Tuesday, April 16, 2024

I Go, Jugo: Everything you need to know about juicing and smoothies in Mexico City

I was desperate. After weeks of practically living in Mexico City cafes and restaurants, devouring countless guava rolls, cheese-filled tortillas, and meaty tacos, washing it all down with flat whites and sugary cocktails, my taste buds were delighted, but my brain felt sluggish and dull. My stomach groaned, bloated and heavy. Enough was enough. I needed a reset. I needed… green juice. 

I fumbled for my phone, plugging “jugo verde” into Google Maps. Relieved to see a nearby option with the reassuring word “Natural” in the restaurant name, I texted a friend to join me and hurried over, vowing to consume nothing but cold-pressed juices and nourishing smoothies for the next several days.

Mexico City has no shortage of refreshing juice-based drinks, but they may not be exactly what you’re expecting. (María José Martínez/Cuartoscuro)

“Jugo verde, por favor,” I rasped to the waiter, shoving the menu filled with temptations out of sight. I was determined to fully detox my overloaded system and exercise restraint for the foreseeable future.

As the waiter approached with my beautifully green and foamy beverage, I licked my lips in anticipation. I brought the drink to my mouth, envisioning glowing skin and the bloat receding from my belly with every sip. I closed my eyes and gulped… and nearly spit it out. 

Confused, I looked at my Venezuelan friend who had lived in Mexico for 5 years. I sloshed the chunky liquid in its glass. “What is this?” I asked. “A juice,” he answered, perplexed.

But…how?

Knowing the difference between jugos, licuados and smoothies is an essential piece of insider knowledge. (Sevenbuddhasmx/Instagram)

This green liquid was room temperature, very sweet, watered down, and filled with sloshy particles. This was not what I had expected. Yet this is the traditional juice (jugo) in Mexico, which – except for some pressed citrus juices – typically consists of fruits and vegetables blended with water.

Taking a second look at the menu multiplied the confusion. There were licuados, batidos, smoothies, malteadas, aguas frescas, jugo exprimido, jugo prensado, extractos, and more, leaving me breathless just thinking about it. 

Fear not, friends, here is an easy-to-reference glossary for understanding what’s what:

  • Jugos: Fruits or vegetables blended with water and lightly strained.
  • Licuados: Fruit-based drinks blended with yogurt, water, or milk, served cold or at room temperature.
  • Smoothies: Similar to licuados, but may include a wider range of health-focused ingredients like vegetables, nuts, seeds, or powders. Served cold or frozen.
  • Batidos: Milkshakes made with milk and flavored syrups or fruits.
  • Malteadas: Milkshakes with malted milk added for a unique flavor.
  • Aguas frescas: Fruit-blended waters, often sweetened with added sugar.
  • Jugo exprimido: Freshly squeezed juice from fruits or vegetables.
  • Jugo prensado: Cold-pressed juice extracted using a hydraulic press for maximum nutrient retention.
  • Extractos: Concentrated extracts or shots for efficient consumption of specific nutrients or flavors.
Caution: Asking for juice may not net you actual juice. The results, like these “aguas frescas” may be just as delicious though. (Margarito Pérez Retana/Cuartoscuro)

Finding the juicy gems

For those of us accustomed to cities where cold-pressed juice, salad bars, and superfood smoothies abound, finding healthy food options like the ones we’re used to can be slightly more challenging in Mexico. Particularly for individuals like yours truly, who had spent the last few years living in Los Angeles – the bougie, health-obsessed land of Pressed, Kreation and Erewhon – juices and smoothies had become a dietary staple, quickly nourishing, cleansing, and resetting the body. 

Yet despite the abundance of beautiful juice stands and blended drinks in Mexico City (and I encourage you to make use of these delightful little outposts), sometimes it’s rather nice to chug a crisp, veggie-infused cold-pressed liquid or sip on a post-workout smoothie with the perfect superfood additions tailored to your body’s needs. While the health-conscious consumer movement seems to be steadily making its way to Mexico, navigating the options to find healthy and tasty drinks designed to invigorate the body and mind can still be challenging. Placebo effect or not, sometimes you just need that green juice fix.

Fortunately, there are options. Delicious ones, for when you need everything from a detox from going too hard, to a post-workout smoothie. Here are 4 spots around CDMX to satisfy your juice and smoothie fix. 

