A juice bar with smoothies so good, you'll want 'em all winter long

Stacy Brooks

Stacy Brooks

Ever heard of pitaya? How about hemp granola? Mushroom coffee?

While some of the ingredients on its plant-based menu might be unfamiliar, Vibe Organic Juice Bar has the approachable atmosphere of a neighborhood coffee shop—plus staffers who are happy to explain what exactly “blue majik” is, and why one would want it in a smoothie.

A somewhat recent addition to St. Louis Park, Vibe is a welcome suburban option for anyone who wants convenient, healthy food, dietary preferences aside. The rainbow-hued, handwritten chalkboard menu takes up most of the front wall. There are raw, cold-pressed juices, made in small batches to reduce waste, and for a few bucks you can try a nutrient-packed shot that’s intended to be a quick boost to your system. Smoothies are made with unsweetened nut milks and without added sugar, so they’re actually a healthy way to get your daily servings of produce.

There’s also food: blended fruit bowls topped with fresh fruit and granola, salads with housemade plant-based dressings, vegetable-packed rice bowls, gluten-free pancakes, a veggie burger, and gluten-free wraps. A raw pizza features a crispy crust made from dehydrated tomato, zucchini, onion, and apples, and it’s topped with hummus, fresh spinach, and olive oil.

“We’re happy to add ingredients or take things out,” says founder and owner Amber Thielen. “The menu is customizable, and we try to accommodate allergies.”

Running a juice bar is a second career for Thielen, who spent 20 years in the corporate world. “It was killing my soul, to be honest,” she says of her work in the medical device industry.

Stacy Brooks

Stacy Brooks

Looking for a getaway and a diet reset, Thielen did a weeklong spiritual retreat in northern California that included a juice cleanse. Afterwards, “I felt so good and had a whole new lease on life,” she says. Back at home in Minnesota, the avid home cook bought a juicer and committed to an organic, plant-based lifestyle.

The problem was the time commitment—it takes a lot of effort to prep juice at home, and there wasn’t a convenient option for buying healthy juices in the 'burbs. Inspired by juice bars she visited in Hawaii, California, Florida, and New York, Thielen realized that she wanted to bring something similar to Minnesota. She considered franchising, but since she wanted her juice bar to be completely organic, it made more sense to strike off on her own. Classes and advice from resource center WomenVenture helped Thielen turn her dream into reality, and Vibe Organic Juice Bar opened in March.

Nearly the entire menu is plant-based, with the exception of a handful of items that contain honey or collagen. The staff is well-versed in which items are vegan, and many staffers are vegan themselves. “It’s important for the planet,” says Thielen of plant-based diets. “Even if everyone could cut out 20 percent of the meat in their diets—the planet would be a much better place.”

She recommends first-time visitors try the Vikings smoothie, a brilliant purple blend of pineapple, pitaya (a tropical fruit), banana, coconut milk, and blue majik, a nutrient-dense powder made from algae. We gave it a taste and were surprised to discover how much a smoothie could hit the spot on a chilly December day—it was wholesome and nourishing in a way that brought to mind a comforting bowl of soup.

“I encourage people who haven’t given plant-based food a thought to come in and try our menu,” says Thielen. “Everything you taste on the menu is delicious—my kid has tasted it and likes it.”

Vibe Organic Juice Bar
4720 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park