Just blocks away from Pitt’s campus, Oakland residents now have access to a tasty and healthy alternative to frozen treats and juices.
Salud Juicery recently opened its fourth location in the Pittsburgh area — tucked away at 3400 Fifth Avenue. The unadvertised soft opening Friday, Jan. 5, allowed them to make sure everything ran without kinks before the grand opening Jan. 8.
According to its website, Salud is a health and wellness juicery whose passion is providing healing and wellness support, enabling customers to incorporate balanced lifestyles and dietary choices to become their best selves.
Salud came to life when current CEO Ginny Corbett and a few friends wanted to create a dining experience to help people reconnect with the earth. They chose the name Salud because of its meanings in Spanish: health and cheers. Since then, Corbett and other employees have worked to test recipes, making products they can stand behind in terms of taste and health standards.
The store is small yet cozy — only two tables with two chairs each and a bench with a small coffee table sit out front. The interior features a bright and modern space with a white kitchen area, a wooden bar and distressed copper tables. Many of the customers jammed to the music playing during my visit as they waited for their food — a nostalgic mix of early 2000’s pop hits.
Salud’s menu is pretty expansive, which allows most customers to find something they might enjoy.
According to Daniel Wilson, assistant manager of the Oakland location, Salud is more than just an average smoothie joint — it focuses on the health and wellness aspects of food, as demonstrated by its products. Some of the healthy options Salud offers include bowls, cleanses, health shots and medicinal drinks.
Salud also offers gluten-free options for an additional fifty cents, as well as nut-free options. Many of the healthy ingredients Salud uses — such as bee pollen — are out of the ordinary to the average customer.
Salud has a “Bee Kind” initiative, partnering with beekeepers to highlight the decreasing honey bee population. This initiative helps bring attention to the honey bees and the groups and businesses that support them.
When I went to Salud, I asked Wilson what the most frequently bought items on the menu were and then proceeded to order the most popular item from the four main sections — shots, juices, smoothies and smoothie bowls.
The first item I tried was a shot called the “solar ray” — a yellow liquid dotted with red cayenne pepper and an apple slice floating on the surface. Containing lemon, ginger, cayenne and turmeric, this $2.75 liquid mixture is Salud’s take on the classic lemon-cayenne detox drink.
The shot itself went down smoothly, but the aftermath hurt — my throat, mouth and lips burned from the cayenne pepper. Though it burned, cayenne pepper has been proven to have many nutritional benefits, most notably increasing metabolism and promoting weight loss. The apple slice helped with the burn, but it didn’t take it away fully.
While I enjoyed the shot, I would not recommend it to people with a low tolerance for spicy or sour flavors, seeing as the base of the shot was pure lemon juice.
The next item I tried was a juice called the “smiling Irish.” The green liquid costs $5.50 and contains spinach, kale, lemon, apple and cucumber served in a plastic cup with a domed lid. This juice was definitely not for me. Out of everything I tried, this was the worst item. It tasted like pure cucumber juice with almost no other flavor. I was expecting a little apple or lemon to offset the bitterness of the kale and cucumber.
I let my friend, Maura Sackett, take a sip — she said it “tastes like you just ate a high-quality spa.”
The next item I tried was a smoothie called the “green Anna.” It costs $5.25 and contains spinach, banana, almond, oat, almond milk, plant-based protein and dark chocolate topping. The smoothie came out extremely green.
This was my favorite item out of all of the ones I tried. Although I could taste the spinach, the other flavors really balanced it out and created a refreshing taste. It was very filling, too — like a meal in a cup.
The final item I tried was a smoothie bowl called the “p-bee bowl.” This bowl costs $9.25 and contains acai, blueberry, strawberry, banana, cashew, date, peanut, bee pollen, agave, granola and chocolate.
The smoothie base was a deep purple color, and the toppings were arranged in multicolored lines on the surface of the bowl. It tasted very fruity, with hints of peanut flavor in each bite, and was probably my second-favorite item I tried.
The only aspect of this dish that I did not love was the bee pollen. It was a crunchy topping that tasted similar to honey, but with a more earthy flavor — it had a sort of bittersweet taste. If I got this item again, I would definitely leave the bee pollen out of it.
Overall, the atmosphere of Salud Oakland is quite pleasant. They play great music in the store, and even though it’s a very small shop, the employees make it feel warm and welcoming. Despite prices, if you can splurge, I would definitely recommend trying something there.