As Happy as Larry – Condesa, Juarez, Roma Norte, Santa Fe 

All hail As Happy As Larry, the new king of the capital’s juicing scene. (As Happy As Larry)

Covering the bases in four different areas of the city, “As Happy as Larry” is inspired by the English version of Mexico’s expression “feliz como una lombriz” or “happy as a worm”. While this writer is unfamiliar with the range of a worm’s emotional depth, the juices and smoothies certainly hit the spot. Checking off the juice bar necessities, the spot offers signature recipes for smoothies, juices, and cold-pressed shots, focusing on ingredients meant to strengthen the immune system through superfood combinations. It offers the standard cold-pressed juice selection including an array of green juices, beet and carrot combos, and several juices organized by their functional benefits (Detox C, Immunity). As Happy as Larry also offers “cleanse packs”, ranging from 1-day resets to 18-day programs. 

Básico – Polanco & Roma

 

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As its name suggests, this minimalist spot serves up healthy basics in a comfortable, modern space. It has all of the essential pressed juice rockstars, including celery-based green juice (Verde Que Te Quiero), a carrot-based cutie cleverly named Sweet Carrotline, and a beet-forward juice mix (Let it Beet). The menu also features single-ingredient pressed juices, nutrient-rich shots, and smoothies with innovative add-ins like svetol (green coffee bean extract), hyaluronic acid, novel vitamin combos, and protein powder. As a bonus, the Roma location doubles as a great workspace for sipping your healthy beverages while nose-deep in emails.

Mora Mora – Colima, Santa Fe, Polanco, Condesa, Roma, Jardines del Pedregal, Interlomas, Insurgentes

From the TV screen to the Mexico City health scene, Mora Mora is the capital’s latest healthy spot. (Jugos Locos/Unsplash)

Featured on Mexico’s version of Shark Tank in 2022, Mora Mora is a plant-based, healthy, and sustainable chain taking Mexico City by storm. With locations spanning juice bars and grocery markets for healthy goods, Mora Mora makes it easy to get your fix of high-quality smoothies, juices, and wellness shots. Menu highlights include the nutrient-packed Green Warrior juice, brimming with celery, cucumber, citrus, leafy greens, herbs, wheatgrass, ginger, and a kick of cayenne. The El Azul smoothie is another standout, blending blackberry almond milk, banana, pear, maca, hemp, vegan protein, and brilliant blue spirulina. Mora Mora also bottles its cold-pressed juices for grabbing on the go. For those looking for a full-body reboot, Mora Mora offers 1-day detox kits meant to purify and help eliminate toxins. With so many creative and clean plant-based options, Mora Mora is leading the charge for healthy eating in Mexico City.

Ojo de Agua – Practically in every neighborhood in CDMX

 

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This trusted Mexican chain, located across many cities, offers a reliable array of smoothies and licuados, and basic, single-ingredient juices (jugos extractos). Bear in mind, while the “super jugos”, “jugos funcionales”, and “jugos sencillos” on the menu sound intriguing, these are the traditional fruit and veggie blends with water. Where Ojo de Agua truly excels is with its smoothie selection, featuring several fancy superfood options. The chain has recently stepped up its game by incorporating novel ingredients like functional mushrooms (lion’s mane, reishi) and spirulina at several locations. For a trusted healthy option with a superfood smoothie twist, Ojo de Agua delivers.

Honorable mentions include Espiritu Sano (Condesa), Serena Wellness Lab (Lomas), Amamba (Roma Norte), Brek & Shake (Polanco, Santa Fe), and Seven Buddhas (Condesa).

Mapping the scene 

As Mexico City’s healthy food scene continues to flourish, this guide aims to highlight some of the top spots for finding revitalizing, nutrient-packed juices and smoothies. However, new destinations are constantly emerging across the capital. For Mexico News Daily readers, here’s a Google Maps list with the curated juice and smoothie spots gathered so far, which will be updated as more gems are discovered. 

Of course, this is just a sampling of CDMX’s ever-evolving juice and smoothie scene. Did we miss your go-to oasis for a cold-pressed green juice or superfood-loaded smoothie? Let us know your favorite must-visit juice bars and smoothie joints in the comments below!

Monica Belot is a writer, researcher, strategist and adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she teaches in the Strategic Design & Management Program. Splitting her time between NYC and Mexico City, where she resides with her naughty silver labrador puppy Atlas, Monica writes about topics spanning everything from the human experience to travel and design research. Follow her varied scribbles on Medium at https://medium.com/@monicabelot.

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