Sunday, February 14, 2016

Breezing Into Tropical Smoothie Cafe


Tropical Smoothie Cafe
23841 El Toro Road Suite C-E127
Lake Forest, CA 92630

If you are an ardent reader of this blog, it's probably not a surprise that I'm not really much of a smoothie drinker. Yes, I understand that they are a great way to get my fruit servings, but I'm not much into just stopping by somewhere for just a smoothie. I know it's not healthy, but I'd rather get my fruit servings from a slice of dutch apple pie or maybe even from a glass of orange juice at breakfast with two eggs and a side of bacon. Needless to say I was a little skeptical walking into Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

We were recently invited here to experience this latest entrant to the smoothie battle going on here in Southern California. Tropical has been around since 1997. They started in Tallahassee, just selling smoothies, and two years later added a few wholesome food options to go along with their smoothies. Fast forward to 2016, and they are making a western push with the opening of their first California spots. Already opened in Rancho Cucumonga, and opening recently in Foothill Ranch, we were lucky enough to attend their Lake Forest opening a few weeks ago.

This Lake Forest spot is kind of secluded, but it's on busy El Toro Road. It's right next door to the Bank of America nearest the 5 Freeway, and in the same shopping center as Costume Castle, Guitar Center, and a 99 Cents Only Store. I've driven by numerous times after this event, and it appears that people have had no problem locating them, as there's always people inside this spot when I sneak a peek while driving by.

The space is lighted well, had a great energy to it, and it's hard to believe that this spot used to be a cleaners in its last incarnation. Of course there's plenty of smoothie options on the Tropical menu, but I was actually pretty impressed with their rather large selection of wraps, bowls, salads, flatbreads, and sides. A large majority of the customers on this evening were taking advantage of their half priced smoothies during their grand opening celebration, but this offer is also available daily from 7am to 9am. I was here mainly for food, but I also tried one of their smoothies as well. Let's check out what's going on at Tropical Smoothie Cafe.



The first thing out for us on this evening was their Roasted Mexican Street Corn ($1.29). This was not something that I expected to see in a smoothie shop. This half ear of corn was topped with a southwestern aioli, queso fresco, cilantro, and then stabbed with a stick for easier eating. I liked the subtle flavors of this fresh corn, but I would have liked a little more aioli all around the cob. Not a bad accompaniment for the other food here at Tropical, or a healthy midday snack.



To no ones surprise, including my own, Katie selected a bowl on this evening. This Island Buffalo Blue Bowl ($6.25) really had Katie singing its praises. You do have the option of having this as a wrap or bowl, but this good sized salad seems like the way to go here. The bowl is filled with a citrus slaw, mozzarella, romaine, ranch dressing, Gorgonzola, Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, and finished up with your choice of beef or chicken. Katie selected the chicken. When I heard that the produce here is provided by Melissa's, I knew Katie would spout off about the freshness of this, and of course that's what happened. She also mentioned that this salad really exceeded her expectations. She loved the tang from the citrus slaw, the slight heat from the hot sauce, and that there was plenty of cheese included here. She'd definitely get this again.



When I ordered this Chipotle Club Flatbread ($6.75), it kind of shocked me. I was really expecting more of a pizza-like flatbread, but instead some thing that resembled a taco was placed in front of me. This was filled with beef, bacon, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and the same chipotle aioli that was used with the corn. I really enjoyed this a lot more than I expected as well. Yes, it could have included a little more beef and cheese, but the chipotle sauce and the bacon added a flavor boost to this flatbread. I'd also have to commend Tropical Smoothie Cafe for choosing to go with Melissa's Produce, because the veggies on here really shined. Beautiful, vibrant tomatoes, and nice, crisp lettuce helped add to this satisfying sandwich.




Smoothie time, and Katie selected the Chai Banana Boost ($5.95) as her inaugural smoothie at Tropical. This had a whole plethora of stuff in it. Bananas, coconut, almonds, dates, cinnamon, whole grain oats, chai seeds, and peanut butter rounded out this beverage, which Katie called, "hearty, and a complete meal in cup-form." When it came time for me to make my smoothie selection, I just went with the one which sounded like it was the closest to a chocolate shake. That one would be the appropriately named, Chocolate Chiller ($5.95). Instead of ice cream, this was made with peanut butter, yogurt, and chocolate. How can that be bad, right? This was very filling, and at 24 ounces, I had a hard time finishing it. Not overly sweet, I could really enjoy this subtle chocolate and peanut butter combination, without having to worry about how bad this would be for me if this was a shake instead of a smoothie.

After our trip to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I could see this becoming one of our recurring spots to stop by for having a light lunch or dinner. I definitely see the allure of smoothies more than I did before my visit here. I still wouldn't consider myself to be a smoothie kind of guy, but I'm not as opposed to them as much now, especially since I know that they have some pretty legit food items on their menu. Definitely worth trying to find them on busy El Toro Road. Welcome to the neighborhood Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

We would like to thank everyone at Tropical Smoothie Cafe for their wonderful hospitality, and the opportunity to try them out.

If you would like to experience Tropical Smoothie Cafe for yourself, or would like to find your nearest location, head over to their website here: http://www.tropicalsmoothiecafe.com/

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