Battle of the Bowls

A guide to the acai bowl experience


Each of the bowls listed side by side, the “Cosmic Dream bowl” (left), “Nutella bowl” (middle) and the “Sunrise bowl” (right).

Playa Bowls- Opening its first location in 2014 in New Jersey, over 170+ Playa Bowl locations have continued to successfully grow business and open up new stores nationwide. While there are only a few locations currently stationed in Michigan, the closest one to Shelby Township is located in Rochester Township.

When first walking into the building, customers are instantly met with upbeat music and vibrant decorations. The store isn’t huge, but it provides plenty of seating. The eatery is themed to be a tropical, almost summer-like vibe. The workers instantly greet you with a smile and let you take a look at their large chalkboard menu before ordering.

While they are most known for their acai bowls, their menu also includes smoothies, juice, coffee and cold compressed juice. They have over 35 different types of acai bowls with a wide range of topics and bases, open to those to customize as they please. They also have an “everything” option, that offers a multitude of fruits and bases, for customers who are unsure of what they want.

One of their most popular bowls, the “Nutella Bowl”, has an acai base and is topped with granola, banana, strawberry, coconut flakes and Nutella drizzle. It has about a five-minute wait time and each bowl, with no other options for sizes, comes in a reasonably sized cup. The bowl also comes with branded, recyclable spoons that can be thrown away after eating, or even taken home to be reused.

This bowl can quickly fill you up and is ice cold, a perfect treat for the upcoming summer. 

The chilled acai mixes perfectly with the sweet strawberries and Nutella. The granola and coconut flakes add a needed crunchy kick to the smooth texture. This refreshing treat costs about $13.00 and is a little more on the expensive side. Other items on the menu are in the same price range.

With a combination of the clean, brightly colored store and the wide variety of tasty treats Playa Bowls offer, I would rate it a five out of five.

Nautical Bowls- Much newer to the acai scene, Nautical bowls was established in 2018 and has 39 locations currently open across the United States. There are currently only three locations open in Michigan, the closest one to Shelby Township located in Royal Oak.

This specific location is inside a large strip mall, but the large sign helps point it out. In comparison to Playa Bowls, this store is extremely small and can only fit a few tables. As if the name isn’t already a giveaway, Nautical bowls is ocean themed, the decorations and menu reflecting that. Even though the store is tiny, it is clean and welcoming. 

Nautical bowls only serve different types of diverse acai bowls. They have ten signature bowls on the menu, but openly provide the option to customize your own bowl start to finish. Also unlike Playa Bowls, Nautical offers different bowl sizes, comically named theDinghy’ (12 oz), ‘Cruiser’ (16 oz) and ‘Yacht’ (24 oz).

One of their ‘safer’ bowls (with not a lot of ingredients) is the ‘Sunrise Bowl’, which has a Blue Majik and Pitaya (acai) base, granola, banana, strawberries and honey. The bowl takes only a few minutes to make and is ready quickly. The double layer of acai adds an extra kick to the bowl and balances out the fruit well. The honey is a nice, sweet addition to the bowl and ties it all together nicely.

Depending on which size you order, the bowls can cost anywhere from $8-$14.00. While a little less expensive than Playa, this nutritious treat can get costly over time. 

While the workers were extremely kind and the decorations in the store are amusing, the small menu, the long drive and the tiny location are somewhat a deterrent for a snack that you can find at other acai bowl locations. I would rate it a three out of five.

Beyond Juicery+Eatery- The oldest establishment on this list, Beyond Juicery+Eatery, had its first location opened in 2005 in our very own Birmingham, Michigan. With a steady number of locations opening up in Michigan and Ohio every year, it currently has about 50+ locations open. Unlike the last two stores, it has two nearby locations, one located on 23 Mile Road and one on Hall Road.

These eateries have a new, modernized type of decoration. Their stores are very open and minimalistic, always appearing very clean and chic. While they don’t have many large tables for seating options, They have a comfy area with couches and futuristic-looking chairs and bean bags. You are quickly greeted upon entering and they usually have faint trending music playing.

Beyond Juicery+Eatery is actually most known for their smoothies, juices and different snack assortments rather than acai bowls. They actually only offer one type of acai bowl, named ‘The Cosmic dream Bowl’. This bowl has an acai sorbet base, honey flavored granola, sliced strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, coconut flakes and peanut butter. This bowl can easily be adjusted and customized to your taste with the removal or addition of different topics.

It only takes about three minutes for this bowl to be prepared and may even be shorter if they aren’t busy. Only featuring one size, this bowl can sure pack a punch. The chilled acai, like the rest of the bowls, is extremely refreshing and goes along well with the rest of the toppings. They give you a decent portion of everything and it doesn’t feel as one is overpowering the other.

For $12.00, this bowl is refreshing and is a great way to introduce yourself, or friends, to acai bowls. While still being on the expensive side, Beyond Juicery+Eatery does a good job on this treat, especially considering they don’t specialize in acai bowls.

Considering the nearby locations, modernized building and quick preparation times, I would rate this a four out of five.