The laid-back California vibe at Soul Bowlz in Fairhope is intentional. The little cafe was inspired by similar spots that owner Laurie McElroy visited with her husband on annual trips to the surfer enclaves of California. The pair own Blonde John’s Board Shop, a surf and skate emporium in Gulf Shores, so it all makes perfect sense. What started as a small cafe upstairs in the surf shop quickly expanded to a stand-alone location in downtown Fairhope. The bright and colorful cafe serves up refreshing, tropical superfruit bowls and smoothies that leave you feeling like you’re on a beach vacation.
The menu was initially built around açaí bowls, a sorbet made from pureed frozen palmberries from Brazil topped with sliced fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and other nutrient-dense toppings. Despite açaí’s superfruit status, McElroy first fell in love with the delicious taste and natural burst of energy. The major health benefits were just an added bonus.
Açaí is now used worldwide in drinks, desserts and energy bars, and it’s praised for its powerful mix of antioxidants, omegas, electrolytes, fiber and vitamins, with a flavor described as a mix of dark chocolate and blackberries. Three other superfruit sorbet bases were added to the menu when the Fairhope location opened its doors last year, including acerola, a citrusy tropical fruit that contains 30 times the vitamin C of an orange. Pitaya follows suit with an earthy kiwi flavor and tons of phytonutrients, and graviola rounds out the menu with a creamy white flesh and a flavor like the lovechild of strawberry and pineapple. The last three fruits are less known in south Alabama, so McElroy has been working to introduce her customers to their health benefits and delicious flavors.
The bowls are surprisingly filling but don’t leave you feeling heavy — perfect for the dog days of a hot August. There are eight bowls to choose from, but you can customize to your heart’s content. Health nuts out there will get excited about the optional bee pollen, spirulina and goji berry toppings. Those who prefer fruit with an indulgent bend will love the drizzled Nutella, white chocolate chips or peanut butter. Most have a delightful crunch from organic hemp granola. The hemp-and-flaxseed mix boosts nutrition with 600 mg of omega-3 and 1800 mg of omega-6 fatty acids per serving.
The cafe packages superfruit bowls to go midmorning for busy executives needing an energy boost. Local yoga classes and Fit Mama Boot Camps arrive en masse after workouts for a refuel. The lunch crowd is a mix of ages and backgrounds, and the afterschool rush sees a gaggle of giggling highschoolers on their cell phones. Everyone leaves feeling full, refreshed and reenergized.
Purchase a keepsake coconut shell bowl for the ultimate Soul Bowlz experience, and bring it with you each visit for a dollar off your purchase. It reduces plastic packaging, true, but mostly it adds to the tropical experience. These guilt-free frozen treats are just the remedy for the steamy end of summer. There might not be a longboard in sight, but we still think this place is swell.
On the Menu
Creamy peanut butter is blended with the açaí sorbet base and coconut milk to make a superfruit bowl that will keep you full and going strong. It’s topped with omega-rich hemp and flax seed granola, a drizzle of honey, and perfectly arranged strawberries and bananas. Go ahead and order yourself a large.
(Pictured above right, second from bottom) Who can resist a hot pink bowl of delicious tropical fruits? Pitaya, otherwise known as pink dragonfruit, blends into a sorbet with a kiwi-like flavor and an outrageous color. This bowl is topped with hemp granola, strawberry, kiwi, banana and just a touch of honey.
(Pictured above left) Soul Bowlz has created the most enjoyable way to eat your veggies. Spinach and kale are blended with frozen açaí, mango, pineapple, banana and coconut milk for a smooth and tasty burst of all-natural energy and vitamins. The strawberry topper is a cute addition.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Get a protein boost and power up with vanilla Greek yogurt, hemp granola, your choice of two fruit toppings and a delicious hint of honey. Breakfast is now an all-day treat.
Soul Bowlz • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. M – S, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Su
68 North Bancroft Street, Fairhope. 210-6999. Average entree price: $6