Today we welcome Jamba Juice to the flog. Everybody say “Hey, Jamba!”
Jamba Juice, as many of you already know, is a smoothie specialty restaurant. I have to admit that it’s a food sector with which I’m not all that familiar. Or at least I wasn’t until I spent some time with the folks who operate the Jamba Juice stores in Central Florida. It’s clear I’ve been missing out on some pretty tasty — and healthful — options.
Which is not to say that every smoothie operator in town is offering healthful foodstuffs. In fact, knowing that some jack up their shakes with sugars and additives is what prevented me from becoming a fan.
So what impressed me about the folks at Jamba Juice was their dedication to using “simple and honest” ingredients. That simple honesty is also an identifiable characteristic of the operation, from the clean, crisp, vibrant decor of the stores to the friendly, no BS folks who work there.
And, not for nothing, their smoothies are pretty darned tasty. And also not for nothing, not everything they serve is a smoothie, either. One of my favorite items was the Acai Primo, with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, soymilk and acai juice. It had a vibrantly fresh flavor that wasn’t too sweet, which I appreciated.
The Pitaya Island Bowl had blended fruit under unblended fruit. The smoothie section had pineapples, strawberries. blueberries, bananas and the pitaya fruit of the name. Pitaya, which comes from a cactus, is also known as dragon fruit. That’s what gave the smoothie its distinctive ruby color, but it was the whole fruit and a scattering of granola, chia seeds and shredded coconut that added texture as well as flavor.
I also liked the Citrus Kick, which had fresh orange juice, apple juice, pineapples and fresh ginger all blended into something drinkable. Given the name, I thought a shot of rum would give it an extra kick, but that’s just me.
And not everything has to taste like it’s good for you (even though it might be). The Chocolate Moo’d Smoothie will satisfy a need for something a bit sweeter and a lot more chocolatey. And another thing that I like about this place is that it doesn’t hide anything. All of the nutritional information is right there for you to see.
Jamba Juice is relatively new to the area but it has been around for a long time. It was established in California in 1990 under the name Juice Club. In 1995, to distinguish it from other juicers and smoothie vendors, the name was changed from Juice Club to Jamba Juice, using the African word jama for celebration.
So jama for Jamba Juice, and welcome!
I visited the Jamba Juice at the Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista, but there are also locations at Florida Mall (in the recently renovated food hall), the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips on Restaurant Row, and a new one at the Plaza on University. Check the Jamba Juice website for specific addresses and hours.