First look: vegan Meraki Juice Kitchen in downtown West Palm Beach

Bright bite: avocado toast at Meraki Juice Kitchen. (Liz Balmaseda/Palm Beach Post)
Bright bite: avocado toast at Meraki Juice Kitchen. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

At first glance, Meraki Juice Kitchen feels like a grab-and-go place. Freshly packaged salads chill in a cooler, as do pressed juices.

The downtown West Palm Beach spot is stylish yet casual, perfect for take-out smoothie orders. But despite its limited menu and space, chef Christopher Slawson’s organic plant-based café also serves as an urban oasis for those who’d like to settle in and enjoy a healthy bite, as I did on a recent Sunday afternoon.

The avocado toast, topped with sunflower sprouts and sprinkled with salt and pepper, made for a delicious mid-afternoon snack ($5.95). I enjoyed it between sips of Meraki’s bottled “Abundance” juice (pressed cucumber, romaine, chard, kale, ginger, pear and lime, $9.50).

The counter attendant offered me a special daily bonus, a 2-ounce bottle of kicky ginger tonic (normally $3.50), made of freshly pressed lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper. Strong stuff, this tonic. Even a nano sip smacked the afternoon haze out of me.

Kicky stuff: freshly pressed ginger-cayenne tonic. (Liz Balmaseda/Palm Beach Post)
Kicky stuff: freshly pressed ginger-cayenne tonic. (Liz Balmaseda/Palm Beach Post)

Perched on Fern Street, Meraki is the sister eatery of Christopher’s Kitchen, Slawson’s popular plant-based restaurant located on the PGA Boulevard dining corridor in Palm Beach Gardens. He opened the place on Aug. 16 with his uncle, Richard Slawson. Like Christopher’s Kitchen, it offers a selection of organic, plant-based desserts, smoothies, salads and a daily soup. Unlike the more established restaurant, which serves a large menu at lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, the new spot focuses on daytime-type dishes.

Still, there’s plenty here to keep a fan of Slawson’s fresh, creative cuisine coming back. And when you savor your meal at one of the café tables, you can look out the window into what is presently part of a construction site and envision the green space it will become. Once the current construction is finished, Meraki’s quaint patio dining area is sure to be one of the loveliest spots for a downtown bite.

Meraki Juice Kitchen: 328 Fern St., West Palm Beach; 561-508-6640; MerakiJuiceKitchen.com

 

Celis Produce: Tiny produce shop celebrates big on first birthday

Juice man: Alex Celis at Celis Produce, the shop he co-owns with his brothers. (Eddie Beiler/ Oak Media)
Juice man: Alex Celis at Celis Produce, the shop he co-owns with his brothers. (Eddie Beiler/ Oak Media)

An outsider may not detect the crisscross of paths at Celis Produce, the tiny shop owned and operated by brothers Felipe, Alex and Camilo Celis. But this is more than a place where one can stop in for a juice or salad components – it’s a place that’s helping to build a community of creative, indie souls in West Palm Beach.

As the shop celebrates its first birthday Friday, it does so as it does its business – organically and with a focus on collaboration with other local, independent enterprises.

All day Friday, the shop will be offering snacks from local vendors and 10 percent off everything in the store.

The shop favors organic products and an organic business style. (Eddie Beiler/ Oak Media)
The shop favors organic products and an organic business style. (Eddie Beiler/ Oak Media)

“Big thank you to all of our customers and friends for the year-long support,” the brothers posted on the shop’s Facebook page. “It’s been nothing short of amazing.”

The shop is open until 7 p.m. Friday night.

Celis Produce: 2814 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach; 561-410-5735; Celis-Produce.com

READ: HOW ONE TINY SHOP GIVES WINGS TO CITY’S HIP, INDIE SPIRIT.