boba guys

boba but make it hip

California, or rather, the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles, probably have the greatest concentration of boba shops outside of Asia. Most of the many many boba tea shop chains from Taiwan land here first, and a lot of them thrive here, often even as they fall out of popularity back in the motherland. The boba shop market landscape is dominated by generations of imported chains with occasional one of local shops here and there. Which is why Boba Guys stands out: a homegrown boba chain and by and for Asian Americans, the next generation of consumer looking not just for nostalgia and authenticity but new classics that riff on traditional flavors like a third wave coffee shop.

Boba Guys defies the traditional boba shop format, and in doing so has a broader consumer appeal beyond the Asian American community, opening up locations outside of traditional Asian enclaves. There aren’t dozens of choices, there are a curated selection of drinks with plant-based milk options. Their signature drinks range from tea based (classic black green and oolong milk teas to matcha, hojicha and chai), to coffee based, to creative combinations like pumpkin spice horchata, dirty banana milk and ube latte. Rather than the classic plastic cup seal they have the standard drink lids and sustainable bamboo fiber straws. In form and substance, its holds a familiar allure, almost like the Alfred of boba shops. It feels distinctly Californian, like you can taste the Bay Area entrepreneurial ethos, and they have the merch line for it. A decade since its founding, Boba Guys has catapulted boba baes to mainstream food culture.

the details

Address Locations listed here
Instagram @bobaguys
Hours varies by location, most open at 10 or 11am and close between 6 and 8pm
Price $$-$$$, a bit pricier than your typical boba, $6-7+
Aesthetic deliberately hipster branded, just look at the aardvark logo

good to know

Go here for: a cold sweet treat, you deserve it

Order this: strawberry matcha latte, hojicha black sugar latte, black sesame latte

Amount of time to spend: 10 minutes for a quick pit stop, but sometimes on a hot weekend afternoon it is too crowded

When to come: weekday late afternoons or evenings are probably the best bet to avoid long lines

Parking (LA): 

  • Noho: this location is in the worst part of Noho, aka the commercial district where all the popular spots are so good luck getting a meter
  • Rampart Village: there isn’t much around here so it is generally pretty easy to find a meter on the street or free street parking around the corner.
  • Culver: this location is in the Platform which means parking is not fun unless you’re very lucky. The parking garage doesn’t have any free validation and is generally full. The meters are usually taken but if you’re lucky you can snag a few minutes at one of the pick up meters.

Other things to note: 

  • They also sell boba kits for people looking to work for their boba fix.
  • You can order ahead online for pick up (or through Doordash).

Last visited: February 2022

Last updated: February 2022

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