The search for Sydney’s best acai is surprisingly difficult (more difficult than typing ‘ç’, which I have neglected to do in my spelling of açai in this article). Beware those who say they don’t like acai, or who’ve tried it once and didn’t like it. My taste-search revealed there was a HUGE difference between the taste and quality of acai bowls between establishments. There were a few standouts and the rest fell far below.
‘+’ means: I’d go back. ++ means the best.
The winners are: +Fruitologist+, +Harry’s Bondi+, +Happy as Larry+, ++Flower Child++ , ++D.Bowls++ and (my clear favourite)++Bare Naked Bowls++.
In general, the rule with specific food groups is: go somewhere that purports to specialise. For instance, get your fried chicken from a fried chicken place rather than a restaurant selling other dishes. So get your acai from an acai place? This hypothesis was found to not always true.
What I look for: The blend must have a thick texture like ice cream (thickness coming not from ice but from substance i.e fruit). Banana in the blend is essential. The toppings must have at least nuts and/or toasted granola (granola is way better with nuts), coconut flakes and fruit toppings. The more the better. Extras like hemp seeds, buckinis, goji berries, bee pollen etc are major bonuses. Granola must be house made or taste fresh with a range of whole ingredients.
What I dislike: Too watery or too sweet. Fruit juice in the blend.
Acai Brothers 85 Glenayr Ave, Bondi
Ordered: Choc ‘treat yo self’ bowl($14.90)with acai, banana, raw treats, cacao, cacao nibs, coconut yoghurt, choc sauce (I swapped for peanut butter +$1), choc buckini. My choice of fruits were banana and strawberry.
Texture: Smooth, didn’t melt too easily. Tasted faithful to acai, but was a little too sweet.
Toppings: The toppings are super rich here. I prefer granola toppings but there are so many options on the menu, you can’t complain.
++Bare Naked Bowls++ Shop 2, 41 Market Place, Manly
Depressingly, service here is so bad it is worth commenting on. Go in a good mood with plenty of time on your hands. Also, I have found the Manly store to produce better bowls than the Bronte one, despite having the same menu.
Ordered: I’ve had every bowl on their menu several times. The best are the paleo bowl and the power bowl. They also do lovely vegan donuts. Heads up: the naked bowl is an anomaly and tastes gross. The mango bombe is a lovely smoothie bowl if you’re not looking for acai.
Blend: Organic Acai, Banana, Strawberry, Organic Natural Peanut Butter, Activated Almond Milk
Topping: Organic Activated Cacao Buckinis, Banana, Blueberry, Organic Hemp Seeds, Raw Cacao Nibs, Bush Honey
Blend: Double Organic Acai Berry, Avocado, Raspberry, Blueberry, Raw Coconut Water
Topping: Raw Almonds, Organic Coconut Chips, Activated Caramelised Buckinis, Goji Berry, Raw Cacao Nibs
Texture: The best of all. It’s pure with no added nasties, low sugar. I usually ask them to use macadamia milk as the liquid element. Their secret is that no ice and little liquid is involved- it’s frozen wholefoods.
Toppings: They do the toppings ratio better than anyone. Their nuts are delicious and their buckinis are the best.
++D.Bowls++ 18/110 Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi
Order: Acai in a small bowl (if you add enough fruit toppings, they will put it in a medium bowl), definitely with an extra scoop of acai on top.
Texture: not too icy and holds its own on the melting front. Pretty fantastic, with no bad aftertaste. No choice as to the blend.
Toppings: too much dried fruit in the granola, but otherwise generous with strawberries and banana. Any other toppings are add-ons.
+Harry’s Bondi+ 2/136 Wairoa Avenue, Bondi
Order: there’s only one bowl. No choice as to anything. It has that hallmark froyo swirl and a great texture. One of the slowest melting on the market. Light on the toppings and very refreshing.
Oakberry 1/82-92 Gould St, Bondi
Order: Acai in a cup (because that’s the vibe/trend at this place) with buckinis, peanut butter and definitely some extra fruit.
Texture: perfect texture, but unfortunately a medicinal aftertaste.
Toppings: the widest selection I have ever seen. Too many to list, but if you want it they’ve got it.
Girdlers 7-8 The Strand, Dee Why
Ordered: Acai bowl ($15): blended organic acai and banana. Green bowl ($15): blended kale, spinach, mango, avocado, banana and almond milk.
Texture: The worst texture I’ve ever had. There were so many whole ice cubes and bits of frozen fruit. Not blended properly. The green bowl was super watery as well.
