Vegans and vegetarians have a new option with this expanding juice-and-more spot

Acai bowl with granola, bananas, berries and shredded coconut at Carrot Express
Acai bowl with granola, bananas, berries and shredded coconut at Carrot Express

You don’t have to be a health food freak to enjoy a meal at Carrot Express’ second location in South Florida. It is just good, clean food.

Vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free eaters, pescatarians and carnivores all have something to dig into here. There’s also a good selection of fresh-squeezed juices, acai bowls and tropical fruit smoothies. Owner Mario Lauffer is Cuban-American of Polish and Turkish descent. He became a vegetarian at 18 after rescuing a bee when swimming. This is the first location he has franchised from his original Sunny Isles spot. He plans to open 10 more franchises in the next two years as eating healthy seems to be an on-going trend.

Start With These Dishes

Carrot Express
Poke bowl with ahi tuna, sesame seeds, seaweed, edamame, cucumber and carrot at Carrot Express.

Try the mixed vegetable juice with a blend of carrot, celery and beet. The B-52 adds in ginger and cucumber. Kaleiscious is a blend of kale, spinach, green apple, banana and lemon. The green dream blends kale and spinach with pineapple and apple.

Or get your greens in a salad with cilantro-lime or soy-ginger house-made dressings. Try the Green Goddess, which brings arugula, kale and baby spinach with alfalfa sprouts, avocado, cucumber and pumpkin seeds for a salty crunch. There’s also a kale Caesar and romaine-based Greek salad with house Greek vinaigrette. Add organic tofu, sesame-crusted ahi tuna, Scottish smoked salmon or a vegan burger for extra. A different vegan soup of the day is always simmering.

Share These Dishes

Carrot Express
Mashed sweet potato stuffed with roasted eggplant and melty cheese at Carrot Express

Stuffed mashed sweet potatoes are sharable, topped with chicken salad or roasted eggplant chunks and melted cheese.  Or share a sandwich. The LIV (created by David Grutman, the nightclub mogul) has grilled chicken breast, quinoa, avocado, kale, jack cheese and pesto sauce in a whole wheat wrap. There’s also the La Bomba with falafel, quinoa, roasted eggplant, hummus, arugula and tomato. The Power Egg White has jack cheese, tomato and spinach baked in a pita.

Platters are also good for communal eaters and come with cilantro brown rice and pico de gallo. Try Tim’s, named after a local police sergeant, with herb and spice-marinated chicken, shredded carrots, bean sprouts and avocado. There’s also baked tofu marinated in soy-ginger sauce and pesto chicken.  Mario’s Favorite can feed two. This brings cilantro brown rice and quinoa with scallions, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and greens sautéed in the house citrus sauce.

Save Room For Dessert

Carrot Express
Acai bowl with granola, bananas, berries and shredded coconut at Carrot Express

Order the Paradise Acai Bowl made with a semi-frozen Brazilian acai berries, granola and topped with banana, strawberries, blueberries, bits of mango and shredded coconut. Then pat yourself on the back for eating a healthy sweet treat.

Hidden Gems highlights out-of-the-way restaurants in Miami-Dade County. It is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review.

Carrot Express

Address: 7145 Collins Ave., North Miami Beach and 17100 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles

Contact: 786-471-5602 and 305-974-0148,

Hours: Everyday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Prices: Juices/smoothies $7-$10, sandwiches $8-$13, platters/bowls $9-$23, salads $8-$10, desserts $5-$6

F.Y.I. Delivery available, call 786-471-5597, order on-line or with the carrot express app

7145 Collins Ave., North Miami Beach