Food is imperative to a dining experience, of course, but in my opinion, it’s the windows that really define an eating establishment. Hear me out: When a ray of sunshine enters through a pane of glass and accentuates the dramatic peaks and valleys of a scoop of curry chicken salad?
Get Fresh Cafe, located on Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, boasts large, north-facing windows that welcome sunlight into its teal and red brick interior. A long, bamboo countertop table extends parallel to the windows, ideal for people-watching and skimming a Little Village magazine during a solo lunch break. Leafy plants, mid-century-style chairs and yellow accents decorate the space with clean, minimalist charm.
Wendy Zimmerman, owner of Get Fresh, said she wanted to create a “nurturing environment” for patrons to hang out in and enjoy the cafe’s nutrient-dense, seasonally rotating menu.
The juices and smoothies made with local ingredients should be familiar to those who frequent NewBo City Market and the Iowa City Farmers Market, where Get Fresh has long had a presence. There’s strawberry-banana and triple-berry smoothies, bright green Oh Kale Yeah juice (a blend of juiced kale, spinach, pineapple, zucchini and mint) and infused water, among many other colorful beverage options.
But the Iowa City cafe has an expanded menu including salads, smoothie bowls and grab-and-go items. I ordered an açai smoothie bowl, which consisted of an açai blend topped with strawberries, blueberries, coconut and a layer of ancient grain granola, for $12. The açai bowl alone would suffice for a mid-day meal, but Wendy urged me to try the curry chicken salad, which was replete with cubed chicken, peas, celery and specks of curry spices, all over fresh greens and decorated with sliced apple, carrot, red peppers and craisens.
Salads range from $9 to $12, depending on their size and the protein you choose. Get Fresh chef Tyler Jordan makes all dressings in-house (the Green Goddess dressing is divine), calling his domain a “no short-cuts” kitchen. As Get Fresh settles into its new location, the menu will continue to grow to encompass the entire food pyramid, including wraps, grain bowls and overnight oats.
“I want to provide food that is as nutrient-dense as our juice,” said Wendy, whose Get Fresh journey began with a small juice bar in NewBo City Market seven years ago. “I want to give people an easy way to eat healthy.”
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 272.