Açaí 101: The Best Spots in Orlando

Say it with me: ah-sigh-EE. From Pinterest boards to Instagram stories, these trendy, clean eats have been everywhere these past few years, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a sucker for a good Insta post. Açaí is a grape-looking fruit, harvested in South America that so many health-fiends have major heart eyes over (including me).

Orlando is a hub for trends, so it makes sense that açaí juiceries are on nearly every corner of our city. Let me guide you to the best bowls in town, and you can trust me — I’ve been eating them every day for three months. I like to think I have some credibility in this area of life.

  1. 1. 3 Natives

    UCF’s home base for a midday pick-me-up. Just five minutes from the main campus, you really can’t go wrong with this classic. It's perfect to pick up on the way home from class or for a brunch date with your roomies over the weekend. Their granola is the standard for me — so crunchy, and sweet enough to leave your mouth watering, asking for the whole bag of it. My go-to is The Local, which is a bowl of happiness…I mean açaí, of course, granola, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and honey. You can always go the extra mile (which is always a good idea) and get almond butter or Nutella drizzled on top for a superstar experience. Even if açaí isn’t your thing, they have the best wraps, sandwiches and juices. 

  2. 2. Purple Ocean Superfood Bar

    My holy grail. Purple Ocean specializes in all kinds of superfoods, from the beloved açaí bowl to smoothies and even vegan burgers! This gem used to be a food truck in Waterford Lakes Shopping Center, but they just recently opened up a storefront not too far away! Since I’m there every Sunday as part of my “treat yourself” weekend routine, I’m always front and center ordering a Tres Palmas — açaí, granola, strawberries, bananas, pineapples, mangos, coconut flakes, honey and coconut oil. I know you’re probably thinking “I use coconut oil to sautee my broccoli, why would I want that on my smoothie bowl?” Hear me out, this is what makes Purple Ocean so delish. It’s a semi-sweet coating they top off the bowl with, and it hardens like how chocolate coatings do on ice cream cones — same vibe. Moral of the story: don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

  3. 3. SOHO Juice Company

    Here we have an Orlando cult classic. This one’s a little further of a drive from UCF, but totally worth it. If you’re into planning, go to Trader Joe’s, then make a pit-stop here on the way home, and you’ll be golden. SOHO makes sure no one leaves hungry as they have a bowl for everyone in a variety of sizes. You can build your own bowl from scratch or trust the masterminds behind the counter by choosing one from their solidified signature menu items. If you go the more creative route, you’ll get to choose your bases: açaí, overnight oats, pitaya or chia pudding, ultimately picking between two to five depending on which size you get. Now, what keeps me coming back here is the free unlimited toppings. Yes, you read that right — free. If you need me, I’ll be here ordering a three full base açaí bowl with goji berry granola, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, unsweetened almond butter, shredded coconut, honey and cacao chips. My favorite type of food coma.

  4. 4. Clean Juice

    Having a picnic at Oviedo on the Park? Clean Juice has the good eats, you bring the good vibes. I go here when I’m in the mood for a little something different. The Beach Bowl is my treasure of choice as açaí, granola, pineapple, banana and coconut can always put a smile on my face (all only at 500 calories!). I close my eyes and enjoy the island bites, pretending I’m in the Caribbean when really, I’m in Zoom University learning how the economy works from the comfort of my sweet, sweet bed. Plus, they have a lovely rewards system that I’m a big fan of. Getting points that leads to free açaí? Sign me up.   

  5. 5. DIY it

    acai bowl

    I truly have saved the best for last. Want to join in on the açaí frenzy, but don’t have the cash right now? No biggie, I got you covered. See, I told you to trust me in the beginning. Everything’s coming full circle, huh? When I don’t feel like spending $100 per week on these beauties, I become the mastermind behind the counter and take matters into my own hands. Here’s how:

    Ingredients 

    - 1 frozen package of Trader Joe’s Organic Frozen Açaí Puree Packets 

    - Splash of almond milk

    - Splash of pineapple juice

    - ½ Frozen banana

    - ¼ Cup of frozen mango

    - 1 Banana

    - 4-5 Strawberries

    - Handful of raspberries 

    - Handful of blueberries 

    - Handful of Good & Gather French Vanilla Almond Granola

    - Sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Raw Sliced Almond

    - Sprinkle of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips

    - Drizzle of Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Raw Almond Butter

    - Drizzle of honey 

    Steps

    1. Put frozen acai, almond milk and pineapple juice in a blender and puree until smooth

    2. Add frozen banana and frozen mango to the mixture and blend until desired texture (expert tip: scrape the sides of the blender and help move it around with a spatula)

    3. Pour into a bowl and set in the freezer while you prep the toppings

    4. Cut your fruit into bite-sized pieces

    5. Take the bowl out of the freezer and place granola and almonds atop of the açaí mixture

    6. Place fruit on top of granola (+2 points if you make it pretty)

    7. Place chocolate chips atop of fruit

    8. Drizzle almond butter and honey 

    9. Enjoy your fruity, delectable masterpiece (and feel good about doing it — yay health!)

If eating healthier and losing weight was one of your 2021 resolutions, I think you ended up in the right place. My favorite thing about açaí bowls is that it satisfies my notorious sweet tooth but does so in a healthier way than having a bowl of ice cream. Wherever you get your açaí, let your phone eat first. The ‘gram tends to get hungry a lot.