One of my new favorite eateries is LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto. With the exception of Oren’s Hummus Shop (which does indeed have excellent hummus as well as tender grilled meat), the offerings on University Avenue are typically overpriced and mediocre – all show and no substance. Thus my surprise at finding LYFE Kitchen (LYFE = “Love Your Food Everyday”). I had first walked by on my way elsewhere and was intrigued by the long line out the door at 11:45 a.m. (not even really lunch time!). Being the lemming that I am, I immediately got in line and studied the place. The exterior is rather unassuming, and I probably would not have noticed without the crowd. Having inadvertently left my phone in the car that day, I hesitated outside for a moment, but decided to venture in without the benefit of any online research or Yelp reviews (gasp!).
The interior is bright and welcoming, with high ceilings and beautiful (reclaimed?) wooden tables. I especially loved the floating shelves of herbs that double as a room divider. I really want one at home!
I figured out eventually that this is a cafe opened by Art Smith (best known as Oprah’s one-time personal chef) since his cookbooks were on display here. Apparently he has a partner too (Tal Ronnen, author of “The Conscious Chef”). My first visit here, I had ordered the “un-fried chicken,” a healthier option for Southern comfort food lovers, and that dish got me hooked. Today, I opted for the portobello mushroom pasta, which was every bit as delicious as it smelled.
The great thing about this cafe is that on each of the three menus (regular, vegan or gluten-free), calorie information for all the items – entrees, desserts, drinks – were on display. It really helps with good decision-making! I also always get the “Lyfe Water,” which is a refreshing blend of ginger, lime, strawberries and mint with chia seeds (something my friend Ms. Sunshine insists is one of those super foods). At least it tastes good (like mini tapiocas) and has barely any calories.
This has become one of my weekly indulgences when I run errands down in South Bay (since I’m not working these days, I try not to eat out too often). Not only do I support their vision of sourcing locally and sustainably, but delicious and healthy is a combination that’s hard to beat. I hope they stick around.
167 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Postcript: I took AK here for a late lunch this following Saturday and it was a little bit of a bust. The “unfried chicken” was tired and soggy, and even the sweet potatoes fries were unappetizing. Really hope this is just a one-time thing! (Also a bit bummed b/c I was hoping AK would like it more.)