I don’t get excited about food or restaurants in Palo Alto very often. Yes, my favorite sandwich place of all time is in Palo Alto (The Village Cheesehouse) and there is delicious Greek food at Evvia. Overall, I feel like the food scene in the Peninsula is really subpar compared to San Francisco. So when my friend Amy sent me an article about LYFE Kitchen at 167 N. Hamilton Ave., I was intrigued. The menu was developed by Top Chef Master Art Smith and vegan chef Tal Ronnen. LYFE Kitchen (Love Your Food Everyday) advertises no genetically modified food, no additives and nothing processed food all under 600 calories. I am not a nutritionist so I can’t fairly analyze how “healthy” everything on the menu is. I can judge taste though!
In lieu of probably sounding a little crazy, I ate at LYFE Kitchen three times this week– once for dinner, once for lunch and once for breakfast (all different days, I swear!). I just happened to be in Palo Alto a lot this week (it’s atypical) and there were a lot of things on the menu that I wanted to try. The restaurant is super casual; you order from a counter and then servers bring your food.
I first went to LYFE Kitchen with my friend Anne for dinner and I was starving out of my mind. I decided to order the unfried chicken, which was served on top of a bed of brussel sprouts, squash and cranberries. The chicken is breaded and comes with a sauce made from cashews. Anne ordered the mahi fish tacos and we split a BBQ chicken flatbread. While my chicken was cooked well (not dry) and the breading was crispy, it definitely lacked flavor. The sauce didn’t help the flavor situation and I actually ended up asking for hot sauce to jazz it up. The vegetables were delicious and they are also available as a side order. As part of the “healthy” offerings, LYFE’s food is lower in sodium. I think that’s the explanation as to why the chicken was lacking flavor.
I enjoyed Anne’s fish tacos a lot more. Served on corn tortillas with slaw and avocado, the fish tacos tasted light and fresh and the lime wedges were the perfect acidic complement. I LOVED the BBQ chicken flatbread. LYFE has three flatbreads and they’re made on whole wheat crusts with flaxseed. The flatbreads are thin and super crispy (even when they cooled down). I totally want to try out their other flatbreads (there’s a goat cheese and mushroom one and a margherita one).
After eating all this food, I was still hungry. The portions at LYFE aren’t huge and I think I wasn’t feeling as satisfied because the food isn’t actually that heavy. Side note: I should mention that I eat a lot in general. I can outeat my former six foot two and six foot four male co-workers. Many of my old co-workers think I have a tapeworm in my stomach. If you are a normal person, their portions may not seem that small.
I was contemplating ordering more food, but I was also lazy and didn’t feel like waiting in line again. To my very happy surprise, one of the servers asked if we wanted dessert and told us that he could place an order with their automated system! We could even swipe and pay with credit card right away.
I ordered a bowl of the corn chowder and Anne ordered the chocolate lava cake. The corn chowder was my second favorite thing that I ate that day. It’s not very thick or creamy because it’s made from cashew cream. There were small pieces of potatoes in the soup, which made it feel heartier. Anne liked her chocolate cake, but I was not a fan. How delicious can a “healthier” chocolate cake really taste? I’m guessing there was no butter in it, so it was really light and fluffy. I thought it lacked flavor. Go across the street to Fraiche Yogurt if you’re still jonesing for some dessert after your meal.
I went back to LYFE the next day for lunch and ordered the baked sweet potato fries, Gardein chicken sandwich and cucumber-mint cooler. The cucumber mint cooler was refreshing and not sweet, which I liked. The sweet potato fries came with homemade ketchup made with agave syrup. While not very crispy (because they’re baked not fried), I still found the fries to be tasty and they totally fulfilled my craving. The ketchup tastes like sweeter marinara sauce and doesn’t taste like your normal Heinz ketchup. I was SO impressed with the Gardein chicken sandwich. It’s fake chicken made from plant-based foods and LYFE advertised that is had the same authentic taste and consistency as real meat. I was VERY skeptical and completely blown away by how it really did taste like real chicken. It seriously had the same consistency of meat. I’ve never seen a veggie product like it before! The sandwich was served on warm multigrain bread and came with slaw, sweet pickles, tomatoes and lettuce. It was delicious and fresh (albeit a little small) and I loved the crunch of the fresh vegetables and slaw.
A couple days later, I had breakfast at LYFE and tried their whole wheat buttermilk pancakes and strawberry-banana smoothie. I was not a fan of the smoothie. I couldn’t taste any banana and the smoothie is made with grape juice. The grape juice overpowered the taste of everything else in my smoothie. Don’t order it. In terms of taste, the pancakes tasted pretty good and similar to normal pancakes, but the consistency was really off. They weren’t light and fluffy at all, but doughy and really chewy (almost like the batter wasn’t cooked all the way). I probably won’t be ordering those again. The guy next to me ordered the breakfast sandwich and that looked really promising.
Overall, I’m a fan of LYFE Kitchen. My sister even asked if I had a LYFE addiction problem after going three times in one week. What can I say? I just like to be really thorough when I review a restaurant. I am happy to have an option in my neighborhood that has great-tasting, fresh and healthy food.
I forgot to mention that LYFE also endorses eco-friendly and sustainable products. Their bathroom had this powdered soap that I had never seen before in my life and they used the ionator to clean their tables. And, so I end this blog post with pictures of the crazy light-up ionator.