Capri Sun? Been there, sipped that. Now introduce your kid to Chicago’s fresh-squeezed juice scene. (Psst … it’s a great way to sneak in veggies!) We hopped around to town to find juice bars and cafes that focus on the all-natural stuff and have family-friendly atmospheres to boot. Grab a tall, healthy glass at one of these sunny spots, or take it to go and mosey through a park. It’s spring, after all!
photo: Real Good Juice Co.
Real Good Juice Co.
Why it deserves a squeeze: The locally owned Old Town newbie will be your new favorite place to pop in for a sandwich and cold-pressed juice, and treat the kids to a special smoothie. Sometimes there’s even a farm stand out front.
Walk in (or wheel in — it’s completely stroller friendly) to the sun-filled space and make yourself at home at a communal table. They offer 10-ounce cold-pressed juices which boast three pounds of organic produce per bottle and come with witty names like Juicille Ball and Punky Juice-ster; ingredients include greens, carrots, beets, apples, lemon ginger and coconut water. For a snack there is dehydrated fruit and granola. But for those really rumbling tummies, try a fun take on toast, the Arnold J. Toastington the Third: It comes topped with homemade almond butter and jam.
1647 N. Wells St.
Online: realgoodjuiceco.com (go to their site to check out their commercial, it’s pretty creative and good for a giggle)
photo: Peeled Juice Bar
Peeled Juice Bar
Why it deserves a squeeze: Grownups will love the juices for their nourishing merits (and cheeky monikers), while to-go sips from Peeled storefronts are ideal for kids looking for their daily dose of produce.
On the front lines of delicious, slurpable nutrition, Peeled makes artisanal juices in small batches to ensure maximum retention of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The fact that they’re also irresistibly refreshing and satisfying is the cherry on top. Peeled works its magic from a local micro-juicery, selling the fruits of their labors at sun-splashed juice bars in Lincoln Park and Evanston. Only all-natural ingredients need apply, resulting in pure, flavorful concoctions with quirky drink names like Raspberry Beret and Strong Like Bull.
1571 N. Sheffield Ave.
940 Church St.
Why it deserves a squeeze: This LA-based franchise has been blending juices and smoothies for twenty years so they know how to create a tasty and healthy treat.
This is the only Illinois location of Robeks and juice and smoothie lovers have flocked here for years for favorites like the Hummingbird with mango, strawberries and bananas and the ABC with apple, beet and carrot juices.
2936 Showplace Dr.
The Lifeway Kefir Shop
Why it deserves a squeeze: Come for the frozen kefir, yogurt’s quirky BFF, and stay for the just-as-tasty juice.
While they may have built their reputation on frozen kefir (think frozen yogurt, but with more probiotic cultures), Lifeway knows what it’s doing when it comes to fruit. In case the name didn’t make that obvious. Put down the kefir and the spoons for a minute and try some of Starfruit’s juices. You won’t be disappointed. Especially when the flavor options are as vibrant and alluring as Limelight with apple, cucumber and lime or Invincible that blends apple, lemon and orange. For a pick-me-up, try an Energizer smoothie (pineapple, mango, coconut, and energy boost) or Green Dream, a super-green mix of spinach, kale, banana, and pomegranate kefir. It’s like a salad through a straw.
1745 West Division
222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza
Block 37, 108 N. State St.
Why it deserves a squeeze: A must-visit for weekend brunch, this Greektown staple has fresh squeezes on the daily, good for sipping on the spot or on the go.
You may know this neighborhood fave for its Greek-inflected breakfast and brunch menu. We’re talking scramblers, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, French toast, pancakes and waffles, plus vegan and gluten-free options (hello, polenta pancakes). But you’d be remiss in missing the juice bar, a pivotal portion of Meli’s menu. Beyond your standard OJ and apple juice (which are both available for traditionalists), Meli ventures into hearty meal-in-a-glass territory with juice blends such as celery-apple-carrot, mango-orange-kiwi-honey and wheatgrass-pineapple-apple-pear-lemon.
301 S. Halsted St.
photo: Left Coast Food and Juice
Left Coast Food and Juice
Why it deserves a squeeze: famed Chicago Chef, Paul Kahan, developed the menu.
What was once a former greasy hamburger joint is now a healthy, family friendly fast food restaurant with a fantastic juice bar. It also completes the kiddie foodie trifecta, as it’s right by Heritage Littles and The Kids’ Table. Start your morning with a Mornin’ Buzz smoothie for you (espresso, cacao, peanut butter, macca powder, banana and dates) and a kid’s Sophia’s Strawberry Milk (cashew milk, strawberries, beet juice powder, agave and vanilla) for your little sidekick. If you’re looking for something more substantial to go with your juice or smoothie, Left Coast has a complete menu divided into First Wave (breakfast), Greens, Grains, Wraps, and, of course, Kiddos.
2878 N. Lincoln Ave.
photo: Harvest Juicery
Why it deserves a squeeze: The owners boast backgrounds in both the restaurant and fitness industries, resulting in the best of both worlds in their unique juice blends.
Fresh, locally sourced, and seasonal fruits and vegetables are the stars of the bottles at Harvest Juicery, a splash of sunshine under the El tracks in their West Loop location. Bolstered with life-affirming spices and herbs, each juice medley tastes more like a composed entree or dessert that just so happens to be drinkable. Give your teeth a rest and “chow down” on fruit-based concoctions like the pear-pineapple-ginger-thyme juice or the watermelon-cayenne-sweet basil. Green juices include the Sweet Green with kale, celery, spinach, cucumber, and pineapple, and the Easy Green with spinach, kale, parsley, apple, celery, and lemon. There’s even a Brussels sprout juice for the daring child. Plus dessert-y smoothies and cocoa-infused pistachio milk for the not-so-daring.
125 S. Clark St.
1012 W. Lake St.
Why it deserves a squeeze: It’s like a year-round local farmers market – housed inside a music venue.
Founded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and named after owner Alexandra Curatolo’s pet French Bulldog, Belli’s brings healthy, local food to Pilsen. When you walk in, you’re greeted with art created by local artists and a colorful menu with concoctions featuring fresh local and organic leafy greens for a daily dose of essential vitamins. For the more adventurous, there is even Kombucha on tap. The menu changes seasonally as different produce is available (Belli’s works with urban farmers in Chicago and local farmers in the Midwest). Not only will your body feel great when you enjoy Belli’s, but so will your heart – 10% of all profits are given to community health and food education programs.
1223 W. 18th St. (inside Thalia Hall)
Did we mention your favorite juice bar? Tell everyone about it in the Comments!
— Jen Peterson & Matt Kirouac