There are certain things we know to be true about Atlanta: the traffic is bad and our food skews towards fried. What’s not to love about fried chicken and doughnuts, right? But for Atlantans’ who prefer lighter, healthier options, Westside’s newest hotspot, Upbeet, couldn’t be more perfect.
Upbeet opened its doors in mid-June, a health nut’s dream with myriad options — grain bowls, salads, smoothies and toasts. A refreshing break from the usual processed fare, the ingredients are organic whenever possible and most are locally sourced. Do you have a restrictive diet? Gluten-free or vegan perhaps? There’s something on the menu for you.
Upbeet is the brainchild of Kelly Wallace and Erik Maier, co-founders of Young+Hungry, the parent company of Yeah! Burger and now Upbeet. They had been ideating their burger concept since 2013, envisioning already-made organic veggies and vegan options available to customers, but the demand for more increased over time. Kelly says, “It was apparent that Atlantans were ready for a brand like Upbeet.” It looks like they were right. Upbeet’s first weekend open saw long lines and a flurry of Instagram posts as people excitedly buzzed about the new spot, and it hasn’t really slowed down since.
Light bites aren’t only what separates Upbeet from the fast-casual pack. Crossing the threshold when entering the restaurant, you may feel a bit disoriented as you’re not quite sure if you’re still in Atlanta. Their aesthetics are crisp and white with minimalist design. Other than succulents on the tables and a few pictures on the wall, there’s not much there to distract you. “The decor is inspired by the West Coast, specifically L.A., where the clean eating movement began,” explains Kelly. “We designed the space to be bright, open and modern, allowing Upbeet’s fresh ingredients to be a focal point.” The ingredients truly are a focal point with a wall of greens for the salads and a row of ingredients displayed a la Chipotle.
They’ve also made sustainability a priority. Beyond recycling products, they compost food waste and packaging with Compostwheels, a mobile service that picks up waste and gives it to local farmers. So, you’re not just eating good, you’re also doing good.
Of course, all of this does come with a bit of sticker shock as a grain bowl and beverage may run you about $15. Of their pricing, Kelly says, “We understand that our prices are higher than some customers are used to, but that’s due to our use of organic ingredients, which are exponentially higher in cost than conventional ingredients.”
With so many options on the menu it can be hard to choose, but don’t worry, we sampled an assortment of items for you! Here are five things you must try when you go to Upbeet.
The Aloha Bowl is one of Upbeet’s best sellers, most likely because it plays off the popular poké trend. A jade-hued grain, bamboo rice is loaded up with mango, jalapeños, avocado, toasted coconut, ginger miso dressing and wild-caught tuna. Plane ticket to Hawaii not included.
Spin Class Salad
If you’re keeping those carbs low, this is the salad for you. Romaine, spinach, blueberries, cilantro, watermelon radish, crushed pistachios, local goat cheese and housemade lemon vinaigrette with grilled chicken combine for a delicious dish.
If you come here expecting an ice-cold Coke, you’ve missed the point. Instead, sip one of Upbeet’s refreshers: carrot ginger and cucumber mint agua frescas (a cross between juice and water) and charcoal activated lemonade, which isn’t nearly as cloyingly sweet as traditional lemonade.
O.G. Acai Bowl
We don’t need to tell you that smoothie bowls, specifically the ones made with superfood acai, are all the rage on Instagram. You can’t go wrong here, but we especially liked this one with bee pollen, hemp granola, strawberries, and bananas.
Don’t adjust your screen, the smoothie is actually that pink! Of all the smoothies we tried, this one has that wow factor with that vibrant pink hue from pitaya (dragonfruit).
Upbeet is located at 1071 Howell Mill Road, Ste. A, Atlanta, GA 30318. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (smoothie bar) and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (bowls); Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (smoothie bar) and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (bowls). Learn more at upbeet.com.
All photography by Lia Picard unless otherwise noted.