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The BEST non alcoholic drinks and juices in the Bay Area?

I’m not talking cocktails but juices, milk, and such.

What places have wonderful drinks that are so good that you would go to the restaurant even if there was not another good thing on the menu?

Here’s my list in no particular order:

* note to anyone who read this post earlier. I edited it to put this brief list up front.

Bittersweet – Chocolate milk
Bombay Cuisine - badum-pista-nu-dudh.
Creations desserts – Mango Sago with coconut cream
Dara Thai Lao Cuisine – fresh fruit juices
Sabor Brazil – Fresh Brazilian fruit juices
Woodhouse Fish Company – lemonade
The French Hotel – orange juice.
Maggie’s – Sweet Tea
Pho 89 – Jackfruit/tapioca shake
Guerilla Café – Africano coffee
Montelimar Restaurant – Pitahaya
Los Guanacos – Chan

SAN FRANCISCO & BERKELEY – BITTERSWEET – CHOCOLATE MILK

Absolutely the best chocolate milk I’ve ever had. They use freshly shaved chocolate and there are little bits in the bottom of the glass that melt on the tongue.

BERKELEY – BOMBAY CUISINE - BADUM-PISTA-NU-DUDH.

The all time great drink here is the badum-pista-nu-dudh. It is milk with ground up pistachios and almonds that is spiced with cardamom and saffron. Very delicious and the ground up nuts in it give it a pleasant texture.

SAN FRANCISCO – CREATIONS DESSERTS – MANGO SAGO WITH COCONUT CREAM

It was like drinking a snow-filled cloud with fresh mango. Sago is tiny balls similar to the tapioca balls in bubble tea. However, it is an elegant, refined relative - tiny, silky and wonderful. The drink has three layers, white sago (similar in texture to the tapioca in puddings), fresh mango juice (they make it to order), and coconut cream which is almost like whipped cream. There are a few pieces of fresh mango on top.

BERKELEY - DARA THAI LAO CUISINE – FRESH FRUIT JUICES

Think of a slushy/icee using perfectly ripe fresh tropical fruit, sherbet-like, but liquid enough to drink. Each is topped with a slice of fresh fruit

The mango and the pineapple were as good as it gets. There is also fresh papaya, watermelon and cantaloupe. They only buy the most perfect fruit at its ripest, so the selection may be limited. One day they only had 5 servings of watermelon. Regulars know to shush out the good stuff early.This is not Jamba Juice’s sad frozen papaya etc, but lush fresh fruit.

RICHMOND – SABOR BRAZIL – FRESH BRAZILIAN FRUIT JUICES

They have exotic FRESH-SQUEEZED (so to speak) juices like acai, acerola, white Brazilian pineapple (abacaxi), caja, cacau (the white pulp of cocoa pods), caju, capuacu, graviola, and siriguela. Not to mention the more mundane guava, passion fruit, mango, melon, papaya, grape and OJ.

I qualify ‘fresh-squeezed’ as meaning they start with the actual fruit. Sometimes that fruit is frozen, but not like the sad frost-bitten chunks at Jamba Juice. The whole frozen fruit is the starting point. If the fresh fruit is available they start with fresh fruit. Squeezed might mean it is pulverized in the blender. Delicious stuff.


SAN FRANCISCO – WOODHOUSE FISH COMPANY – LEMONADE

Although this is almost identical to Sea Salt’s deconstructed lemonade where juice, simple syrup and ice are in separate pitchers and the drink is mixed by you to your preference, for some reason Woodhouse does it better. I crave the lemonade at Woodhouse while it is unlikely I’d order it again at Sea Salt.

BERKELEY – THE FRENCH HOTEL – ORANGE JUICE.

Don’t know why, but they always have the sweetest OJ. I think they use Florida oranges.

EL CERRITO – MAGGIE’S – SWEET TEA

The owner’s from Georgia. Enuf said.

SAN PABLO – PHO 89 – JACKFRUIT/TAPIOCA SHAKE

It tasted like real pureed jackfruit was the base. The tapioca balls were excellent too.

BERKELEY – GUERILLA CAFÉ – AFRICANO COFFEE

If you can’t decide between a latte, cappuccino or espresso. There’s the espresso shout, a hint of milk and a whisper of foam on top. It is made with Blue Bottle coffee.

SAN FRANCISCO - MONTELIMAR RESTAURANT - PITAHAYA.

This is dragon fruit juice which is a jewel-colored fuchsia and tastes like a mild lemonade with tiny pulpy seeds (about the size of kiwi seeds, but fleshier).

SAN FRANCISCO - LOS GUANACOS – CHAN

Same as Pitahay, but the drink is better at Montelimar. This one was sweeter and more cherry colored.

WORLD’S WORST BEVERAGE – KBAC KVAS – VARIOUS EASTERN EURO STORES

Kbac Kvas is a dark brown molasses colored soda from Russia. It in fact does have molasses in it as well as coffee powder, chicory root extract, St. John’s bread extract, prune juice, carbonated water and the usual sweeteners and preservatives. I would say it is an acquired taste, a VERY acquired taste and I can see why the owner hesitated before selling it to me. This was my first intro to Kvas which can be lovely like an apple cider. I’m glad it didn’t discourage me from trying the delicous versions at Cinderella Bakery and Gastronome in SF. AVOID THE BOTTLED STUFF.

I like trying new and different drinks in addition to top-notch versions of my standards. While searching for my old posts, I was taking a trip down memory lane. Thought it might be nice to put all the great drinks in one post since people might not want to read a post about Laotian food even if it is located in the gourmet ghetto of Berkeley.

These are my favorite drinks so far. I’m hoping hounds will clue me in on more delicious drinks.

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    1. I like the lemonade at Holy Land in Oakland. The little bits of lemon rind give it a nice texture.

      I'm a fan of the chocolate thai iced tea at Bittersweet. The green tea goes surprisingly well with the chocolate.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lillian Hsu

        Is that the drink where they drizzle white chocolate, I think, on the sides of the glass? It is either the Chocolate Thai iced tea that I like or the Choolate Chai. I THINK it was the iced tea if that had the drizzle.

        Thanks for the rec on Holy Land. Robert seems to always mention it favorably and I keep meaning to try it. I'd probably try Holy Land on Solano because it is nearer to me.

        1. re: rworange

          They definitely drizzle something white on the sides of the glass, but I always assumed it was sweetened condensed milk. I'll have to ask next time I stop in. Either way, it's delicious and refreshing on a hot day.

      2. The lemonade I've had at Holy Land had something like chia seeds in it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I've always thought it was bits of mint. Whatever it is, it's delicious lemonade. (This is at the Holy Land off of Lakeshore in Oakland, yes? I think there is also one near College and Ashby in Berkeley)

        2. As I mentioned in another thread recently, I love the Navarro grape juices at Chez Panisse (and a few other bay area restaurants also!)

          3 Replies
          1. re: susancinsf

            Yes! I love the Navarro Gewurtzraminer white grape juice. You can order it direct from Navarro for a pretty good price.

            1. re: Lillian Hsu

              I recently tasted a 10-year-old bottle of Navarro gewurtztraminer juice. Delicious, it had developed some of the flavors of old German wine.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I love the pinot noir's flavor, though the gequrtztraminer has a superior aroma. The Hidden Vine serves both, though the menu doesn't say which so you have to ask.

          2. Coconut Juice at Siam Thai Restaurant on De Anza off 85 is really good.