(Originally published in The Buffalo News Gusto on 6/5/18: http://buffalonews.com/2018/06/05/squeeze-juicery-is-a-healthy-light-option-for-summer-eating/)
A bright, sunny afternoon is the kind that begs for something cool and fresh, like a fruit smoothie at Squeeze Juicery.
While glancing around for a place to sit at the Elmwood Avenue location (there also is a spot in Williamsville) and, wanting to bask in the sun with a healthy lunch, I zero in on one of the two coveted green sets of outside tables.
On a busier day like this one, people filter in and out, anxiously waiting for an outside table to open. A woman sits at one chatting on the phone, finishing a salad and drinking a green juice. A couple occupies the other. As they leave, I move in quick. With warm sun rays and a bright magenta pitaya bowl illuminated by the sun, it’s worth the wait.
Inside, Squeeze Juicery is hip and fresh. Mismatched wood and lime green paint cover the walls. Touches of greenery is mixed in throughout the shop, from succulents lining shelves behind the counter to the small plants and wildflowers on the tables.
There’s counter-style seating. Hip-hop hits play moderately loudly in the background alongside the noise of blenders at work. Portraits of pop culture legends like The Beatles adorn the walls and soft orb lighting and large storefront windows light the place.
The setting makes you want to eat something light, granted you don’t have much of a choice. Healthy commands the menu of salads, smoothies, bowls and cold-pressed juices. Squeeze prides itself on ingredients that are organic (and local when it can), and cold-pressed juicing, meaning no harmful pasteurization methods are used.
A cooler is filled with pre-made grab-and-go salads loaded with toppings ($8.73 to $10.50 with meat added); green, citrus, fruit, nut milk or multiple combination juices ($7 to $9); and unique hummus flavors like avocado and cilantro jalapeno ($5.95). Wraps ($8.50), aptly named after rap songs, are served exclusively at the Elmwood location.
At the counter, customers choose from a menu of creative smoothies ($6.95 to $7.95), smoothie bowls ($8.95) and juice shots ($3.50), named after classic songs. Extras can be added in for an additional charge (50 cents to $1.50 each), including various proteins, wheatgrass, matcha and vitamins.
Smoothies are made from a plethora of fruit and vegetable combinations. Lucy in the Chai with Diamonds is a sweeter smoothie, a healthy and hearty alternative to a chai latte. It’s made with chai, banana, maple syrup, ginger, flax seed and coconut milk.
Twist and Shout is a flavorful treat of peanut butter, raspberries, blueberries, apple, cinnamon, flax, Greek yogurt and almond milk. Waterfalls, a fruit juice, sounds particularly refreshing, composed of watermelon, apple, ginger, mint and lemon.
Craving something a bit more filling, I opt for a pitaya (another word for dragonfruit) bowl. Bowls are essentially large smoothie parfaits, with toppings like granola and fresh fruit. They can be made with matcha, acai or pitaya.
The Barbie Girl bowl of blended pitaya, apple juice, raspberry and mango, topped with granola, strawberry, banana and toasted coconut is so vibrant and healthy you almost feel bad digging a spoon into its perfectness to eat it. The cold, sweet blend of fruits combined with crunchy granola and coconut was undoubtedly delicious and worth $8.95.
Leaving to stroll away down Elmwood with my leftover bowl to-go, I see a couple beeline outside to take my former spot. Highly coveted.
770 Elmwood Ave. (882-2541) and 5419 Main St., Williamsville (565-1000)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes.
Gluten-free and dairy-free options: Yes, many of the items are exclusively made of fruit and vegetables, plus the smoothies and bowls can be altered since they’re made on the spot.