First Impressions: Pinkberry

I’ve long lamented the poor selection of frozen treats here on the Monterey Peninsula. There’s Coldstone Creamery in the mall, Baskin-Robbins on Lighthouse and MYO froyo on Cannery Row and Alvarado, and that’s about it. So needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that Pinkberry was eyeing a spot here in Monterey. Sure, it’s a chain operation, but they have a commitment to quality product and ingredients that’s lacking from other local froyo shops. (Yes, I’m talking to you, MYO.)

It's finally here! Pinkberry opened up its shop in Monterey last week.

Pinkberry built a good amount of buzz offering free samples of their froyo at the Monterey farmers market. Now, they’ve opened in earnest. And I’ve already been two—scratch that—three times.

Pinkberry's sleek froyo operation.

If you’ve never been to a Pinkberry, you customize your froyo choosing a size, a flavor and toppings. It’s not self-serve, but I’m willing to sacrifice portion control—that let’s face it, probably wasn’t there anyway—for better froyo.

A diverse array of quality toppings to pair with Pinkberry's froyo.

Ordering at Pinkberry is like stepping onto an assembly line. First, you choose from four sizes—mini (or cone), small, medium or large—then comes flavor. Pinkberry carries six flavors: standard flavors like original tart and chocolate, fruity flavors like pomegranate and mango, and seasonal flavors like peanut butter and watermelon. Then last, but not least, add some toppings. For a flat fee, you can add toppings like fruit, cereal, candy, granola, honey, jam, juice-filled balls. (There are a couple of premium toppings like peanut butter crunch or “Swirly Whip” that cost 50 cents extra.)

I’m partial to the pomegranate or the original tart flavors.

My first swirl of Pinkberry in Monterey--pomegranate with fruity toppings like raspberries and gummy bears.

My first visit, I opted for a purely pink creation appropriate for Pinkberry’s opening: pomegranate with organic gummy bears, organic strawberry jam, boba-like strawberry juice “bursts” (for lack of a better word) and raspberries. The yogurt had that perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the toppings kept that balance too. My favorite topping turned out to be the gummy bears. They were so flavorful! And certainly the most gourmet gummy bears I’ve eaten!

Topped with granola and honey, this cup of froyo is practically a health food, right?

The next time, I created something I could tell myself was healthy: original tart topped with granola and honey. The granola was fresh, not stale, and light. I was surprised how much I liked the addition of honey—the sticky honey hardened when it touched the cold froyo, making nice bites of tart froyo, sweet honey and crunchy granola.

Mixing original tart froyo with Captain Crunch and peanut butter crunch sounded good, but the plain yogurt didn't work. Next time, I'll try it with peanut butter.

Last night, I had my first disappointing combination at Pinkberry—it happens to the best of us. I opted for the original tart with the peanut butter crunch and Captain Crunch. The toppings were great—like the fancy peanut butter made with rice puffs—but the original froyo base was too sweet and a little watery for those toppings. I’d order this one again, but using the peanut butter froyo as the base.

Pinkberry is fast becoming my go-to stop for a sweet treat in the evenings. As much as I hate to patronize a big chain instead of a local, homegrown shop, local favorite MYO just can’t compete against Pinkberry’s fresh ingredients and unique toppings.

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2 Responses to First Impressions: Pinkberry

  1. Honestly, I really love frozen yogurt, too, and I like Pinkberry. The issue that I have with this particular Pinkberry and the Starbucks next door is that the landowner kicked out three local businesses in favor for the larger, more recognizable chains. These chains can bring in more money due to their national reputation, but what then happens to local businesses?

    • Raul says:

      Yeah, I’m likewise torn about the new businesses on the corner. I don’t think that booting locals in this economy was the best move, but as long as Pinkberry and Starbucks are in, I at least appreciate their efforts to create–well, really just recoup–local jobs. It’s better than having an empty building, which was all too often the case with many of the other Alvarado storefronts.

      For froyo, I have to go with Pinkberry–their quality of product and ingredients is better than Myo. While they may be a national chain, it’s a local family that’s started this franchise.

      But I’m strictly against Starbucks–I’ve yet to set foot in that new store, and likely never will. It boggles my mind how anyone could pass up Cafe Lumiere with some of the best baristas in town and outstanding local Acme coffee just two doors down.

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