It’s really hot here.
Like, 100° + and high humidity hot. Walking outside, breathing outside, sitting outside, it all hurts.
Of course my dog still wants to sunbathe.
The heat makes me feel hostile so I try to make jokes about it so that I don’t cry. When it’s 98°, I blast 98 Degrees from my car stereo. It’s really not that funny, but when I’m sitting in a molten hot car, there’s nothing funnier. I think the heat’s making me delirious.
Some days the weather is both hot and breezy. But instead of having a cooling effect, the wind makes you feel like you’re baking in a convection oven. Smoothies were never something that I craved. Now I think about them all of the time. They’re so cool and refreshing and not 100 degrees.
A fun aspect to this smoothie quest is that it’s thrusting me into vegan restaurants, which I might not have previously felt an urgency to explore. Sometimes I follow a detox smoothie with Nachomama’s queso, but, still, I like trying new things.
Join me as I try as many smoothies in St. Louis as possible. They’re the only thing keeping me sane. Sure, they’re $8 which costs more than a coffee or a tea, but I consider them a treat. I’ve even shifted over some of my cocktail budget for smoothies. Let’s go.
This little cafe is hidden in a strip mall somewhere between the Richmond Heights Schnucks and a Fed Ex. The OR on the building sign looks like a decorative orange and squiggle, so all you can see is the word “smoothie.” I shopped at this mall about 30 times before I noticed it. OR’s website mentions they prepare food with sea salt, Bragg’s Amino Acids, organic produce, maple syrup, and cold press oils. They also clean and cook with reverse osmosis water and cleanse their blenders with a natural soap.
The space inside is sparse. There are several tables for dining-in. On this visit I didn’t notice anyone eating food, but the restaurant smelled enticing. The menu lists many vegan options like tempeh wraps but also includes salmon spring rolls and turkey sandwiches.
I ordered my first green smoothie. Here, it’s called the Miracle Green Smoothie and contains mango, orange, banana, and “organic miracle greens.” I have no idea what miracle greens are. I’d like to think they were blessed by someone powerful. The smoothie tasted like big, fruity, sweet, spinachy popsicle in smoothie form, of course. This isn’t a place I’d bring a book and chill, but would return post grocery-shopping.
The inside is bright and beautiful. People conversed over tables set with colorful greens and attractive pizzas. But before taking in the sights and scene, I noticed one thing: The smell. It struck me as glorious. I’m not even sure what I smelled, but the complex and savory scent erased any assumptions about vegan food.
When I asked the employee for a green smoothie recommendation, she mentioned the Coco Mojito made with coconut water, kale, mint, and lime. I set it on a tree stump table set with fresh flowers. Of all of the smoothies I’ve tried so far, this one was tasted the least sweet. In fact, it didn’t taste sweet at all, except for a faint hint from the lime juice. I found this intriguing and refreshing. The most predominant flavor was fresh mint followed by greenness of the fresh kale. I think that we’re often so accustomed to the flavor of fake mint that the taste of real mint is herby and unusual.
PuraVegan might be my new favorite place to chill with a beverage and book. I never expected to fall in love with a vegan cafe. On this first visit, I chose the Detox smoothie which blends almond milk, dates, beets, and dandelion greens (among other things). The small size costs $8. Half of this hefty smoothie filled me-up and I was happy to save the rest for later.
I loved the vibe here. The employees were friendly, the walls displayed colorful artwork, and the atmosphere felt peaceful. I watched as folks trickled in and out of the attached yoga studio next door. Outside, I parked at a table beneath a shady tree near a fortune-teller with a sign advertising $20 readings. Dog-walkers and their pets wandered by, pausing around a water bowl the store set next to a spigot. Every once in a while I’d feel a puppy tongue or snuffling whiskers brush my leg or hand. I could spend every day off here.
This little ice cream and popsicle counter is located inside a Mexican supermarket. The varieties of popsicles (paletas) displayed in the freezer case glitter like jewels. Some of them are artfully dotted with pieces of fruit like edible artwork.
A menu board lists smoothie flavors. If I was in a chocolately mood, I would have tried the Ferrero Rocher flavor. Instead I veered towards fruit. The woman who helped me mentioned strawberry and mango are their most popular fruit flavors, so I chose mango. She explained that they’re typically blended with milk and asked I’d rather prefer water. I was fine with milk.
I’m not sure what went into the smoothie, though I saw her scooping something from the ice cream bins into the blender. “Would you like me to squirt any chocolate into the cup?” she asked before pouring my smoothie. I said no, but, in hindsight, have regrets. The mango smoothie tasted creamy and sweet, like a mango milkshake. For $5, it made a nice treat on a hot day.
Look for more updates as I continue my smoothie quest and return to some of these cafes to try their food. Feel free to suggest your favorite smoothie, too.