Portage Pi in the Graduate

Portage Pi, a new juice bar and cafe in the Graduate Hotel Madison, serves a “juice du jour” with ingredients from the farmers’ market.

Madison juice lovers used to have only a few places to get ostensibly healthy, Crayola-colored beverages.

But in the past few months, a new crop of cafes and carts serving up liquid beets, cucumbers, kale and more have burst onto the scene. 

And there are more to come. The owners of Roast Public House have said they'll serve juices at Forage Kitchen, their new project on State Street. A casual restaurant called Goodness, set to go into The Hub at 437 N. Frances, is an Arizona-based chain that will offer fresh-pressed juices with beets, dandelion greens, celery, ginger and turmeric, among other things.

Green Mustache Juice Cart

The Green Mustache Juice Bar, owned by Mike and Adrienne Stahl, has set up at the Eastside Farmers’ Market, Mad City Bazaar on East Washington Street, the Goodman Community Center and the Monroe Street Farmers’ Market. Track their location on Facebook.

The Green Mustache Juice Bar

Cart, various locations

Juice to try: the Green Mustache, spinach, Granny Smith apple, kiwi, celery, lime and cucumber ($5.95)

Mike Stahl's cart, which debuted earlier this year, makes the kinds of juices smoothies that seem to singlehandedly repair all of the bad choices you made over the weekend. (Not that you make bad choices, we're just saying.)

With ingredients like beets, ginger, lemon and carrots, the focus here is on health, but not at the expense of taste. Stahl also makes several smoothies ($5.95) with things like bananas, blueberries, coconut water and honey. Added chia seeds, hemp and kale are so subtle, an unsuspecting child may not even notice. 

The Green Mustache migrates from the Mad City Bazaar on Saturdays to farmers' markets on Monroe Street and the east side. Follow the cart on Facebook.

Green Life Cafe

In June, Green Life Cafe took over the former Macha Teahouse spot on Monroe Street, serving salads, crepes, smoothies and juices.

Green Life Cafe

1934 Monroe St., 709-5177

Juice to try: Sassy Juice, watermelon, lemon and cayenne pepper ($4)

Earlier this year, Green Life Cafe took over the former Macha Teahouse & Gallery space on Monroe Street. 

Its full juice menu is still in the works, though general manager Allison Moeller hopes to debut it along with a new menu of crepes by the end of the month. In the meantime, the cafe has developed a signature juice: the Sassy Juice, made with watermelon, a bit of lemon and cayenne pepper for a jolt of heat.

Moeller said the drink isn't spicy, but the ingredients "complement each other really well."

Otherwise, seasoned juicers who know what they like can get any combination of the things Green Life already has on hand. Lately that includes beets, beet greens, citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime), kale, spinach and ginger. Juices cost $4-6 for 14 ounces to 20 ounces.

"People who are aware of juicing come in and know exactly what they want," Moeller said.

The cafe also has several signature smoothies ($5 small, $7 large). For those, like the earthy Beet Boxx with avocado, beet juice, coconut and banana, or the Kombucha Berry with NessAlla kombucha, Green Life freezes the fruit. 

"We freeze the fruit to make smooth, flavorful smoothie instead of having it turn to slush before you’re finished with it," Moeller said. 

Thornton Melon juice

The Thornton Melon juice at Portage Pi is a lightly sweet blend of honeydew melon, cucumber, ginger and mint.

Portage Pi

601 Langdon St., 257-4391

Juice to try: Thornton Melon, honeydew, cucumber, ginger, lemon and mint ($6)

Sometimes students need a little more than coffee to get going in the morning.

Portage Pi, a hip new juice bar and coffee shop located in The Graduate Madison hotel, bottles up the vitamins and serves them to go.

Of three blended juices on offer each day, the Bluto will be the sweetest, made with apple, pineapple, coconut and mint.

Slightly less sweet and very refreshing, the Thornton Melon blends honeydew melon with fresh cucumber, adding ginger, lemon and mint to round it out. It's light green in color and the cafe's most popular juice. 

Each week, chef Chris Cubberley goes to the farmers' market "to pick up whatever produce in in season," according to Hannah Morth, a Portage Pi barista.

Some of those ingredients go into hand pies. Others, like beets and kale, also show up in the "juice du jour," which changes every few days. 

The current offering tempers the sweet earthiness of red beets with orange juice, carrots and ginger.

"Having them in bottles makes it easy for people to take them on the go," North said. 

SuperCharge Foods

Jamaal Stricklin is the juice bar manager at SuperCharge Foods Wellness Center, Urban Farm and Juice Bar, 1902 E. Washington Ave.

SuperCharge Foods

1902 E. Washington Ave., 239-5012

Juice to try: the Marquette, kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, green apple, sunflower greens, parsley, lemon, lime, ginger ($5-7)

An urban farm for microgreens, an aspiring community space and a juice bar rolled up in one, SuperCharge Foods on East Washington Avenue uses its beverage program to reel in potential long term customers.

In addition to fruit smoothies, the juice bar serves several blends that combine vegetables, fruit and herbs, all named after Madison neighborhoods.

Early on, manager Jamaal Stricklin said the most popular juice at the bar was the Tenney, a vibrant bright orange juice made from orange, carrot, pineapple, lemon, ginger and turmeric. People can’t believe the color, he said.

SuperCharge is getting national press as well. A recipe for a green juice called the Marquette recently appeared in Men's Journal. It includes kale, spinach, cucumber, sunflower greens, celery and parsley, as well as citrus, ginger and half a green apple.

Some local spots have known the appeal of fresh juice for years.

The Willy Street Co-op's juice bar serves a substantial menu of juices like the Green Zinger ($7.49-7.99), as well as customizable juices and shots of wheatgrass that owners can pick up with their groceries. 

Gotham Bagels near the Square makes excellent spicy pineapple mint and cranberry lavender juices (both $3). 

Freshii green smoothie (copy)

Freshii, a national franchise, serves green juices and smoothies.

Several food carts, like Fresh Cool Drinks and Natural Juice, make juices and smoothies mainly with fruit. Freshii, a franchise with a new location on Gammon Place, offers "energy" and "detox" juices. 

And of course, since 2000, Jamba Juice's powerful blenders have held down a corner of State Street. (A sign that the juice trend is only growing, Milwaukee will soon get its third Jamba location.)

In response to the growing excitement about drinking vegetables, the national chain recently introduced a new line of cold pressed organic juices with flavors like "tropical greens" (apples, pineapples, "supergreens" and chia seeds), and "orange reviver" (orange, apple, beet and banana). 

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Since 2008, Lindsay Christians has been writing about fine arts and food for The Capital Times. She loves eating at the bar, going to the theater, fine wine and good stories. She lives on the east side with her husband, two cats and too many cookbooks.