Capri Sun? Been there, sipped that. Now introduce your kid to Chicago’s fresh-squeezed juice and smoothie scene. (Psst. . . it’s a great way to sneak in veggies!) We hopped around to town to find juice and smoothie bars and cafes that focus on the all-natural stuff and have family-friendly atmospheres to boot. Grab a tall, healthy glass at one of these sunny spots, or take it to go and mosey through a park.
Real Good Stuff Co.
Why it deserves a squeeze: The locally owned spot will be your new favorite place to pop in for a sandwich and cold-pressed juice, and treat the kids to a special smoothie. They also get points for convenience with their online ordering option.
Real Good Juice Co. now has several locations in the city and you can find them in Whole Foods, as well. They offer 10-ounce cold-pressed juices which boast three pounds of organic locally-sourced produce per bottle and come with witty names like Juicille Ball and Punky Juice-Ster. For a snack try a smoothie bowl, a toast or sandwich or the NoYoFroYo.
Locations in Lincoln Park, Old Town, Lakeview, River North & Southport; Online: realgoodstuffco.com
Why it deserves a squeeze: A must-visit for weekend brunch, this Greektown staple has fresh squeezes on the daily, good for sipping on the spot or on the go.
You may know this neighborhood fave for its Greek-inflected breakfast and brunch menu. We’re talking scramblers, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, French toast, pancakes and waffles, plus vegan and gluten-free options (hello, polenta pancakes). But you’d be remiss in missing the juice bar, a pivotal portion of Meli’s menu. Beyond your standard OJ and apple juice (which are both available for traditionalists), Meli ventures into hearty meal-in-a-glass territory with juice blends such as celery-apple-carrot, mango-orange-kiwi-honey and wheatgrass-pineapple-apple-pear-lemon.
301 S. Halsted St., Greektown; Online: melicafe.com
Why it deserves a squeeze: This LA-based franchise has been blending juices and smoothies for twenty years so they know how to create a tasty and healthy treat.
Juice and smoothie lovers have flocked here for years for favorites like the G-Snap with ginger, carrot and orange and the ABC with apple, beet and carrot juices. They also have a good selection of smoothies, smoothie bowls and toasts.
2936 Showplace Dr., Naperville & 3704 Caton Farm Rd., Plainfield; Online: robeks.com
Why it deserves a squeeze: You can get your juice with a side of vegan pizza.
Founded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign and named after owner Alexandra Curatolo’s pet French Bulldog, Belli’s brings healthy, local food to Pilsen. When you walk in, you’re greeted by a colorful menu with concoctions featuring fresh local and organic leafy greens for a daily dose of essential vitamins. For the more adventurous, there is even Kombucha on tap.
1307 W. 18th St., Pilsen; Online: bellischicago.com
Left Coast Food and Juice
Why it deserves a squeeze: famed Chicago Chef, Paul Kahan, developed the menu.
Start your morning with a Mornin’ Buzz smoothie for you (espresso, cacao, peanut butter, macca powder, banana and dates) and cold-pressed juice or smoothie for your little sidekick. If you’re looking for something more substantial to go with your juice or smoothie, Left Coast has a complete menu divided into First Wave (breakfast), Greens, Grains, Wraps, and, of course, Kiddos.
2878 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park & 151 N. Franklin, Loop; Online: leftcoastfood.com
— Jen Peterson & Matt Kirouac