Açaí bowls, the newest millennial/gen-z fad, have spread into the school’s vicinity, not only in the form of Bahia bowls by the local Burger King and HTeaO, but now with the newly opened Playa bowls in the Village at Stone Oak, just across the street from the classic Chili’s and BJ’s restaurants.
But what is an açaí bowl? you may ask. Açaí bowls are blended açaí berries, a fruit born from palm trees, topped with fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and bananas, among other tropical ingredients.
“I don’t know, I guess [because] they’re healthier, they’re just good,” sophomore Chloe Jordan said. “They are somewhat healthy, always super colorful, and are loaded with fresh fruit. The elements of the bowl blend really well together, from the crunchy granola, to the smooth honey, to the sweet fruit base. My personal favorites are pitaya bowls and the tidal wave bowls, which have a base of spirulina, which is a tropical-tasting blue algae.”
Judging from just the outside of the restaurant, Playa bowls may not seem like anything special, but that changes once you go inside. The restaurant vibes with personality, from the music, to the menus, to the surfboard shaped tables, a theme which makes sense when you take into account the term “playa” means beach in Spanish.
Each item at Playa bowls costs around $11, which is certainly expensive if you consider it a dessert, though that is not what açaí bowls are. Playa bowls at least, are large enough to be considered a meal-replacement. In other words, don’t plan on eating one right before dinner as I did.
“I got the Coco Craze and loved it!” junior Angie Vasquez said. “I’d never had a smoothie bowl before, but coconut is one of my favourite flavours, so I decided to give it a try. I definitely don’t regret my choice. Everything went really well together flavor-wise: chocolate with bananas and strawberries will always work well together, as well as texture-wise, with the smoothness of the coconut base and crunchiness of the granola.”
Aside from just açaí-based bowls, Playa bowls also serves bowls with pitaya, kale or “green” bowls, coconut, banana, and chia seed bases. They even sell smoothies! I personally went with my favorite fruit, banana, as the base in the form of the “Olas bowl,” which came topped with granola, banana slices, blueberries, coconut flakes, chia seeds and almond butter.
The flavors all mix together well to create a blend of sweet but not too sour flavors. When eating this dish, I personally was able to identify every ingredient in each bite, from the creamy bananas and sour blueberries, to the texture of the chia seeds and slightly salty almond butter.
“I wouldn’t say that açaí bowls are my favourite dessert, but they are definitely a delicious treat and a pretty healthy alternative to ice cream,” Vasquez said. “Not to mention that besides the great flavor, the portions are also a bit big, so you do tend to get a full afterwards.”
Even while eating, I was able to enjoy the sound of trendy 2000s and 2010s pop music, a genre which, despite the fact I’m not a huge fan, admittedly fit the atmosphere and was still enjoyable as I ate with my friends.
“Not gonna lie, the commitment to aesthetic was also brilliant,” Vasquez said. “The surfboard table? Brilliant. The mermaid/pirate symbols to differentiate bathrooms? Fantastic. The beach murals on the wall and great playlist just made the whole experience really cool. Would definitely recommend.”
Overall, I would definitely recommend Playa bowls as a dessert/lunch hybrid restaurant, or even as just a guilty pleasure trip. I certainly look forward to trying a variety of bowls with the many blended bases the restaurant has to offer.