Every acai bowl has five elements that make it or break it: Granola, the acai base, fruit on top, honey or agave, and additional toppings like coconut. I tried four acai bowls from grab-and-go spots directly around ASU's Tempe campus (for research purposes of course) and here is the deepest analysis on acai bowls you'll probably ever encounter. Though, try them all because what I hate in an acai bowl, you may just love about it.
Even though they can't all share the number-one spot, each bowl is unique in its own great way.
#1: Best Acai: Chop Shop
Look no further than the most perfect acai bowl in the Tempe area.
General vibe: Their outside seating is perfect. It's always busy and there are birds everywhere trying to snag food and just hang out. They have a pigeon that sits on top of the outdoor fireplace. If you don't like birds, maybe sit inside.
Granola: Does not get soggy, is the perfect granola to acai ratio, perfectly sweet, and the right crunch.
Acai: Dark, as acai should be. The base is pre-made for the day and blended with acai, berries, bananas, and apple juice. It's not overly sweet either. Sometimes it's super cold since they keep it in the freezer and scoop some out for each bowl.
Fruit on top: Strawberries and bananas
Agave: Not as much as I'd like, but luckily they have agave and honey out for people to add more themselves!
Additional toppings: Includes a minimal amount of coconut on top.
#2: The Bodhi
What I love about the Bodhi is that their acai is like a dessert and very customizable.
General vibe: Cute place. Lots of seating, and generally busy. They have a community table, which is interesting and can fit a group of 12.
Granola: Yummy granola, actually better than ChopShop's.
Acai: Their pre-made base is dark as well and is blended with strawberries, bananas, acai, and coconut water. Not too sweet. The only downside is that sometimes it's served melted and is more like a smoothie bowl consistency, which personally I do not mind, just something to note.
Fruit on top: Varies, but is typically bananas and strawberries. Sometimes pineapple, if you ask for it.
Honey: Lots of yummy honey on top. I love honey. The more the better.
Additional toppings: The coconut on top is really good when the honey is on top.
I enjoy eating WowWowLemonade's acai bowls because they have really cool spoons. It's difficult to explain, but just trust me on this one.
General vibe: Cute, but I would never sit here and eat my acai bowl. It's in the lobby of the Rise apartment building and people are always walking through to get in.
Granola: Pretty good, not as good as Bodhi but still pretty great.
Acai: They make each acai bowl fresh on the spot, though I am not the biggest fan of their bases. It's creamier since their default base is with almond milk. Smoothie-bowl thickness.
Fruit on top: This one is good, They not only have bananas and strawberries but blueberries too.
Agave: They put a good amount of agave on top, but I always add more when I get back home.
Additional toppings: NONE! Though, I personally like to add their coconut peanut butter for $1 extra. It really tastes like coconut.
Nekter is a growing franchise, so yes they do have cute branded bowls and neon spoons to eat your acai with, but don't be fooled. Out of all the places above, they do have the most options for customizing your bowl.
General vibe: The best interior of all and a place I could sit and do schoolwork if I so chose to. It smells very fresh in there and even has couches.
Granola: The things that make me rate it last is their hempseed granola. It could be a lot better. I hate the rice crisps in granola. Oats only! The rice crisps get soggy so quickly and are not a good complement to the overall bowl. Granola is an integral part to each bowl and when it's lacking, can sink an entire ship, or in this case an acai bowl.
Acai: Pretty average and creamy since it's made with cashew milk. It's made to order, but hopefully, you have time to wait since this can be a pretty popular spot if you head there in the morning.
Fruit on top: Depends on the bowl, and yes there are many bowl options, but the classic has strawberries, bananas, and blueberries!
Agave: minimal amount of agave on top, could definitely use more.
Additional toppings: None, which is a bummer. Every additional thing is more money.