Fresh Cool Drinks (cart)
In a word: Fresh? Yes. Cool? Yes. Drinks? Yes.
The specs: #0571
Address, hours & details via Isthmus.
JM ate the strawberry banana smoothie.
Nichole ate the spring roll.
The bill was $$4.75, or $2.38/person, plus tip.
JM gave Fresh Cool Drinks a B+; Nichole gave Fresh Cool Drinks an A (see our grading rubric).
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Lest you presume we're on some sort of diet cleanse, this post represents only part of one day's lunch. Fresh Cool Drinks was the first on our Carte Lunche Day on Library Mall, when we knocked out three stops in one go. After hunting and gathering from Fruit Stand and Hibachi Hut, we settled down to partake of a few tastes of each item in order, then mixed things up.
JM's strawberry banana smoothie was extraordinary. The heaping dome hinted that there wasn't any icy filler in this baby. A really nice ripe banana taste dominated but the strawberries held their own. Strawberry banana's a pretty standard choice, but the smoothie menu here is long, and includes almost two dozen ingredients for mixing and matching to your heart's content.
We're not sure if we can call this gigantic spring roll a lumpia, but it's in the neighborhood. For $2, you get a hefty fresh roll stuffed with finely shredded cabbage and carrots with just enough scallion, mint, and cilantro to balance the flavor and a few ground peanuts for texture. (Nichole, who used to get one of these almost every week, swears the recipe changes subtly from roll to roll, keeping things interesting; here's the inside if you don't mind looking at half-eaten food.) It's all tossed in a smoky, Sriracha-kissed sauce to soften the vegetables. An extra half dollar gets you a line of shrimp down the middle, but the vegetarian option is quite satisfying.
Consuming the spring roll is an exercise in mindful eating perfectly paired with meditative peoplewatching on the mall. Even if you're not compulsive about balancing the ingredients in each bite, it takes a long time to masticate all those virtuous veggies; and besides, once the wrapper starts to give, you need to focus on not dripping red sauce on yourself.
Of the smoothie and spring roll outlets available, we're going to tip our hand and say this is the best one we visited. We love the operator's sincere friendliness and memory for her regulars. And the cart art, cartoony fruits asparkle with stars and bedecked in ivy, is pretty uplifting too.