LYFE Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, I checked out Evanston’s newly opened LYFE Kitchen along with Mike and his parents.  

NOTE: This is NOT a Sponsored Post.

I had heard LYFE Kitchen was worth checking out for it’s plethora of healthy, vegan options.  Indeed, it was!  

Other than that, I had no idea what to expect but I was thrilled to find that they have a fast-casual approach and reasonable prices, so I can see myself going back quite often – which was exactly the restaurant’s intent:

LYFE Kitchen is committed to the idea that great-tasting food can also be good for you, affordable and convenient. With choices to please anyone, from flexitarian to vegetarian, omnivore to vegan, our celebrated chefs have developed a menu that is as delicious as it is inspiring. Using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible with the highest standards of quality and adhering to the highest level of socially responsible practices, LYFE Kitchen is creating a new category of lifestyle restaurant. 

LYFE stands for “Love Your Food Everyday”.  The chain, which began in Palo Alto, California in October 2011, is now beginning to spread across the country – including restaurants in Texas, Nevada, Colorado… and Chicago!  Chicago now has 2 LYFE Kitchen locations – River North which opened last Fall, and Evanston which opened just a few weeks ago.

 

LYFE locations as of June-2014
(images via lyfekitchen.com)

While I always get excited about healthy, vegan-friendly restaurants, I was especially eager to try the food here since the Executive Chefs, Tal Ronnen & Art Smith, have been making such big waves in the food world. 

Chefs Tal Ronnen & Art Smith
(Photo via lyfekitchen.com)

ART SMITH – EXECUTIVE CHEF

Chef Art was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years, and a celebrity chef on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Recently, he won accolades for losing 100 pounds through a balanced diet and exercise. His restaurant, Table Fifty-Two was voted one of Chicago’s top ten, and his non-profit Common Threads teaches nutrition and world culture to children in low-income areas. Chef Art’s latest book Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, is a New York Times Best Seller and features some of his great-tasting, good for you favorites from LYFE Kitchen. 

TAL RONNEN – VEGAN CONSULTING CHEF

Known for his groundbreaking plant-based culinary expertise, Chef Tal won nationwide acclaim as Oprah Winfrey’s chef during her 21-day vegetarian and vegan diet. He’s the former Executive Chef of Gardein, and his New York Times bestselling cookbook, The Conscious Cook, is on its third printing in 18 months. Chef Tal recently opened the acclaimed vegan restaurant Crossroads on Melrose in West Hollywood, California.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, the first thing that struck me was the fantastic design.  The Evanston location has a beautiful tree-filled outdoor patio.  The interior has floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings, and an overall very energizing vibe.

I also loved the inspirational quotes painted throughout the dining space, including the gem from the late Maya Angelou above.

Not only did LYFE Kitchen take great care with the look of the place – like their food, they paid great attention to the details and the sustainability of the materials – all of their restaurants are LEED-accredited.  They also use low-voltage lights, chemical-free paint, and use 100% recycled material for tabletops & chairs. 

Upon walking in the door, there is an array of menus to choose from – Vegan/Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, or Everything.  It was the perfect place to go with Mike’s family, since I prefer vegan, his Mom is gluten-free and all 4 of us are striving to eat healthy.

I should also mention that all LYFE Kitchen dishes contain fewer than 600 calories and 1,000 milligrams of sodium, with most choices containing much less.

It was, of course, very difficult to decide what to order.  In fact, there was so much that I wanted, I’ve already decided on what to order next time I go – the Hibiscus Beet LYFE Water & Chef Art’s Unfried “Chicken” (pictured below).

Art’s Unfried “Chicken”
(photo via lyfekitchen.com)

 

On this visit, Mike’s dad ordered the Cucumber Mint LYFE water and Mike and I shared the Orange Ginger Chia LYFE Water.  The Orange-Ginger flavor was so delicious – not too sweet, very bright, and with a gingery punch. I’ve been craving another glass ever since.

For my entree, I had the Vegan Kale Caesar Salad topped with Marinated Tofu.   I was especially impressed to see that the LYFE Caesar was much more than just leaves (yes, that’s the traditional way – but it’s also a total pet-peeve of mine!) – it also included Broccoli, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers.

I also had a few of the Sweet Potato fries we ordered for the table.  Though they were baked, they tasted just as good as their fried cousin.

 

Mike ordered the Fish Tacos (not pictured) but both of his parents ordered vegetarian!

His Dad had the Pizzadillawich which looked amazing – folded pizza stuffed with eggplant, peppers, onions, goat cheese mozzarella, and basil, served with pomodoro dunking sauce. 

 His Mom ordered the Quinoa Crunch Bowl with quinoa tabbouleh, avocado, veggies, and edamame hummus and they easily customized her order to leave off the hot sauce it normally includes. 

I’m pretty sure Mike’s parents are going to be regulars at the Evanston location.  They’ve already been there twice in two weeks.  If I lived closer, I would be a regular too!

Just for fun – we all were fascinated by LYFE’s water station.  I’ve never seen so many options for tap water before – Chilled, Chilled Sparkling, and Ambient.  It turns out that Ambient means room-temperature water.  You may find that odd, but I actually prefer my water luke-warm.  There must be plenty of other people out there that do too considering that a special spigot was created just for it!

 See you again real soon, LYFE Kitchen!

I’d love to hear from you!

How do you take your water? Chilled, Sparkling, or Ambient?

Have you heard of, or eaten at, LYFE Kitchen before?