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Bad Juju Juice Bar finds artistic mix between morbidity and health food 

click to enlarge Bad Juju’s Soyrizo vegan tacos are best-sellers. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Bad Juju’s Soyrizo vegan tacos are best-sellers.
Sure, we’re used to seeing local artwork for sale on coffee shop walls, but there’s a difference between that and walking into Bad Juju, which feels more like an extension of a modern art gallery — like if GOCA, on one of its more bizarre First Friday showings, were also serving health food. To be clear, that’s a good thing.

Speaking of the permanent installations that she and co-owner Alex Vazquez created, Mala (that’s a mononymous name) says they “take you out of the mindset of going to a restaurant, and it turns into an experience for the senses ... here in the Springs you don’t get enough of that playfulness into businesses.”

Playfulness, like large black plastic army men rappelling down a wooden accent wall on the top of which white mannequin-type hands grasp fake fruit or make gestures like devil horns. A fixie bike’s suspended on another baby blue wall covered in a hundred-plus life-sized Warhol-esque banana stickers, above banana-yellow couches next to a creepy cat skeleton in a deep shadow box. Continuing the playfully macabre theme, an area of shelving hosts glass and porcelain skulls and more oddities. There’s an X-ray assemblage, fake ivy cascading down a menu wall, and cool clear, pneumatic barstools, tucked under a counter set with coloring book pages and crayons.

Then there’s Mala’s lore about the true owner of Bad Juju, a skeleton named Ernest Selfridge, who helps clean up at day’s end and “sends out cold-pressed juice shots when he feels like it.” The aggressive quirkiness goes on.

But yes, there’s real juice, almost always from organic ingredients, they say, $6.95 for 12 ounces. The flavors are pretty standard, like the carrot-cucumber-lemon-kale-spinach Good Juju juice, sweet and sour notes balancing bitter vegetal. Or make your own, like my aloe-ginger-beet-wheatgrass-carrot-coconut, zingy and pungent, and only $4 if added to a entrée item to become a meal deal. Or get a fine iced chai latte or iced gojiccino, basically agave-sweetened goji tea, berries afloat.
Location Details Bad Juju
1502 W. Colorado Ave.
West side
Colorado Springs, CO
208-9194
Juice bar
A house-made black bean and minced veggie burger infused with chipotle peppers holds up well with a little char sear for character and classic fixings, on a slightly drying, fluffy Vienna bun; take more than a single ketchup packet as I did, when offered. Mayo or another supporting sauce would help.

More popular, even with omnivore patrons, says Mala, are her vegan Soyrizo (faux chorizo) tacos, the commercial item joining sautéed zucchini, onions and potatoes and again chipotle peppers for earthy, smoky seasoning backbone. Avocado wedges and fresh lime brighten bites, which taste great even if mushy texturally, reinforced by a side of tacky saffron rice. Though $9 feels a bit steep for two tacos.

Of four acaí bowls ($9.50), we opt for the house-made peanut butter one, with agave, granola, strawberries, banana and blueberries — banana, acaí and strawberries become a purée with almond milk for the base. Creamy and fresh, call it a fine breakfast or healthy dessert, surprisingly not too sweet, perhaps the PB helping the fiber buffer the sugars.

Mala, an accountant full-time as well, views Bad Juju as a space to promote community and wellness (there’s yoga upstairs and live music events). “We try to make good food that happens to be vegan and vegetarian, not make vegan/vegetarian food taste good,” she says. “Healthier living without compromising having a good life.”

With a brand built around symbols of death, let’s just call that juxtaposition another artistic touch.

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