5 Old School Mexican Juice Shops in Highland Park That Have Been Juicing Since Before it Was Cool

Jugo Verde

There are few food trends in Los Angeles that have gathered as much momentum as juicing. It's kind of hard to not to give in. With the long list of supposed health benefits touted by its passionate followers that range from detoxing organs to weight loss to extending life expectancy, or just for its mere food guilt busting properties conveniently available in a drink, how can anybody say no? I, like many other Angelenos of all ages and backgrounds, fell for juicing. More than anything, to balance out the often voracious eating pattern that accompanies my writing specialization. Though, I treated it just as a supplement to my diet, not as a total replacement like many others do, since that is all my blazingly fast metabolism allows for.

Nonetheless, I quickly realized, my young (broke) freelance writer lifestyle didn't really gel with the high price associated with the mainstream juicing lifestyle, one that is notorious for juice shops charging as much as $360 for five-day "cleanses" or where a 16-ounce plastic bottle filled with a handful of nuts and water goes for more than my usual dinner budget ($11.99). Buying a proper home setup costs around the same as that week-long cleanse, by the way.

Luckily for me, my culture has me covered, and for a fraction of the cost. Freshly pressed veggie and fruit juice shops can be found in virtually every single city of in the country of Mexico. Unpasteurized juices are an integral part of the Mexican diet, regardless of class or privilege, and it's been like that for years. Some drink juice to quench a pre- or post-breakfast thirst, and others for their believed medicinal properties. Pulpy orange and beet juice (sometimes combined and called a "Vampiro" for its blood-red color) are the most common juices, available through morning street vendors in almost every corner in Mexico. They press your juice to order. But my favorite is a "Jugo Verde con extra nopal," Mexico's answer to green juice. Every place makes this drink differently, but it usually involves a mixture of orange, cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, cactus, and sometimes lemon, and you can always ask to customize it.

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles has a strong Mexican juice shop community. Here are five of them in Highland Park. These establishments have been enjoying a boost in their business lately, thanks to a new wave of health-conscious young residents that are starting to catch on to the refreshing and much more affordable Mexican cuisine tradition of jugos and licuados. Though they've had to add a few non-Mexican trendy ingredients like ginger and kale, don't expect to pay more than $4 for freshly pressed greens here.


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Jugos Azteca
Jugos Azteca is located on the East end of Highland Park's trendy York Boulevard. The owners are related to the owners of Huarache Azteca a few doors down, the local favorite for Mexico City-style griddled huaraches. This juice shop has more of a medicinal philosophy towards their juice blends, with a wall full of over a dozen varieties aimed towards helping everything from clearing your urinary tract (watermelon, grapes) or easing leg pain (grapefruit, celery, parsley, chayote). It's my personal favorite for Jugo Verde since their nopales (cactus paddles) are always fresh, they create a frothy, milky texture when juiced.


Oasis Ice Cream
Oasis is a bonafide Highland Park hidden gem, situated right off of Figueroa and Avenue 55 on semi-suburban Linda Vista Street, right across from an elementary school. It's equal parts ice cream parlor and juice shop, though most of the owner's home-churned frozen yogurt flavors like alfalfa, spinach, and celery have the attitude of a green juice. It's okay to get a little distracted on these, since they are amazing. If you still have space after a few samples, there is a binder overstuffed with dozens and dozens of colorful pictures of fruit and veggie juice options. There are a few tables on their curb to sit and savor whichever detoxing goodness you end up getting, so you can soak up those complimentary Vitamin D rays at the same time too.


Tropical Fruits and Juices
Don't let Tropical Fruits and Juices' generic name and window-only service fool you. This is a serious juice shop, with premium options like 100% mango juice and -- a mean jugo verde. If you're not a strict juicer, take a walk on the decadent side with their extra frothy "Chocomilk," a cup of full-fat chocolate milk frothed to stiff peaks with a milkshake maker. It's another Mexican favorite. Try to come on a Tuesday afternoon if possible and support the local up-and-coming Highland Park Farmers' Market. You may be rewarded with $1.00 shots of wheatgrass from the sprout booth, should you seek them.


Bionicos La Palapa
This was the first juice shop that I visited in Highland Park, and the one that planted the seed of my Mexican juicing culture/new juicing trend analysis. Come here for oversized styrofoam cups filled with kale-intensive extra frothy jugos verdes, and then stay to try at least one of their mangoneadas (mango sorbet with extra sour chamoy sauce and sliced fresh mango), their best seller among their established base of old school customers. While you're at it, try their seasonal Atole de Elote, a lightly sippable sweet corn porridge made with nothing but fresh corn; it's the edible insulating equivalent to wearing a North Face jacket.


Panaderia Delicia
Panaderia Delicia opens at 6 a.m. sharp everyday, and if you have the willpower to walk in to their bakery redolent of butter and fresh yeast without buying freshly baked pan dulce and coffee, there are freshly pressed juices for you. According to one of their cashiers, they've recently added ginger and kale as options for their juices to meet the demand of some new clients that come in on a daily basis. If you seek a nice middle path between a juice and pan dulce, you may want to order a Licuado de Mamey. Not many places offer smoothies made with this custardy Mexican tropical fruit that has a texture of cooked sweet potato and tastes like burnt caramel, and now you know of one of them.

Jugos Azteca
5213 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Oasis Ice Cream
5526 Monte Vista St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Tropical Fruit and Juices
N Figueroa St and Ave 58
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Bionicos La Palapa
5560 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

Panaderia Delicia
5567 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042

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About the Author

Javier Cabral is a food culture and punk rock reporter born and raised in East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.
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