Acai (a-sigh-ee) bowls seem to have captured the minds, mouths, and wallets of Sequoia students. But which of the two nearby restaurants is better—Vitality Bowls or Bare Bowls?
Acai bowls are somewhere between a smoothie and ice-cream. The base is a thick blend of frozen fruit, notably the ‘superfood’ Acai berries, and is topped with a variety of options, ranging from chocolate, to fruit, to granola and to honey. The fad seemed to pop up last year, with Bare Bowls opening last fall, and Vitality Bowls opening last spring.
I’ve evaluated the two shops based on five categories: location, menu variety, ambiance, price, and, of course, taste. I’ve also included a do-it-yourself recipe, just to make sure I do not become responsible for the bankruptcy of the entirety of Sequoia. Acai bowls are expensive.
Vitality Bowls was just a short walk from Sequoia, right by the movie theater. For pedestrians, it’s perfect. For drivers, be aware: parking is non-existent.
Menu Variety: *****
I was overwhelmed by the variety of options on the menu. With bowls, smoothies, cookies, juices, soups, salads and even sandwiches, this café really can satisfy any craving.
Service and Ambience: ****
When I went up to order, I still had no idea of what to get. I asked the server behind the counter for advice. He cheerfully suggested the Dessert Bowl, which I got. I also decided to get a Rickaroon—a cookie sold at the counter. I brought my cookie over to a nice little table and sat down to wait for my bowl. It was crowded, and the server warned me that it might take 20 minutes to get my bowl out.
This might seem slow, but employees work hard to get bowls out as quickly as possible.
“We have a clock where you see the order and the time. I remember the first time we did a bowl in less than five minutes and everyone was really excited,” junior Jeanette Marino, a Vitality Bowl Employee, said.
It’s also social, and lots of employees attend Sequoia.
“Just in my ASB class, there are like five people who work there,” Maya Ebrahimpour, another junior and Vitality Bowl employee said.
Smalls are 14 oz. and cost around $7 to $8. Mediums are 20 oz. and cost around $9 to $11. Larges are 32 oz. and cost around $11-$13.
While I was waiting for my bowl to come out, I ripped open my cookie package. When I unwrapped the package, I was dismayed. It was not the most appetizing looking thing. However, when I finally forced myself to take the first bite, I could not stop. It was delicious and melted on my tongue. When the Bowl came out, It fulfilled my greatest expectations. The fruit tasted fresh, the granola was deliciously crunchy and the base was creamy and chocolatey.
“I feel like the flavors at Vitality bowl are more powerful than the flavors at Bare bowl,” Freshman Lexi Battaglini said.
Bare Bowls is far more out-of-the-way. It’s located on Emerson St. in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, not only is it less convenient to get to from Sequoia, but the parking situation is nearly as bad as it is at Vitality Bowls.
Menu Variety: ***
Bare bowls still has a wide range of bowl, cookie and smoothie options, but the range of bowls is not nearly as wide as that at Vitality bowls, and Bare Bowls does not sell sandwiches, soups or salads. I decided on the Rincon Bowl, a tropical seeming option.
Ambiance and Service: *****
I sat at a long counter and drank lemon-water from pretty mason jars.
“The atmosphere at Bare Bowl is more appealing than the atmosphere at Vitality Bowl,” Battaglini said. “It’s kind of more rustic.”
The service was very quick—my bowl came out in under five minutes.
Prices are just a little higher than they are at Vitality Bowls. Smalls are 14 oz. and cost $8. Regulars are 20 oz. and cost $12.
Battaglini said Vitality Bowls is more fairly priced. “the portions are bigger for about the same price.” She also added that the amount of fruit at vitality bowls is greater: “you get more fruit because the rim is wider.”
When I tasted my Rincon Bowl, I was disappointed. It tasted somewhat sour, and the fruit didn’t taste very fresh. However, the server immediately noticed, and made me a free new bowl—The Cardinal bowl, which was a little sweeter.
Though I enjoyed my Bare Bowl, it was not nearly as flavorful as my Vitality Bowl.
My advice: Go to Vitality Bowl.
Jeanette Marino sums it up best: “I love it—it’s heaven.”