The Smooth Acai Bowl at I Love Juice Bar (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)
The Smooth Acai Bowl at I Love Juice Bar (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

Battle of the Bowls: The Nashville acai bowl face-off you didn’t know you needed

Buy or bye? These Nashville acai bowl locations vie for the business of tourists and locals.

April 1, 2021

From avocado toast to apple cider vinegar, Gen Z is no stranger to healthy food trends. With their fruit-packed and antioxidant rich qualities, it’s no surprise that acai bowls are one of them. 

However, as college students, 12 dollars on an average smoothie bowl might seem like money better spent elsewhere when met with a lackluster frozen mess. Whether it’s in the Gulch, 12th South or Hillsboro, look no further for the review that will ensure you get the bowl that’s worth your buck in Music City. 

 

E + ROSE Wellness Cafe 

1201 Demonbreun Street

My order: The Pro Bowl 

The Pro Bowl at E+ROSE Wellness Cafe (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

From the presentation to the flavor components, this bowl bursts with the character and originality that would be expected of a Gulch-located spot. It screams LA vegan, which was more than exciting for this southern California girl. 

The bowl is a mountain of acai blended with blueberries and banana, with just the right amount of each to ensure that the blend is sweet but doesn’t feel like a mouthful of straight sugar. Protein powder is always a welcome addition to my acai bowls and smoothies, and E + ROSE does it right, perfectly incorporating the powder without the grainy texture or chalky protein taste. On to the toppings: you know that granola that every acai place in existence uses? E + ROSE is NOT on that bandwagon. Theirs is simple, yet different, accentuating the other toppings of bananas, cinnamon, sliced almonds and honey. The blend was smooth but not icy—achieving that perfect half-melty texture. They also mix the peanut butter, granola and almonds throughout the acai, giving each bite the perfect juxtaposition of salty-yet-sweet taste and crunchy-yet-smooth texture.

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 75 percent : 25 percent

Tier: A

 

Franklin Juice Co. 

2301 12th Avenue South 

My order: Bombom Bowl

The Bombom Bowl at Franklin Juice Co. in 12 South (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

Located in Nashville’s eclectic 12th South, Franklin Juice Co. is probably my most frequented Instagram acai account (what’s yours?). Although the pictures all flaunt the same perfectly placed toppings and artsy logo-design that I received with my order, looks can be deceiving. Upon digging in, I was met with a hollow center filled with granola—not the tasty acai that I hoped to be enjoying. Nonetheless, the blend combines acai, strawberries and bananas for a fruity, tangy taste and an icy texture. Topped with strawberries and status-quo granola, the addition of cacao nibs and almond slices added crunch and earthiness to this bowl.

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 50:50

Tier: B

 

Clean Juice 

3904 Hillsboro Pike

My order: The Berry Bowl

The Berry Bowl at Clean Juice (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

Sadly, acai is not the star of this bowl. In a blend of acai, banana, almond milk and honey, the bowl is a bit watery and flavorless. This bowl also lacked structure— basically falling to soup before I could finish. If you’re a fan of thinner, smoothie-consistency bowls, this place might be for you. But, if you’re like me and want some ~thickness~, maybe skip this one. 

What the bowl lacked in consistency was compensated for by their generous toppings. Clean Juice added almost a whole banana AND goji berries—an elite topping choice that brings crunchy texture and a tart taste to the topping portfolio. Again, the granola wasn’t anything special. No complaints but certainly no brownie points for the unoriginal choice. 

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 80:20

Tier: C

 

Frutta Bowls

2424 Elliston Place

My order: Frutta Bowl

The Frutta Bowl at Fruttta Bowls on Elliston Pl. (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

Acai bowls just taste better when they’re included on the card. Frutta Bowls, although not ranking high on my Nashville acai bowl list, definitely makes a good case if you’re looking to be economical. That being said, despite frequenting Frutta Bowls many times before, I’m just not impressed. Most notably, the acai-to-toppings ratio is too low. The acai blend is your typical acai-banana-strawberry blend, but made sweet (too sweet if you ask me) by the thick layer of nutella and peanut butter on top. Personally, I like to feel like a health queen when I eat an acai bowl, and the overly-sweetened blend makes it taste more like a dessert than a “fruit bowl” as the name might suggest. Again, it’s topped with the classic acai bowl granola, but also has a generous amount of kiwi, pineapple and strawberries. It’s creamy, yet crunchy and reminds me a bit of a fruity peanut butter cup. 

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 65:35

Tier: C

 

Grain and Berry

1806 20th Avenue South

My order: Mango Passion Bowl

The Mango Passion Bowl at the newly-opened Grain and Berry underneath the Moxy hotel in Hillsboro (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

Topped with a load of mango, pineapple and coconut, this acai bowl from Hillsboro’s newest spot gives me all the tropical vibes. The base is sweet yet flavorful, just like an acai sorbet. Grain and Berry adds a slightly sweeter touch to the classic acai bowl granola, with a rich honey and oats flavor. The texture is icy, with a melty consistency towards the bottom of the bowl. Although the taste and freshness of the toppings make it a strong competitor for Urban Juicer’s bowls, its acai-to-granola ratio was too low, with the granola taking up half the square footage of the plastic bowl. 

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 50:50

Tier: B

 

I Love Juice Bar 

222 11th Ave South

My order: Smooth Acai Bowl

The Smooth Acai Bowl at I Love Juice Bar (Hustler Staff/Jaime Svinth)

I Love Juice Bar’s acai bowl definitely has me feeling some type of way. The blend was sweet from the acai and slightly tangy from the strawberries, making for just the right amount of sweetness and flavor. Like E + ROSE, I Love Juice bar forges their own path for granola. It’s clumpy with a honey and oat flavor that reminisces of honey nut cheerios. Although I felt slightly betrayed by the lack of toppings, the addition of the hemp hearts was a welcomed aesthetic touch. It’s more on the smoothie consistency side, but the chewiness of the honey, the crunch from the granola clusters and the softness of the fruit made for a mouth-watering texture in every bite. I’ll definitely be back.

 

Acai-to-topping ratio: 85:15

Tier: A

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