SICK OF CORPORATE AMERICA BLENDING your fruit and vegetable drinks? Yes, I mean Robeks and Jamba Juice! If so, then check out the handful of mom-and-pop juicers in Los Angeles that mix up healthy and delectable libations without the annoying pressure of adding a boost of some new vitamin that is allegedly good for you.
Juices Fountain. This popular locale on Vine Street in Hollywood offers many frosty fruit and vegetable drinks, all made by 75-year-old Elizabeth Pena, a tiny yet feisty Latina who has operated this little shack since 1976. The eclectic interior, reminiscent of a jungle hut, is lined with head shots of famous and not-so-famous clients, along with a bunch of bananas that dangle above the kitchen door like Christmas mistletoe. The shop also sells sandwiches and salads. But don’t delay. Pena’s lease terminates later this month to make room for yet another project by the Community Redevelopment Agency (this time to build apartments and condos) to revitalize Hollywood. Pena plans to open another site. Stay tuned. 1616 Vine St., Hollywood, (323) 464-8986.
Ponchik Factory. This fast-paced rotisserie and takeout joint on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard serves up healthy fruit and vegetable drinks, fresh smoothies and an assortment of pizzas, salads and sandwiches. The carrot-and-OJ combo is refreshingly rockin’. 6601 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 467-3840.
Café Tropical. Dozens of multicolored papier-mâché lanterns with the names of regulars, pictures of Cuban hero Che Guevara and creepy wood carvings of animals are among the many attractions at this busy Cuban pastry shop and fresh-juice bar in Silver Lake. The chocolate macaroons are the size of baseballs and the cookies can easily double as frisbees. The biggest draw is the guava-and-cheese pie, but you can sidle up to the bar and enjoy a refreshing fruit juice accompanied by one of the shop’s gargantuan desserts or pastries that look like they have been given shots of growth hormones. Che would be proud! 2900 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 661-8391.
The Hungry Cat. For booze lovers, this swank spot is a great place to sit at the bar and guzzle alcohol-infused fresh-fruit drinks made by a fine assortment of hunky bartenders. The help also allow picky libators to mix and match their own poisonous combinations of alcohol and citrus delights that include kumquats, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons and limes — all squeezed fresh before your eyes. 1535 Vine St., Hollywood, (323) 462-2155.
The Garden Juice Bar. Located in the heart of downtown’s jewelry district, this hole-in-the-wall juice bar and Mexican restaurant would be a must-miss except for its cheap and refreshing fruity drinks. The buffet meats may warrant a stomach pumping but the refreshingly named Fruit Rainbow — a combination of watermelon, blackberries, strawberries, papaya, banana, pineapple and orange — is a definite crowd pleaser. ?322 W. Seventh St., downtown, (213) 489-3249.
Da Juice Bar. This busy bistro mixes up delicious fresh-juice combinations, from the standard orange and carrot to the more fancy watermelon and strawberry. For those who love to drink dangerously, a must-try is the veggie-juice cocktail, a zesty blend of spinach, parsley, celery, carrot, beet, bell pepper, lemon, tomato and garlic. The joint also offers dairy smoothies like the Chocolate Lover (nonfat milk, banana, strawberry, chocolate and nonfat yogurt), a wide array of vegetable sandwiches, salads and soups, and a handful of binders that detail the fat, cholesterol, protein and calorie content of its drinks. But do you really need to know how many calories are in the Reese’s Pieces smoothie? 305½ N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 243-6200.
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