The first time I went to Ola Juice Bar, it was almost by accident – I stumbled upon it. I met the owner, Nissa Wecks, and was impressed that their menu was entirely plant-based: no meat or animal products, no dairy, no eggs. Because I’m intolerant to dairy and eggs, I was pretty excited about this. I tried their build-your-own oatmeal bowl and was blown away at how fresh and filling everything was. Thus began my love affair with Ola.
When you walk in, you’ll find a small restaurant, brightly lit (part natural light, part happy and friendly staff). There are a few tables and chairs along the window, bar-style seating facing the open kitchen and a small outdoor seating area for sunny days. On your left, you’ll see a handful of snacks – Vega protein bars, Alternative Baking Company cookies and some ginger candies. On your right, you’ll find a cooler stocked with healthy bottled beverages (no sodas here!), Radiantly Raw chocolates, and if you’re lucky, chocolate peanut butter protein bites (made in-house and one of my all-time favorite treats). The menu contains juices, smoothies, salads and rice or quinoa bowls, wraps (try the fruit burrito!), veggie and fruit plates and oatmeal. There’s definitely something for everyone!
For my review, Dave and I each ordered a build-your-own rice bowl and a smoothie. On the bed of fluffy brown rice, I ordered micro greens, tomatoes, black beans, black olives, avocado and spicy cilantro dressing. It was very fresh and flavorful, made right in front of me. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and juicy, the avocado was perfectly fresh and creamy, and the dressing was a little sweet and tangy with just a hint of cilantro. The combination of the dressing and olives was amazing.
I ordered the orange mango smoothie after I’d finished my bowl. Such a great, citrus flavor with a tangy, sweet tropical taste. The tumeric adds just a tiny bit of spice, which complements the blend beautifully. Refreshing and sweet without being too sweet. Definitely none of the sticky-sweet flavor you’re used to from standard smoothie shops.
Dave’s rice bowl came out with greens, tomatoes, black beans, cucumber and bell peppers with the shiitake sesame dressing. He said the flavor was amazing – the dressing had a great, unique taste that complemented the other flavors. The greens were crisp and the bowl was very filling (which is always a concern for a big eater, especially in a place with no meat on the menu).
As far as healthy restaurants go, Ola couldn’t get much healthier. Their produce is fresh, seasonal, and mostly organic. If you’ve got food allergies, you’re in luck: they’ve only got one item that contains gluten, they don’t have any eggs or dairy in the joint, and if you’ve got a nut allergy, you’re always safe with their freshly-made juice blends (their juicer never comes in contact with nuts) and attentive, helpful staff.
Ola has stayed at the top of my list because of its variety, freshness, and accommodating menu for those of us with dietary restrictions. Even if you’re used to seeing meat on a menu, don’t let a plant-based menu fool you. Going to Ola means you’ll leave with a full belly and a smile, thanks to its friendly staff, and you’ll always feel good about the food you’re eating.