I am often asked for recommendations for places to eat near my work in Waterloo, and I don’t have to think long before giving my answer: Thrive Juice Bar. The place used to be quiet, the best kept secret in town. A place to sip your Coconut Cashew Medjool Date smoothie in peace. But now the word is out and the place is almost always packed, a line occasionally snaking out the door. Beyond having the most delicious food in town, the staff are friendly and the decor is modern and gorgeous — overall a very enjoyable place to eat.
Thrive started as a vegetarian gourmet health food restaurant with vegan options with the motto “fuel your body, fuel your mind”; last year they announced they would be exclusively vegan, though their menu options so accessible and delicious (no “weird hippie food” or fake meat here) our omnivore friends are just as addicted as my husband and I. You’ll hardly believe that food this tasty is good for you. They say they are the “freshest, cleanest and greenest establishment in town” and I would have to agree!
Here are some of the food we’ve enjoyed there lately:
Black Bean Chipotle and Avocado burger. Thrive’s veggie burger has been evolving since they opened in 2010 and they have all been delicious. It’s latest incarnation is a bit spicy, so if you like your burgers with a bit of a kick, you’re in luck. Also, if you like your burgers so generously humongous they can hardly fit in your mouth, you are also in luck. Tip: you can ask for your burger on bread instead of the big buns. It’s served with chips, salsa and hot peppers on the side.
The Big Green Sandwich. Avocado, sprouts, cucumbers and more with a delicious garlic aioli sauce. My husband’s favourite item on the menu.
The Thai Wrap. Sesame tempeh, sprouts, greens and a sweet chili sauce that goes perfectly. I’ve ordered this one at least ten times, it’s one of my favourites.
Falafel Wrap. This item is newer so I’ve only had it once but it was hearty and tasty. The sauce is an edamame hummus with tahini garlic dressing that’s very nice.
The Little Big Kids Meal. A grilled cheese made with Daiya and served with tortilla chips, sprouts, pickles and a green juice. My kids love it all, including the green juice.
Chocolate cupcakes. These were absolutely wonderful. Sweet but not too sugary. We got this one for my hubby’s birthday. The dessert options change regularly, so you’ll have to go in and see what the chef has prepared fresh that day.
Juices and Smoothies! These smoothies will ruin you for all other smoothie bars. I’ve tried so many smoothies from fancy juice bars and none are as good as Thrive’s. The Coconut Medjool Date smoothie is absolutely addictive and tastes like dessert. If you only try one item on the menu, this should be it. Others we love are the Kale Mojito, Chocolate Avocado Ganache and the Big Red Smoothie and the Big Purple smoothie. Thrive are affiliated with Brendan Brazier (the vegan endurance athlete who wrote the Thrive book series) and the VEGA products so in addition to being able to enhance your drinks with assorted supplements, you can buy VEGA products there too. Assorted hot beverages are also served.
Other items on the menu we recommend: the pad thai noodle salad, the Mediterranean rice bowl, the caesar sprout salad and the A.L.T. (avocado, lettuce and tempeh).
A couple of notes if you are planning a visit: their menu online is not up to date, you’ll have to pop in to see the current offerings which change seasonally (so don’t get your hopes up for pizza). While there is an item for kids on the menu, we don’t find it the best place to bring young children as there are no highchairs and the chairs are high and tippy; I find it best to leave the kids at home and enjoy a nice lunch out with grownups or get a takeout meal. There are gluten-free and raw options. The soup of the day is always excellent. Check their hours before you go, they are not open for a late dinner. The prices may be higher than you’d expect for lunch but portions are generous and ingredients are often organic and locally-sourced, well worth it for a high quality meal.
Thanks to Thrive and especially passionate owner Jonnie Karan, for showing Waterloo that vegan can easily be the healthiest and the most delicious food you can find!
Thrive Juice Bar is located in the Bauer Lofts at 191 King Street, Waterloo, Ontario.