Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Healthy, Tasty, UnBEETable?

We usually try to stick to local, homegrown restaurants when dining out.  But we were recently invited out to try a couple of the new menu options at Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened their first location in Tallahassee in 1997.  Since then, they have grown and expanded to open stores in over 30 states across the country.  They serve a variety of wraps, sandwiches, and salads.  And they are really popular because of their smoothies, made with fresh ingredients right when you order.  We were excited to see what their new Noodle Bowls and Superfood Smoothies were all about.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe - Noodle Bowl

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – Noodle Bowl

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has 16 locations in the Jacksonville area.  For this visit, I stopped by the location at Southside Boulevard near Old Baymeadows Road.  It was right around lunch time and it was busy.  Really, really busy.  There were at least six people working behind the counter and it still felt frantic and hectic in there.  I waited in line for about 20 minutes.  When I finally got up to the counter, I ordered their new UnBEETable Berry smoothie.  I also wanted to try one of their new Noodle Bowls.  Of the two options (Spicy Mongolian Steak or Ginger Miso Chicken), the chicken sounded better so I went with that one.  More waiting.  At this point, I had run out of time to sit down and eat, so when my order was ready, I had to take it to go.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe - UnBEETable

Tropical Smoothie Cafe – UnBEETable

The Ginger Miso Chicken Noodle Bowl was really good.  It was spinach, layered with warm noodles, grilled chicken, and veggies.  It was then drizzled with a Ginger Miso dressing.  The noodles were cooked well, the chicken was juicy and flavorful, and all the ingredients worked well together.  The carrots, edamame, and cucumber added a nice, fresh crunch.  The dressing had a really nice flavor to it and I liked that they didn’t put too much of the dressing on it.  It kept the noodle bowl from being soggy and heavy.  All in all, it was a really tasty, healthy lunch.

The UnBEETable Berry smoothie was not as great.  In fact, it was just not that good at all.  On their menu it is touted as a “Superfood Smoothie” and while I don’t doubt that the beets make for a healthy addition, the flavors of all the ingredients (beets, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and banana) combined just did not work together.  The texture was also too chunky and their were huge bits of ice and fruit left unblended.  I’m not sure if this is how they typically make this smoothie or if it was just due to them rushing to make it because they were so busy at this particular time.  But it was not good and left a salty, earthy, metallic sort of taste in my mouth that bugged me for the rest of the day.  And this is coming from a smoothie lover.  I start most days with a homemade fruit and veggie-filled green smoothie.  I sometimes add beet juice to my smoothies and still manage to make them taste good.  But I would not order the UnBEETable Berry smoothie again.  Tropical Smoothie Cafe has plenty of other fantastic smoothie options on their menu.  Skip the UnBEETable Berry smoothie and go with something else…anything else…instead.

For this review we welcome a member of our own JRR family:  Rhonda Kovar is a former call center manager turned stay-at-home mom.  She grew up in the heart of North Carolina and moved to Florida after getting hitched in 2002.  She is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University and a lover of all things crafty, musical, or edible.  Rhonda loves finding new and delicious ways to turn her two tiny picky eaters into future foodies.

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