Acai is a tasty, chilled phenomenon that has become a mainstay in the development of the millennial palate. However, not just any take on acai will satisfy this generation's expectations. 

Unfortunately, finding spots for acai can be difficult, and I anticipated finding good acai in Gainesville would be a challenge. Fortunately, I discovered that this health food trend had found its own niche in the Gainesville area - check out my three favorite Gainesville spots below! 

Vale Food Co

Hanna Silverstein

This was the best place for acai that I went to, fulfilling my goal of finding good acai in Gainesville. The different types of granola and fruit toppings were enticing, especially since the two other places were rather limited. The acai itself was smooth, creamy, and refreshing. The granola was crunchy, and the bananas, blueberries, and strawberries were fresh.

Vale also offers the option to add on toppings like chocolate chips, chia seeds, and honey (although there is an additional cost of a dollar for every topping after the first three). Even though this is the most inconvenient place to go to since it's necessary to drive or take the bus, it's definitely worth the trip! 

Shake Smart

Amanda Arnone

Shake Smart came to the University of Florida campus the semester before school let out, so I was not able to explore what they had to offer. Finding out that they had acai bowls gave me the push to go to one of their locations.

Unfortunately, the acai itself was a little grittier than Vale's with a bit of an artificial aftertaste. However, the fruit toppings of banana, blueberries, and strawberries tasted fresh. Specialty toppings like chocolate chips and different seeds are an additional cost, ranging from $0.25 to $0.75. This one cost around $7, which is a deal for a treat that usually costs at least $10.

This was the most convenient place to get acai since there is a location in the Reitz Union as well as Southwest Recreation Center. Both are great since people can meet up and either hangout or workout and enjoy a cold treat before heading out into the Gainesville heat.  

The P.O.D. in the Hub at UF

Amanda Arnone

This location definitely piqued my curiosity. It is a self serve station with a machine that acts like a soft serve dispenser that instead of churning out ice cream, releases acai. It was a cool experience that everyone should try at least once.

Additionally, the brand of acai, Sambazon, is advertised as being organic and fair to the people they purchase the berries from. The actual acai was on par with Shake Smart, if a little smoother. However, the choice of toppings was more limited. Out of the five fresh fruit toppings, two were missing and the rest were low, but what was still available looked tasty. 

There is no additional charge for toppings since the price varies by the ounce, with each ounce costing $0.65. This is a convenient place since there are many bus routes that stop by the Hub (and it's close to Turlignton). If there is no time to run to Reitz Union while on campus, this is the next best spot to go.

An Overview of Gainesville's Acai Offerings

girl eating, Smoothie Bowl, acai, delicious, berries, smoothies, Summer, Sun, outdoors
Julia Gilman

There were definitely a couple of acai standouts, with Vale Food Co being my favorite. The texture and flavor of the acai blend was the best out of all the options and the fruit was fresh. The only drawback was the cost since it was the most expensive. 

Shake Smart was the most accessible with two locations on campus and the most cost effective for the quality. The Hub location at the P.O.D. was the most flexible with pricing since price varies by the ounce. The limited selection of toppings, however, made it a less attractive option than Vale and Shake Smart. Overall, all of these places had acai that would serve as a welcome respite from the heat of a typical Gainesville day.