Showdown: Nekter vs. Juice Kaboose

The Guardian visits two similarly themed juice bars, samples their best offerings and decides which will win a culinary duel for the last man standing. This week’s juice bars:

Nekter
834 Kline St. La Jolla, CA 92037
Mon. through Fri.: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat. & Sun.: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

NEKTER:  ACAI AND PITAYA BOWLS
NEKTER: ACAI AND PITAYA BOWLS

It might have been our large group of eight people walking through the doors of the comparatively small residential-esque cottage, or maybe it was just the general demeanor of juice bar workers, but suffice it to say, our group was not greeted with a warm welcome. And though the menu is rather extensive, it fails to provide information on what the “acai” and “pitaya” bowls actually are. Unfortunately, the staff isn’t too knowledgeable about what the distinction between the two is either. Their vague response that “they’re just different colors” didn’t help provide detail on the flavor of each fruit, so after much deliberation, the Pitaya Bowl ($6.75) was the bowl of choice, mainly because it was pretty. Luckily, the pretty, pink fruit bowl ended up being the right decision because it was a delicious blend of pitaya (dragon fruit), pineapple, coconut butter and coconut water that’s topped with banana, raw coconut flakes and hemp-seed granola. The store worker was partly right: The acai and pitaya bowls are very different in color, but also different in taste. The Acai Bowl ($6.75) has a creamier and slightly tart taste which focuses more on the berry flavor versus the Pitaya, which is sweeter and has a tropical tang. Both bowls have fresh, sliced bananas on top, with the smooth, blended texture nicely complementing the granola. Though the acai and pitaya bowls are a bit pricey, they are big enough to share with friends.

Juice Kaboose
7556 Fay Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037
Mon. through Sat.: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sun.: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

JUICE CABOOSE: FRESH SMOOTHIES AND PITAYA BOWL
JUICE CABOOSE: FRESH SMOOTHIES AND PITAYA BOWL

Though Juice Kaboose is much smaller than Nekter, the big group didn’t seem to bother the staff; they were far more welcoming than Nekter’s. Our group ordered the same items, the Pitaya Bowl ($7) and an Acai Bowl ($6). Unlike the white bowls at Nekter, the bowls at Juice Kaboose are served in 32 oz. clear cups so you can see the layers of fruit and the difference in color between the pitaya and acai. The taste and size of each was fairly similar to the bowls at Nekter; the only difference is that Juice Kaboose puts mangoes, strawberries, blueberries and bananas on top, which they buy daily. The variety of freshly chopped fruit adds a refreshing quality to the semi-frozen texture of the acai and pitaya. In addition to the fresh fruit, the hemp granola is sprinkled generously on top and provides a nice crunch that helps bring the whole dish together with the perfect combination of crunch, smoothness and freshness. Keeping customers informed about what goes into the food seems to be more important, since Juice Kaboose is somewhat of an institution in La Jolla and was the first place in the area to sell acai and pitaya bowls. The cashier was able to provide more details on acai and pitaya than “they’re just different colors,” as she explained that they both have different health benefits and that each fruit is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and magnesium.

Winner: Juice Kaboose
Juice Kaboose. Juice Kaboose in part pioneered the juicing/fruit bowl trend in La Jolla, making it a popular destination among locals for a reason. The overall care and quality that goes into their juices and bowls is top-notch. While the price point is fairly equal between the two juice bars, the overall service was far superior at Juice Kaboose. Also, the atmosphere at Juice Kaboose is slightly less pretentious, which is nice, considering that not every passerby is an acai or pitaya connoisseur.