logoEat - Drink - Protest

A culture blog by Lauren Girardin, a San Francisco-based city girl who eats out and kicks about.

April 12, 2003

Juicey Lucy's . . . . . . . . . . restaurant review

703 Columbus Street at Filbert, San Francisco

- Open 7 days a week, seasonal hours (generally 11:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.)
- Cash only
- All organic, vegetarian, mostly vegan (limited use of bee-products or ghee) and raw

Organic innovation makes Juicey Lucy's a healthy scene.

Stepping into the fancifully decorated Juicey Lucy's café is a relief and a shock. It's both marvelous to escape the congested, hyper-Italian Columbus street, as well as impressive to discover a pocket of spirituality, sincerity, and organic vitality in the heart of touristy North Beach. A half-dozen tables are graced by flowers in crafty vases, with hand-painted seats scattered about for casual seating. Bright purple walls, a long Buddhist mural, and various knick-knacks create a sense of mindful joyfulness.

Owner Lisa Bach wastes no time in asking if customers if they've ever been to her six-year old juice and food bar, and explaining the menu to first-timers. At San Francisco's original 100 percent organic café, priority is placed on high quality, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. Out-of-season produce won't be served at Juicey Lucy's.

Nowhere in the menu is Lisa's care more apparent than in the superb juices and smoothies. The Pink Perk ($5.75) is a potent blend of apple and lemon juice, spicy with ginger, accented by mint, and given an attractive Mary Kay-hue by beet. Or, get a willy-nilly but tastefully combined Poetry With a Beet ($6.75), a juice of carrot, apple, beet, kale, parsley, broccoli, celery, red chard, lemon, garlic, and ginger.

Salads and bagel sandwiches make up the bulk of the chalkboard menu, with a hot soup of the day (small $4.25, large $5.25), nori rolls, and steamed greens offered on the extended menu. A sprouted hummus bagel ($4.75, $5.75 with avocado), available with either plain or chile chipolte hummus, was a veritable garden of red onion, red chard, sprouts, and shredded carrots and beet. Though appreciative of the abundant vegetables, the sandwich fell short as the enticing chile chipolte hummus came as only a scant schmear.

A wiser choice than the bagel sandwiches is one of the bountiful salads. The Octopus' Garden ($7.25) starts with a base of a blue corn or spicy herb tortilla, not of the thin wrap-style, but a handmade, thick cake. Toppings include another sadly inconspicuous bit of sprouted hummus and better proportioned baked tofu, sesame seeds, olive oil, and vegetables including sprouts, slivered garlic, celery, shredded beets, and chard. Lisa offered to add on her new cilantro serrano sauce, which gave a nice zing to an already enjoyable dish.

Another gratifying choice from the extended menu is the Rock and Raw ($5.75), a slaw of carrot and beet with raisins, sunflower and sesame seeds, garlic, pea sprouts, and celery with a cayenne kick to the flax oil dressing. Though missing the advertised shitake mushrooms, the mound of salad was a brilliantly textured and dental-floss-eager mouthful.

Vegan and organic breads, desserts, and even butter-free baklava are available at the counter, though it wouldn't be peculiar to be satisfied with a last slurp of fresh juice instead.

Clearly, Juicey Lucy's has succeeded as an all-organic locus because of the strength, love, and commitment of its creator. Lisa Bach's creativity should continue to flourish as she plans to take Juicey Lucy's into a second location at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this spring.