Dining and food culture in Chicago

Pulp Nonfiction: Putting the Squeeze on Peeled, Chicago’s Juice Bar for the Uninitiated

Lincoln Park, Organics, Produce, Vegetarian Add comments

Photo: Jenny Yoon

A longtime staple in image-conscious Los Angeles, Chicago has jumped on the juice trend, with new spots like Peeled, just south of Lincoln Park close to the river, popping up around town. A streamlined space with organic, locally sourced produce ripe for consumption, Peeled offers a cold-beverage option that isn’t a tall iced latte or a pint. And it moves away from Jamba Juice’s sugar-loaded “smoothies.” Given the Midwest’s penchant for food that aims to clog arteries (here’s looking at you, ridiculous poutine trend), Peeled also offers a refreshing option that actually incorporates vegetables.

The interior of Peeled is airy, with lime-green walls and the smell of fresh produce hanging in the air. A sign on the wall urges patrons to be patient, as each concoction is made to order in the industrial blenders. Averaging seven dollars a drink, along with a nineteen-dollar behemoth unabashedly named, “Please, No Autographs,” Peeled stands tall in the face of frugal smoothie enthusiasts. The juice bar fares well, offering cold-pressed juices and breakfast-blend smoothies such as the Rastafarian Breakfast (a surprisingly hearty blend of papaya, pumpkin seeds and sesame tahini). At nine in a recent morning, a steady stream of svelte women sauntered in to order, their luxury SUVs parked in front of the establishment. Do most of Peeled’s clientele consist of skinny, pretty women coming from the nearby Whole Foods? “Yeah, I’d say like eighty percent are coming from there—or the gym upstairs,” says employee Derek Walls.
 I asked Walls what set Peeled apart from the other juice bars, like Green Corner (Wicker Park), Mana Food Bar (also in Wicker Park) and Protein Bar (the Loop). “Definitely the availability of certain superfoods, like maca [otherwise known as Lepidium meyenii, a South American plant used as a medicinal herb]—we’re the only place to get something most people don’t know about,” he said. He waxed poetic about the benefits of incorporating superfoods into one’s diet. He says Peeled aims to be accessible to juice newbies. “I think this is a great introduction, a great intro to the idea of cleansing your body. People need to take responsibility for their health,” he explains. “This is the future of humanity,” he says, grinning. (Jennifer Yoon)
Peeled, 1571 North Sheffield, (312)266-7335, 8am-8pm.

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