A couple years ago, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, there’s really no place that sells only fresh juices and smoothies in GR.” It seemed like I saw them on every corner in big cities like Chicago or Los Angeles. Now it seems like it’s all the craze here in the mitten.
Sip Organic Juice Bar, originally opened in Cascade, now has a second store in Eastown, right next to Wolfgang’s. They have a full menu of smoothies and juices, all with song-title names, like “Super Bass,” and “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright.” Malamiah Juice Bar is located in the Downtown Market, which opened last year. You’ll find names like “Remember Your Roots,” and “Southern Greens,” all play on common themes in African American history.
Despite the challenge of finding a parking spot in the morning, Sip has an open layout, complete with tables and chairs to enjoy while you “sip” your drink. Because of the airy feel, you can see in to the kitchen, the staff blending up your smoothie, and all of the fresh ingredients. Malamiah Juice Bar has more of a central location in the downtown area. It’s a much more crowded space in the market and you may have to search for a seat if you want to sit and stay awhile. There’s a large parking lot outside the market, which can get a little busy at peak hours, however, I’ve never had a difficult time finding a spot.
Now, on to the drinks. Both venues have a large menu, but each with a different flair. Sip and Malamiah both offer a large selection of super foods, such as chia seeds, spirulina, cacao powder, or hemp seeds. Many of the smoothies at Sip already include these additions, but at Malamiah, you’ll have to request these add-ins. There is a selection of fruit and veggie juices, fruit smoothies, and green smoothies at both places, in addition to small health shots, such as wheatgrass. One thing that I like about Malamiach Juice Bar is that you can create your own juice or smoothie by selecting up to five ingredients.
These two health joints have even begun to expand their menus to include more on-the-go and food items. Sip has a cooler of raw food items, kombucha, waters, and bottled juices, stocked day-to-day, however, the selection will vary. You can also order an acai smoothie bowl, which is blended fruits and acai puree, sprinkled with a variety of toppings. Some of these toppings include Sip’s homemade Jenergy Bars, which you can purchase in the store. These are one of my favorite food bars, not to mention they are all-natural and organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free. They can now be found at many local stores, such as Kava House, Harvest Health, and Global Infusion. Malamiah also offers an acai smoothie bowl and bottled juices, in addition to offering fruit-flavored water.
The huge trends going on right now in the health world are cleanses. Sip offers a three or five-day raw food detox, which includes a green smoothie for breakfast, a protein smoothie at lunch, and a raw soup and crackers for dinner. You may be asking what raw really means. Don’t worry, it just means that the food has not been heated above 115 degrees. The argument is that the food retains more nutrition without being heated and cooked. Malamiah Juice Bar offers a variety of juice cleanses, including a 24-hour cleanse, a 3-day cleanse, and a 3-day partial cleanse where you consume juice throughout the day and eat a sensible meal at dinner.
All of this may sound great, but what about the price? Smoothies and juices at Sip range from $7.50 to $9.75, with sizes ranging from 16-20oz. Drinks at Malamiah will run from $5-7, for a 12-16oz. Acai bowls at Sip are more expensive, coming in at $9.95, whereas at Malamiah you’ll be paying $8. Detox prices range depending on your selection and can be found on their websites,
Oh, and did I mention that both Sip and Malamiah have apps for your phone? The apps are complete with the store hours, menu, and the ability to place your order right form your phone and have it ready for pick-up. The apps also keep track of your purchases to help you earn coupons or free drinks. Just have them scan your phone at the register.
I personally like both places for different reasons. They are both local businesses, which I try to support as much as I can. Malamiah is a little closer for me than Sip, especially if I want to browse the Downtown Market. I really enjoy some of the flavor combinations at Sip and their food items (especially the Jenergy Bar), but that being said, I usually walk away spending more money, when you include the slightly higher prices and the extra goodies I end up buying. You really can’t go wrong with either place. The apps are a great addition, especially if you purchase regularly. I don’t frequent them often, but when I do, I’m always happy with what I get.
Even though Grand Rapids isn’t as large as New York or Chicago, we have all the juice, smoothies, and detoxes we need right here. I would definitely recommend stopping by both places and trying some of the unique combinations of drinks and food items that both have to offer. While there are pros and cons to the debate on whether juicing or raw diets are really good for you, adding some extra fruits, veggies, and greens to your diet will never hurt, nor will supporting local businesses.