In the warmer weather, the Delaware Park loop feels more like a slice of urban life than some of the city’s more popular streets. The park bustles with strolling families and couples, exercising friends, club teams, little league and everyone between. Ashker’s in the Park captures everyone’s attention as a stand that has -- brace for it -- free water.
Yes, Ashker’s free water, a sort-of unnecessarily fancy, fresh fruit and herb-filled “kangen” water, purified and without “harmful chemicals,” saves park-goers from using the rusty, public fountains.
On a recent afternoon, Ashker’s was giving away cucumber basil and orange lemon lime kangen water, served in typical baby shower fashion, in giant mason jars with spigots.
While the part-charitable-act and part-smart-marketing-ploy water might be the first thing spotted on a sweltering day of exercise, the smoothies come next.
The rustic, ring-shaped stand emblazons the menu in bold lettered signs: cold press juice, smoothies and salads & sandwiches.
Choose between 18 smoothies. Some are combinations of fruits ($4), others fruits and veggies ($6) and some are fruit, veggie and supplements like hemp, walnuts, matcha, protein, chia seeds ($7).
The Basil & Blue (basil, lemon, blueberry, pineapple and peach) is a brown concoction that tasted better than it looked. Golden Heat (peach, mango, pineapple, ginger, golden beet, turmeric and cayenne) is a bright yellow drink that looked a bit better than it tasted, but was still refreshing.
For a lighter drink, Ashker's cold-pressed juices ($6) offer similar flavors. Watermelon Splash is my favorite. Refreshing watermelon and cucumber is evened out by tangy pineapple, apple, lemon and beet. Cold brew coffee, lemonade and tea are also available.
The lunch menu here is understandably more limited than other Ashker’s locations. All items are vegetarian or vegan. Interchangeable combinations of vegetables, legumes, hummus and different dressings compose the seven wraps, sandwiches and salads (each $7).
For breakfast, look for typical healthy food options. Oats with maple syrup and trail mix ($4 or $6), a loaded marathon muffin (lentil burger, spinach, tomato, sprouts, cashew cream and pesto on an English muffin for $5), parfaits ($5), granola ($1) and scones ($3).
After ordering from the extremely healthy item, sit under the open gazebo, shaded by mammoth trees and people watch all the Delaware Park exercisers and feel OK about yourself because you’re as healthy as they are, with your chia-seed-fortified, kale smoothie.
Ashker’s in the Park
Meadow Drive and Nottingham Terrace in Delaware Park
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Bet you didn’t know: You can rent basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, badminton sets, tennis sets from them for free by using your keys or ID for collateral.