By Katy Harrison

On a recent trip to Charleston, SC, my search for healthy food led me drag my friends on a mile-and-a-half walk to find Dell’z Vibez, a juice bar that a few people loved and no one else seemed to know existed.  When we arrived, I looked into this tiny shop with only a few bar stools and what looked like sophisticated finger painting on the window, and it suddenly hit me that this place might not be well-suited for my 6-months pregnant and starving friend.

Hoping for the best, we seated ourselves on the hard bar stools and ordered a few different fruit-and-veggie smoothies, my group marveling over the array of unique blends the menu offered while I searched my phone diligently for a place to have lunch afterward – the guilt of dragging my friends so far for juice was setting in, although they didn’t seem to mind.  That guilt was quickly swept away when I tasted my “halla berry” smoothie, sweet, supple, and loaded with berries and vegetables alike.  Then, in walked two girls with to-go orders from another restaurant in hand, and the sprightly young woman behind the bar informed us that the delicious-smelling concoctions came from “my mom’s place, around the corner and two doors down.”

We ventured a few steps to Dell’z Deli, a remarkably cozy spot considering this Rastafarian-looking joint’s size gave meaning to the phrase “hole in the wall.”  I ordered the “tummy yummy mahi mahi,” anticipating a standard mahi wrap, but I got more and more excited as I noticed that everyone who came in had ordered carryout in advance, and they all seemed to know the proprietress.  These patrons ate here multiple times each week, and a few grabbed their to-go orders and said, “I’ll see you again tonight, Dell.”  I suddenly began to understand this loyalty when Dell placed before me a fresh, healthy mahi wrap with flavor that put even the world’s most the most delicious, cheesiest burrito to shame.  Loaded with fish, brown rice, black beans, fresh mango pineapple salsa, a smidge of a light, spicy sour cream, avocado, liquid amino acids, and field greens, I still don’t understand how this meal was so delicious, but it was perfect, fresh, and so filling that I took the entire second half home as leftovers.

Before flying home the next day, we lamented that Dell’z wasn’t open on Sundays; even the delicious seafood of this charming coastal town was no match for the slice of heaven we’d found carved into a wall just a few blocks outside of the heart of downtown Charleston.  In a couple of months, Dell will debut her newest treasure, Dell’z Uptown, an actual sit-down restaurant in an outlying area of Charleston.  My group is already dreaming of a trip back to try this new location and enjoy good juice and food at the current ones; we’re hoping that, with a bigger kitchen in the new restaurant, we can talk Dell into giving us cooking lessons.