First Taste: Harvest Juicery

While Los Angeles opens a new juice bar seemingly every other day, essentially fat-shaming every other city in America, Chicago has been lagging behind, instead opting to open new Brendan Sodikoff concepts that shorten lifespans with every bite of his burgers and barbecue. But with the recent opening of Harvest Juicery in the West Loop, Chicago welcomes its first cold-pressed juice bar and suddenly we feel a lot better about ourselves and the trajectory of our lives. Because there's nothing as re-assuring and life-affirming as a nice kale juice. Here's what you need to know about Chicago's first legit juice bar:

Harvest Juicery

The Backstory

Harvest Juicery originated as a delivery-only company as a means to bring wholesome, delicious juices in glass bottles to people's doorsteps a la modern day milkmen. The company was founded by folks who had spent years working in the restaurant and fitness industries, with juice fitting seamlessly into the center of that offbeat Venn diagram. In looking to concoct a way for people to do their bodies good while not sacrificing taste or resorting to depressing diet food or malnutritious "cleanses," Harvest Juicery set out mixing fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs into a melange of different juice creations, enlightening customers one home at a time until eventually they amassed enough business and demand to open a storefront on Lake Street.

The Space

It's no surprise that an all-natural juice bar is as spick and span as a dentist's office. You could probably perform surgery in here without a hitch. The space is mostly light and white, with tall windows begetting a room full of natural sunlight and warm and fuzzy feelings. It's a small-ish storefront, but ample enough for its concise purposes, with a juice bar front-and-center, a cooler in the back lined with juices (and greenery), some stools along the front window, and table seating in the middle of the room. It's as hip, chic, bright, and inviting as one would expect of a juice bar in the West Loop, with none of the body-shaming, intimidation factors that juice bars are sometimes stigmatized with.

Harvest Juicery green juice

The Juice

Now let's talk about the star of the show. Harvest Juicery does an incomparable job with its elegant, luscious, fruitful juices, each one absolutely brimming with more nutrients than you likely consume in a week otherwise. The beverages are all cold-pressed, a nutritionally optimal technique that doesn't use any heat or oxidation when compressing two to three pounds of produce into one juice portion. Juices come in glass bottles lined inside a cooler, each one with distinct benefits and nutrients. If you're looking for something energizing, spring for the carrot juice or the beet juice, the latter of which is a diversion from the standard earthy beet juice template with the inclusion of tarragon and turmeric. Thirsty for something sweeter? Watermelon juice or pear juice with thyme and pineapple should do the trick. The array of various green juices are also a surefire bet when looking for something filling, as a meal replacement or just a healthier option for a mid-afternoon snack. I like the green juice with kale, spinach, celery, and pineapple, but there's also a fennel juice that is particularly alluring. Harvest Juicery also offers smaller lemon and ginger shots, as well as decadent smoothies that taste salacious but are equally wholesome.

- Matt Kirouac