Spotted outside the door of Raleigh Raw on E. Hargett Street: a chalkboard sign with an illustrated pokéball from Pokémon Go, advertising its selection of poké rice bowls inside. Indeed, the Pokémon Go craze is that ubiquitous now, but on the day I stopped through, I wasn’t trying to catch any poké bowls, but was rather in the mood for a good smoothie.
Raleigh Raw identifies itself as a juice bar and café and it offers a vast selection of coffee, matcha, tea and kombucha drinks in addition to its line of cold-pressed organic juices and smoothies. It touts an idea of clean living and encourages its customers to “cleanse” and to adopt a healthier lifestyle, one that perhaps teeters on the edge of being sanctimoniously hegemonic.
In turn, much attention has been paid to the aesthetics of the flagship store in downtown Raleigh, from the design of the labels on the cold-pressed juices and grab-‘n-go eats stacked inside the front cooler, to the six-panel caps emblazoned with the “Raleigh Raw” avatar, repeatedly reminding everyone to #FuelTheHustle, its unofficial (or maybe official?) tedious mantra. The hip, clean aesthetic extends to the interior, with its expansive bar adorned with mid-century modern chandeliers perched overhead. There’s plenty of space to splay out with a Macbook Air if you so desire and refresh with a rehydrating cup of cucumber water between emails. If there’s a West Elm of juice bars in the area, this would be it.
It may be trying hard to imbue its meticulously-crafted lifestyle brand onto others, but for an aesthete, it can summon curiosity. And so I found myself on a Saturday morning sipping through 16-ounces of its Jalapeno Citrus smoothie ($7.50) made with an amalgamation of pineapple, orange, cilantro, jalapeno and moringa (a plant native to India). The chartreuse-colored smoothie went down, well, smooth, coating my tongue in a creamy goop of springiness from the cilantro and a slight acidic tang from the pineapple and orange. It was a good balance of the ingredients, and most importantly, not too sweet which is unlike the creations that typically come out of big box smoothie palaces that often are laden with too much sugar.
Still, I preferred my husband’s smoothie choice—the Blueberry Pollen ($7.50), a concoction of blueberries, bee pollen, banana, almond milk, sea salt, maca and raw honey. The natural sweetness from the raw honey and almond milk accentuated perfectly the pairing of the blueberry and banana.
Despite my lifestyle brand haranguing, the smoothies are legitimately good. And if you’re into juices, poké rice bowls, smoothies, and matcha drinks and want to lounge inside a uber-cool locale, well, you’d probably be wise to collect ‘em all from Raleigh Raw.
RALEIGH RAW | 7 W. Hargett Street Raleigh NC 27601 | 919.400.0944