A new juice bar has opened on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. Juice bars are not new, but I’d heard their set up was a little different so I thought I’d check it out.
Valencia is a very gentrified area of The Mission. Think lots of independent furniture design stores, clothing stores awash with hipster apparel and a myriad of smart restaurants and coffee houses. The walkways outside are embedded with glitter which pleases my magpie heart. Ooh, shiny. It is a street that holds much for the avid people watcher.
Project Juice Bar San Francisco has a clean, simple and minimalist interior. I felt healthy just standing inside and perusing their extensive and creative menu of smoothies and juices. The staff were super friendly and helped me to make my selection. Along with the smoothies they have raw wraps and tempting desserts.
I spotted in the chiller a coconut-meat wrap stuffed with house-made vegan, cream cheese. I’m going back for that sucker. Today though I felt in the mood for smoky, so I ordered the Southwestern Burrito to go with my smoothie of choice. Though the juices are fresh pressed to maintain ALL their nutrients and enzymes so thrice super healthy, I only had eyes for a thick, decadent smoothie.
CALI CARROT $9.00 House-Made Almond Mylk, Cold-Pressed Carrot Juice, Raw Coconut Meat, Dates, Hunza Raisins, Lucuma, Cinnamon, Spices. It is said there is 5 lbs of produce in each bottle.
I’m not one for overly sweet so I asked them to omit the raisins. My order arrived within minutes and I took a stool at the window to begin feasting. The smoothie was thick, creamy, and the cinnamon was sweet harmony. I tucked into my burrito. A delight, let me say. I was not a particular fan of the little pot of salsa, but the wrap itself was smokey and crisp (from the lettuce) and bbq sweet. As if that was not enough to delight my senses it just so happened I turned up when they were experimenting with a new smoothie. My eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning when I was handed their seasonal no-egg nog to try. It is made from a base of their turmeric mylk with added nutmeg eggnog flavour notes. I was actually full by now but I took it on for my dessert stomach, which always seems to be very accommodating and nudges over and make room for sweet things. The flavour was insanely good, my head was in my hands and the wonder of it. Seriously. Project Juice have a full time chef on staff. Together they are making flavour whoopee!
I also sampled the Buff Beatnik, Berry Blaze and the Chocoholic. I think I consumed a gazillion calories but hey, it’s the holidays! And everything is made from healthy ingredients. Sourced locally (for the most part. Their fresh coconuts come from the Philippines. They use as much of the coconut as they can, even using the husk and shell to make vegan activated charcoal to go into their Black Magic hangover cure/detox juice). Greg & Rachel, the owners of the Project Juice bar take pride in personally knowing all their suppliers.
Valencia is their forth location. The fifth to follow soon on Market Street. They also deliver detox and cleansing packs direct to your home. Their first store only opened 1.5 years ago, after a successful Kickstarter Campaign helped to get their vision off the ground. The couple had moved from the East coast where they’d been daily patrons of Organic Avenue. Rachel said that when they arrive 4 years ago there was nowhere in San Francisco where she could go to for uber healthy food and smoothies/juices. Being celiac and allergic to eggs and dairy, Rachel had turned her health around prior to coming to San Francisco by adopting a mainly vegan diet. Frustrated the couple decided to take the matter into their own hands and open a healthy juice bar in San Francisco themselves.
As I find so often in these stories, there is usually a nice path that leads (not always straight..sometimes a little squiggly) to career Nirvana. Rachel’s background had previously been working with autistic children. Through her work she was particularly interested in the nutritional effects on these children. Studies now prove that careful focus on nutrition has been found to help with symptoms. She’d attended many nutritional courses, so coupled with her studies, research and experience of finding health for herself it kind of dovetailed and gave her the impetus she needed to begin Project Juice. Greg had had a long career in investment banking in the food sector. See how that works?! In their whirlwind last 18 months the couple even managed to have a child. It must be the super foods keeping them going!
I had begun to think that the vegan food scene had stagnated in the City but things seem to be gaining fresh energy. That can only be good.