Toppings: On the acai bowl there were bucknibs, banana, fresh berries, quinoa flakes, roasted almonds, hinterland honey, passionfruit and vegan granola. I was happy with this combo and really like the quinoa flakes, which I’d never tried before. Needed more of the crunchy elements.
The green bowl had bucknibs, organic choc nibs, banana, blueberries, quinoa flakes, passionfruit and vegan granola. Not enough crunchy toppings (nuts or granola) and not a fan of the sour green apple. Too much banana, considering the blend was so watery.
Culture Bean 15 Gray Street, Kogarah
Ordered: Acai bowl ($15).
Texture: This blend had a strange aftertaste and was a bit icey, but still nice and smooth and thick.
Toppings: The spelt maple museli was very very sweet and packaged, but there were enough nuts to compensate. Loved how many coconut flakes there were. Defs too much chia. Passionfruit didn’t need to be there.
Bobby’s Corner Cafe 30a Hastings Parade, North Bondi
Ordered: one choice of bowl.
Texture: Soupy and very melted.
Toppings: Very sparse toppings.
++Flower Child++ 391/1 Anderson Street, Chatswood
Ordered: Acai bowl ($16).
Toppings: Strawberries, blueberries, banana, chia seeds, almonds, shredded coconut & granola This is a list of the ideal toppings ratio. The granola would have been better without the dried fig. The perfect amount of nuts.
+Fruitologist+ 2 Nagurra Place, Rozelle
Ordered: Acai bowl ($12 +$1 for peanut butter)
Toppings: I love the peanut butter (the best peanut butter I’ve had as a topping. The right consistency and amount). They also don’t put all the toppings on top but rather sprinkle some on the bottom before putting the blend on top, so that you don’t have to mush up your bowl to get some crunch with every bite. This is genius.
Texture: Fabulous texture, and didn’t melt even if eaten over 20 mins.
Tiny Giant 110 Audley Street, Petersham
Ordered: TTG premium acai bowl ($15.90).
Texture: This acai tasted like medicine and made us feel ill afterwards. It was also watery.
Toppings: Smart- someone is using macadamia nuts! Flowers were arbitrary- if they wanted to make it pretty, please explain the placement of the banana bits. Muesli was boring and too sweet. Way too many sunflower seeds.
Cali Press 475 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Ordered: Cacao crunch ($13.50, regular).
Texture: This was also not properly blended, with bits of frozen banana. The blend was made of coconut water, acai, banana, blueberry, raspberry and cacao.
Toppings: Cacao buckinis, banana, blueberry, peanut butter and coconut. These toppings were so miserable in size compared to the amound of blend- definitely needed nuts or more coconut chips.
++Happy as Larry++ 273 George Street, The Met Centre
Ordered: Acai bowl ($16).
Toppings: Strawberries, blueberries, banana, chia seeds, roasted almonds (YUM), shredded coconut & granola Again, the perfect list. This was also the perfect amount of toppings and the most filling of all the acai bowls I’ve had. The best granola of all.
Concrete Jungle 58 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ordered: Blue magik smoothie bowl ($17.50)
Texture: Nice and thick. The blend was blue algae, banana, pineapple, coconut water and yoghurt.
Toppings: Abismal. Tasted like cereal out of a packet, not ‘housemade granola’. There were just puffs. They should check their definition of granola. No flavour added, apart from the blueberries.
Pineana 49 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon
Ordered: Kahuna acai protein boost ($14)
Texture: Quite nice but could be thicker. Too much fruit juice (contained acai berry, banana, peanut butter, cacao and coconut). The blend was way too sweet. The texture of what looked like coconut soft serve was so so bad. It was icey and not backed-up with flavour. The chocolate sauce was less chocolatey and more sugary.
Toppings: Only three almonds. Granola just tasted like sugar.
Ritual 160 Sailors Bay Road, Northbridge
Ordered: Acai bowl ($17)
Texture: Like a sorbet.
Toppings: The blend had that slightly medicine-like taste. A lot of unnecessary fruits that didn’t match the acai, like kiwi, pomegranate and watermelon. The buckwheat in the HippieLane ‘rawnola’ was great for crunch. I love the coconut yoghurt and shredded coconut.
Archie’s 218 Military Road, Dover Heights
Order: one choice of bowl.
Texture: watery and hard to stomach. Bad medicinal aftertaste.
Toppings: no choice, but generous with granola.
Cafe Bondi 286 Campbell Parade, North Bondi
Order: one choice of bowl.
Texture: watery but flavour is there.
Toppings: excellent, although not enough.
Also need to visit: Soul Bowl in Parramatta, Upper East Side Bondi and Chez Sun.
I always like to be invited to new places. Anyone with suggestions or disagreements should please contact me.