Verde Organic Café and Juice's space on San Mateo Road is a cool, clean and almost clinical affair, with high ceilings, large windows, minimal decorations and an unfussy line of tables matched with brightly colored chairs along the dining area window. The major pop of color in the room is a cold case lined with rainbow-colored rows of juices; they evoke something spa-like or medicinal in their parallel lines of bright orange, beet red and earthy green vials with matching white labels. This makes sense, considering the origin point of the company has always been personal wellness.
Founder Kelly Egolf recuperated from jaw surgery by cold-pressing her own juice when she required a liquid diet that had previously made it difficult for her to ingest all the nutrients she needed. Soon she began sharing the results of her efforts with family, friends and colleagues. Eventually, the business version of Verde was born in 2014, offering cold-pressed juices that are unpasteurized, unfiltered and additive-free.
Cold-pressing involves gently pressing fruits and vegetables without using the metal blades of a traditional juicer, which can heat up its contents and negatively impact any nutritional value. Instead, the juice is shredded and pressed by hydraulic pump, which preserves more of the good stuff present in the raw material and extends the shelf life of the juice for up to five days. Verde's signature juice line winds up heartier than the average juice and is an intriguing mix of traditional ingredients like kale, carrot and beet backed by other ingredients that usually come in smoothie form, such as banana, flaxseed and almond milk.
The complete range of offerings are staggering, from small shots of tonics at 2 ounces ($3.95), such as the Allergy, a mix of greens like watercress, parsley, fennel and asparagus spiked with astragalus and local bee pollen. There are simpler juices as well, like the Pink Apple, a concoction of apple juice, hibiscus and lemon, priced at $3.75 for 8 ounces. And then there are the signature juices, a mix of roughly 2 pounds' worth of fruits, vegetables and nuts whittled down to 16 ounces of juice served in a glass container for $9—although you can also get it in plastic for $8.50 (but you can return the glass jars for a little bit off your next purchase). Signature juices also come in 12-ounce containers ($6.75), and select recipes are available in smaller formats.
I treated myself to a 12-ounce Verde Almond Chai, which is a mix of house-made almond milk, kale, black tea, banana, wheatgrass, local honey and house-made chai spices. It was much earthier than I expected but not vegetal, with the tea and the spices doing the heavy lifting against the wheatgrass and kale. Despite the addition of honey and banana, it was not at all sweet and the texture was appealingly thicker than the average vegetable juice. I found it surprisingly filling and substantial for a tea-based juice drink.
Verde now also offers a food menu with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ordered a Juice Burger ($11.95) and the Spicy Sunrise ($9). The latter is a juice based in carrot, beet and orange with apple, ginger, lemon, flax and pumpkin seeds and a little kick of cayenne pepper. The carrot, ginger and cayenne flavors dominated the drink in a pleasant way, and it was easy to suck down thanks to the bright, refreshing and crisp taste; the kind of thing to drink in the morning to start your day.
While I enjoyed the juices, the food left something to be desired. The concept of the burger was cool enough—the roughage left over from the juices make up the base, combined with sweet potatoes, black beans and seeds. It also comes with a side of spicy beet ketchup and cashew mustard cream, along with either roasted sweet potatoes or creamy sunflower slaw. But the burger itself was cold and rather nondescript, especially given all the interesting flavors and textures of the juices. The sides, however, were excellent additions. I also had a roots juice spritzer (a carrot and beet-based juice diluted with sparkling water, $1.95), which proved a cheap way to get a little hit of juice and added a nice pop to the meal.
There's a certain appealing new-agey symmetry to a juice bar sharing a building with Studio Nia Santa Fe and being nextdoor to YogaSource, as it offers a healthy pick-me-up for the thirsty post-workout cravings. The sum total of Verde is a bright and healthy experience, and although the food is a welcome addition, it could improve. Besides, the real star of the show is the juice.
Midtown (juice and café): 851 W San Mateo Road, 780-5151
8 am-8:30 pm Monday-Friday; 9 am-3 pm Saturday; closed Sunday
Downtown (juice and snacks only): 105 E Marcy St., 983-8147
8:30 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday; 10 am-4 pm Saturday; closed Sunday