Photography by Art by DJ Boy
My addiction started this summer. I’ll never forget the night it began. My father and I were walking down Nagle Avenue when Mango’s Paradise, a brightly-lit smoothie shop, caught my eye. Normally I only make my own smoothies, as I’ve encountered all kinds of bad in the city. (Think overly sweetened, processed, liquidly stuff.) But we’d just taken a long walk and I needed a pick-me-up. We stopped in not expecting much, but what we got was far beyond delicious.
The rows of fresh fruit glowed under the bright lights. The crisp nuts were many and varied, and the granola looked as though it had come out of the oven seconds before we got there. The presentation spoke for itself, piquing my interest and watering my mouth. I ordered a cantaloupe-pineapple-soy milk smoothie and took my first sip as we strolled back home.
“Wow,” I said to my dad, stopping in my tracks. “This is real!”
From then on, Mango’s Paradise was on my daily to-do list. I brought everyone I knew there, excitedly awaiting their reaction. Without fail, they caved, one by one, into the Mango’s Paradise addiction.
I was lucky enough to chat with the owner, Celestino Ramirez, this week. He can usually be found blending up something scrumptious behind the counter while laughing with his customers. Ramirez, of Edo Morelos, Mexico, opened for business at the 112 Nagle Avenue location a year and a half ago upon realizing that the neighborhood was lacking healthy food choices. Ramirez and his family have devoted themselves to Mango’s Paradise ever since. Three times a week, they schlep out to Hunts Point Food Distribution Center to buy only the freshest fruit on the market. Their efforts are evidenced in the finished products – which are consistently fresh, natural, and fairly priced. A “small” (which, downtown, might be considered a “large”) is $3.00, a medium is $4.00, and a large is $6.00.
Mango’s Paradise also offers freshly-made pastelitos, which come in all varieties. From chicken to catfish, from beef to cheese, Ramirez’s patrons are hooked. I’ve seen people order two or three and finish them before they get their change. (And the looks on their faces are priceless- they’re quite pleased!)