Food Feuds: Rush Bowls vs. Nekter Juice Bar


Collegian | Katrina Clasen

(Graphic Illustration by Katrina Clasen | The Collegian)

Hattie Williams and Madison Strasheim

Renee Ziel

Greetings, fellow Food Feuds foodies! This week, I take on one of mankind’s best and most compact forms of nutrition: smoothie bowls.

Admittedly, I was unable to get two local places this time since local smoothie bowls are few and far between, but I’ve been wanting to cover these delicious packages of fruit and vitamins and all that good stuff for a long time. Thus, I present Rush Bowls and Nekter Juice Bar in this week’s cuisine boxing ring.


Rush Bowls

Rush Bowls has many options available for both bowls and regular smoothies, including seasonal flavors, specialized local bowls and a “bow wow” bowl for your best furry pals.

I got a Summit bowl, which features acai, strawberry and cherry with their classic honey and granola toppers. I used oat milk and added bananas.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Rush Bowls because they keep it simple, plus the granola and honey add the perfect crunch and the perfect touch of sweetness on top of your favorite fruit combinations.

I’ve been to both of these places now at least twice, and my ultimate judgment is the same.”

Throughout the life of this column, I’ve also realized that a sense of cohesiveness in food is really important, and Rush Bowls succeeds in this area because of their simplicity. You’ll see later how a smoothie bowl can get too complicated. With a smoothie, which is already usually packed with flavor, you have to be mindful of what goes on top of it (that is, if your goal isn’t to create a grisly mishmash of flavors just to get your nutrients in).

As another note, this place has a lively atmosphere with upbeat music and interesting art that reflects the refreshing color found on their menu. They also know their local college consumer base, boasting a “hangover cure” bowl.

Nekter Juice Bar

Nekter Juice Bar, as with other smoothie-focused eateries, has an array of options to choose from, though not nearly as vast as Rush Bowls. Interestingly, they also say, “Nekter started the acai bowl trend — we did it first and we do it best.”

Well, I’m here to challenge that extremely bold and smug statement.

Firstly, the consensus is that acai bowls originate in 1980s Brazil with the Gracie family. The acai bowl “trend” is credited with starting in the early 2000s with the arrival of social media. Nekter Juice Bar, on the other hand, was founded in 2010 by white Americans.

This is not to say I have nothing positive to say about the restaurant or food itself. The generalization needed to be addressed, but all things considered, it’s still a great smoothie bowl. My main complaint is there’s too much there.


I got an acai banana berry bowl, which features acai, strawberry, blueberry, banana, pineapple and Nekter-made cashew milk and is topped with hempseed granola, strawberries, blueberries and bananas.

Now, I love fruit. It’s pretty much my go-to snack, so you can imagine how smoothie bowls and anything related are literally my heaven. This was by no means a bad bowl — it’s really hard to mess up blended fruit topped with more fruit. However, the flavors feel discordant due to the sheer amount of stuff. Rush Bowls, by comparison, only has a few less and makes it work just a touch better.

I’ve been to both of these places now at least twice, and my ultimate judgment is the same. Not to mention that the little addition of honey on top, even if it is a bit more sugar, completes the Rush Bowls experience just enough because who doesn’t love honey?

And honestly, Nekter’s website statement turns me off. I’ve seen numerous restaurants say they do it best fine, it’s PR-social-media-marketing-advertising bullshit to bring consumers in. But to incorrectly say you did it first when acai bowls have been around for at least a decade before your company’s conception? There’s something about that that rubs me the wrong way.

Therefore, Rush Bowls takes the smoothie bowl crown easily. They have a wider array, they keep it sweet and uncomplicated and they know their market well. Plus, their current seasonal creation, the pumpkin spice bowl, tastes like pumpkin pie, so stop by West Campus and pick up something from this food feuds champion.

Reach Renee Ziel at or on Twitter @reneeziel.