Açai bowls are certainly no novelty in Los Angeles, with chains like Ubatuba, Açai Republic, Harvest Bar, and Amazebowls serving the South American superfood berry in colorful bowls across the county. A new chainlet from Brazil called Oakberry, which has over 220 locations across the world, plans to infiltrate LA’s passion for the healthy snack with a new approach that emphasizes the fruit’s most natural flavors.
The chain first opened in Brazil four years ago and has been on an expansion tear ever since, including up to Miami and New York City. Locally, the fast casual restaurant debuted in Santa Barbara in mid-2020, before venturing to the greater LA area with its first shop opening in the Howard Hughes Center earlier this month. (A note: they call the location Playa Vista, but it’s not really that close to Playa Vista).
According to JP, the partner responsible for helping to open upwards of 50 stores in California over the next five years, Oakberry’s uniqueness comes from the specific sourcing and serving of its açai, which almost always arrives to the United States in frozen form. At many shops, the frozen açai is blended whole with other fruits and additives for stability and consistency, making for a fine meal — though not how Brazilians typically eat. At Oakberry, the açai arrives frozen but is then placed in a revolving tabletop machine — think slushies instead of hard, frozen fruit. Because of its semi-frozen state, Oakberry doesn’t keep true blenders in their shops, they simply mix the ingredients together as they are.
There’s a clarity in the açai’s dark, rich flavor at Oakberry that may feel disarming to Angelenos more accustomed to overly sweetened versions of açai, though it’s more in line with the traditional Brazilian version. That said, Oakberry’s organic açai can still come loaded with unlimited toppings (how very American), so long as it all fits into the company’s containers. Bowls (which are more like large plastic cups) start at $7.50 for a tiny size and scale up to $17 for a shareable monstrosity. Toppings are numerous, from various types of granola and fresh fruits to nut butters and beyond. More toppings might mean a more Instagrammable bowl, but it also means less actual açai, so tread carefully.
Oakberry’s first LA space in the newly-renovated Howard Hughes Center lands next door to the large Cinemark Theaters, with plans for corporate expansion later this year into Santa Monica, Century City’s Westfield Mall, and Hermosa Beach. It’ll be interesting to see whether LA will taste the difference between Oakberry’s product, or if the high prices will deter potential fans from trying it. As with most things these days, everything is available for delivery, albeit with a few more fees tacked on.
Oakberry is now open at the Howard Hughes Center at 6081 W. Center Drive, keeping daily hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.