We want to do good. We do. But good and convenient have a way of playing for different teams, so we’re often forced to choose. And who are we kidding. Convenience is kind of a bully. Especially when you have kids, and your to-do list last clocked in at 1 million items (approximately – who had time to count?).
Finally, our good intentions come to LYFE.
A constant quest, the universal battle cry resounding from mothers far and wide: it’s dinner. They’re starving. It doesn’t matter that they have both their parents’ pickiness lurking in their DNA (sorry kids), and we’re running late and it’s almost bedtime. Everyone needs to eat. And now. Enter, LYFE Kitchen.
LYFE in the fast lane . . .
A welcome addition to the Culver culinary scene, LYFE Kitchen is skipping distance from Trader Joe’s. (Two birds, one stone: you can pick up snacks for tomorrow while you’re here). In fast food fashion (though the fare resembles nothing of the kind), order at the counter, easy. While dazzled by the floating mint leaves in their lemonade, (tres grown-up!) prepare to fall off your chair when your kid commandeers your Cucumber Mint Cooler (relax, it’s alcohol free). And try not to choke on your shishito pepper flatbread (be a shame to waste it, we’d return for this alone) – the children are spelunking for vegetables. Literally gorging on our beet and faro salad like it was a bag of Pirates Booty. (Was it the primary pop of colors? The chopped up accessibility? Explain this to us!!) What is happening here!!? Have your cameras ready. This is up there with the parting of the sea.
McNugget No More.
Pizza ravioli. We didn’t know what it was either. But it’s on the kids menu and the name alone had them nodding their heads “yes”. Apparently the brainiacs who built this place, former McDonald’s execs, know a thing or two about enticing our McOffspring. Tell them or don’t, there’s broccolini inside. Wash it down with a spiced cranberry hibiscus cooler (or order your own, but assume it will get hijacked). And fish tacos on a kid’s menu! Even if they’re not ready for fish yet, it’s presence does give hope. If that faro and beet bit is possible, nothing’s off the table. Still got one clamoring for the old chicken nugget stand-by? Go for it. It’s Gardein chicken served with agave ketchup. This place is foolproof.
Don’t expect your Apple Pie to arrive in a cardboard sleeve.
For dessert? Apple and quinoa crisp with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Pomegranate chia seed chocolate budino. Never has a neighboring Cold Stone mattered less. (True story).
No eater left behind.
There are those restaurants we drag them to and they barely touch their plate (money well spent). And those to which we concede and we can actually feel the by-products damaging their arteries (delightful). LYFE Kitchen is the celebration of neither. It’s cheery enough for them (don’t go expecting a ball pit, but the sunshiny energy and remarkably happy service is unmistakably welcoming) and sensationally satiable for us. But it gets better. An entire menu is dedicated to our gluten-free friends, and one for our vegan pals as well. Nuts are noted, calories are counted (everything’s this side of 600), all that’s left is for us to order and enjoy. Happy meals are here again. But this time, they don’t have to depress us.
So this is where you’ve been all our lyfe.
Listen, we’ll all be well into our golden years before we get a glimmer of how to balance this whole parenting business. But this place . . . it’s cheap (mains are $12-ish, sandwiches and smalls in the $7-$9 range), it’s so healthy (SO healthy), it gives us a leg up, one edamame at a time. Too bad they don’t have a drive through. You may never cook again.
– Written and photographed by Jolie Loeb