Anyone who knows me knows that I take acai very seriously. While Nekter is conveniently located across the street, I often find myself settling for mediocre acai because I don’t have time to wait in a two-hour Banzai Bowl line. So when I stumbled across Bowl of Heaven on Yelp, I was a bit hesitant to try it. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find a piece of acai heaven at a reasonable distance from campus.
Bowl of Heaven serves acai bowls, smoothies and juices in Rancho Santa Margarita, La Verne, and as of this month, Newport Beach. Located off Bison and McArthur, in the same complex as Starbucks and Pita Jungle, it is in a prime location, about a ten-minute drive from campus.
The acai selections are extensive, including bowls from acai and pitaya, to pineapple and kale. Their menu distinguishes what ingredients you can have blended and what toppings you can expect on top of the mix. They offer a regular size that is perfect for a quick snack between classes, and a large for a filling breakfast.
One of the great things about acai is how it accommodates almost all dietary restrictions. There are limited excuses not to go; most of the acai bowls do not contain gluten, soy or dairy and is a healthy alternative to the otherwise junk food we usually turn to. The natural sweetness from the honey and fruit is a great, guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth. While it is a bit pricey, you get what you pay for. I always think of it as an investment in my health.
For my first visit, I decided to go with a classic acai bowl — the Sea Sider. The blend has an acai base and also includes blueberries, pineapple, strawberries, vanilla almond milk, bananas and Bowl of Heaven’s signature juice. The bowl was ready within ten minutes, which was an extremely reasonable wait time. The texture was similar to that of a smoothie, not too icy but flavorful enough that you wouldn’t mind eating it without the toppings (should that horrible time come). Under a ring of strawberries, the crunch of granola paired with the sweetness of honey and coconut was the perfect topping for the bowl.
Even though I was more than satisfied with this bowl, my second time around I opted for a more non-traditional bowl — the Sunset. Instead of an acai base, the blend has pineapple, mango, strawberries, coconut milk and their signature juice. The topping, similar to the Sea Sider, had coconut, granola, honey, strawberries and kiwi. The fruit toppings were nothing too spectacular, tasting less sweet than the bowls themselves. The blend was a peach color, as opposed to your traditional acai purple, and had a very tropical taste, one reminiscent of summer vacations in Hawai’i and fresh fruit smoothies.
If you haven’t yet hopped onto the acai train, Bowl of Heaven also offers an assortment of fresh juices and smoothies.
The shop itself has a very light and airy feeling to it. The walls are adorned with pictures of super fruits and brief descriptions of their health benefits. With a primarily green color scheme, you can feel the freshness of their products. Barstools line the walls inside the store, and two tables outside make seating a bit of an issue.
To truly appreciate acai, I recommend eating it right after it is made. The frozen blend doesn’t have the same slushy texture after ten minutes in the car back to campus.
Even though Orange County has an abundance of places serving acai bowls, Bowl of Heaven is up and coming, stays true to its name, and is giving some veteran acai businesses a run for their money.