The newest addition to our town's food truck scene is the Santa Fe Juice Bar, a cheerfully painted white and hot-pink trailer offering a beachy, breezy menu of fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies. An envelope thanking the business for its donations to the Santa Fe Dreamer's Project is taped up next to an "Ecobrick.it" sticker from Upcycle Santa Fe.
"They pick up my plastics to be made into building materials, or sometimes I drop them off," owner Abel Martinez explains of his business' recycling practices. He pulls at his plastic glove and gestures to the stacks of to-go cups and spoons. "People don't think about it, but restaurants generate a lot of waste. We're doing our best to cut down and help out."
It's a sweet sentiment, and a natural one given that Martinez is committed to living a low-impact lifestyle that allows him the freedom to spend as much time outside as possible. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Martinez grew up in the laid-back beach town of Sayulita, a small tourist hotspot north of Puerto Vallarta and known to be a low-key surfer hangout. Between teaching surfing lessons and hosting private tours of the beach, he worked a management position in the longtime local institution, the Sayulita Café, and later owned a small coffee shop called Aroma.
There he met his future wife, Santa Fean Kimberly Lopez, and together they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he continued his culinary pursuits at the popular farm-to-table restaurant Adele's Nashville. He'd later sign on to help open celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman's restaurant Bajo Sexto Taco, located inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and named for a stringed instrument commonly used by mariachi bands. It was here that Martinez developed a flair for using local, seasonal ingredients while Lopez worked to become a nurse practitioner. A few years later the couple moved to Lopez' hometown of Santa Fe, where a combined passion for both the culinary and health worlds bore fruit—their juice bar trailer opened last June.
Using the fresh fruit stands common to the streets of Sayulita as inspiration, Santa Fe Juice Bar strives to offer seasonal and colorful concoctions, ranging from the bright orange-tinged Rise and Shine ($7.95), a strongly citrus-driven mix of orange, turmeric, lemon, carrot, ginger and honey, to the Viva La Greens ($7.95), a green lemonade of apple, cucumber, spinach and kale that is decidedly veggie-forward and not at all sweet. The real treat, though, are the smoothie bowls for $8.95, which can also come in traditional smoothie form for $7.50. The bowl is a delicious delivery system for blended fresh fruits, as well as more substantial nutritious additions, such as granola, shreds of coconut, seed blends and chia pudding—a mix of chia suspended in coconut milk, designed to effectively unlock its superfood-esque properties.
I got the El Super Bueno, a mélange of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, banana, pineapple, mango, kale, spinach and almond milk. It came topped with the aforementioned garnishes, and also goji berries, granola, honey, sliced strawberries, figs and kiwis. It tasted fresh and fruity, but the hidden greens prevent it from becoming overly sweet, even with honey drizzled on top. The granola and coconut provided satisfying texture and crunch, and Martinez supplied the breezy conversation while I sat on the bright pink bench outside the trailer's window. He says he designed his bowls for those who enjoy an active lifestyle but still want to eat healthy.
"I used to surf every day," he says. "Nowadays, I love waking up really early and hiking in the mountains, although a lot of the time I'm here now. Many of my customers, they're the same way."
Martinez says he'll change up his winter hours only slightly to 8:30 am, an hour later than usual, and that he's worried the demand for smoothies and fresh juice won't be as strong in the off-season.
"If we could find a warehouse space or a market where we could be inside, that might be better," he says. "In Guadalajara they have these mercados, these marketplaces that are full of vendors who sell everything, meats and fish and street food and fresh fruits. Something like that would be perfect for us in Santa Fe."
Previously located at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Guadalupe Street, the truck is temporarily closed for relocation and will reopen Sept. 10 at the corner of Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail. Martinez plans to make even stronger motions away from using plastics by offering the bowls and smoothies in glass containers. Every little bit helps, and hopefully Santa Fe Juice Bar will continue to provide a healthy, refreshing respite from the demands of modern urban living, in more ways than one.
Santa Fe Juice Bar
Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail
7:30 am-2 pm Monday-Saturday