Dinky’s newest spot is a booming trendy smoothie bowl chain.
The health-conscious smoothie bowl trend seems unstoppable, and the opening of Nautical Bowls in Dinkytown only brings the University of Minnesota closer.
Nautical Bowls is a Minnesota-based chain, but according to their website, they’re growing rapidly with 85 locations across the country listed as “coming soon.”
Nautical Bowls supposedly serves truly refreshing food – an idea that forms the core of Nautical Bowls’ identity. Nautical Bowls is all about “a quick meal without compromising your healthy lifestyle,” according to their website.
The health theme permeates every aspect of the restaurant. A television looping of fit youngsters surfing, waterskiing and playing on the beach greets Nautical Bowls guests at the entrance, all with smoothie bowls in hand. Each surfboard-shaped table comes with a jar full of platitudes such as “you’re stronger than you think” and “every day is an opportunity to improve.”
Arranged in ice cream-like tubs, the bowl bases run the gamut of different sweet fruits. The setup encourages quick pickup and makes the whole process efficient enough to meet the needs of a student on the go.
That’s exactly what I was when I walked in on a Thursday afternoon looking for an invigorating pre-workout meal; I ordered the Big Island Bowl. It seemed like a nice range of flavors, containing most of their bases, with dry granola and goji berries providing textural contrast.
The bowl came out delicious, the colorful base layers and cool toppings made it extremely Instagram worthy. Unfortunately, the overflowing toppings made the bowl a bit messy and difficult to eat at first.
Once I had those first bites, however, it became a delicious dining experience. The combination of granola, chia pudding and dragon fruit perfectly balances the creamy and crunchy textures. The fresh strawberries also added a nice acidity and fresh flavor. I legitimately believed that what I was eating was a healthy snack to sustain me for the rest of the day.
When I got down to the lower layers, that illusion started to crumble a bit. Once all the crunchy toppings were gone, the bases themselves started to taste and feel too sweet and rich. The blue majik, mango and coconut bases alone looked more like something you would find in a frozen yogurt store than somewhere that touts the health benefits of their food.
The bases alone are quite sweet, even though a large majority of their sugar is natural. I needed a refreshing boost and felt like I had just eaten a big dessert.
I would always recommend Nautical Bowls for their sweet array of flavors. However, I would take their website branding of a meal that “will FEED you good, to FEEL good” with some caveats.