WHIP: Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar

Courtesy of Kate Bennett

Helen Mehreteab, Staff Writer

Princeton is home to various restaurants, shops, and cafés, many of which are concentrated on the iconic Witherspoon Street. A minute’s walk from Small World Coffee, Olives, and Mamoun’s Falafel lies a hidden gem: Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar, which is inspired by the Costa Rican heritage of the owner, Ammel. Known for the freshness and authenticity of its drinks and foods, Tico’s is a juice bar like no other. About twenty-six years ago, Ammel came from his homeland of Costa Rica to the United States with a vision: to share the natural tropical flavors of Costa Rica with the people of America. Over the past ten years, that vision has become reality, as customers come piling in to taste what Tico’s has to offer. The owner’s brother, a charismatic employee at Tico’s, describes this vision, saying, “In Costa Rica, everything was natural, we got a lot of fruits…and he [Ammel] wanted to bring that mentality to Princeton.” He adds, “When people come here, they usually come back. They love it.” And come back they do.

With fresh homemade juices, like The Tiger, Ivy, and Goodness, Tico’s puts quality and customers first. I knew the real test was to get customer feedback and so I did, unaware of all the praise and compliments that I would have coming my way. A Brazilian student from the Hun School reports on the famous açai bowl at Tico’s, “We’ve had açai from other places…in the United States before, but they haven’t been as good as Tico’s—it’s really authentic.”

As soon as I, a complete newcomer, walked through the door, I felt the welcoming community at Tico’s. The juice bar was nice and homey, and the aroma of fresh fruits quickly came my way. The beautiful array of produce and drinks made the counter vibrant with color. I was approached by the owner’s brother who greeted me like family. After talking some more about Tico’s and how it was created, one more detail caught my eye. “Everything we use is fresh,” the owner’s brother shared. And it’s as simple as that.

Among the laughs and chuckles, I felt like I had joined the Tico’s family, a unique experience that was very rewarding after a hard day at school. After taking a long look at the many delicious menu options, I stumbled upon the mango-pineapple fusion drink, known as the Costa Rican, and was struck by how natural and refreshing it was.

After tasting this delightful drink, I was not surprised to find PDS sophomores Brooke Smukler, Charlotte Meyercord, and Isabel Hogshire enjoying their share of Tico’s menu as well. “It’s probably the only place like this in town,” said Hogshire. When asked for her favorite menu option, she responded, “Açai bowl. You just have to get it. It’s so good. And usually it’s something you can only get at the beach, but you can get it here.”

Tico’s is where fresh food meets a family ambiance, something that is truly hard to find. I left Tico’s energized and excited, ready to explore other cool spots in town, but nowhere else can boast the unique and lovely atmosphere of Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar.