bee pollen and cacao nibs. Extra toppings include more fruit options, nuts, seeds, powders and dairy. Oh, and if you're looking for something more than an açai bowl, Ubatuba sells delicious empanadas, too.