Living in the suburbs the past year has had its ups and downs.
Aside from the complete demolition of my social life, another aspect that has suffered is my taste buds.
How many sub shops can possibly be placed within a two mile radius, you ask? As Cady Heron would say, the limit does not exist.
If I never see another greasy sub or crappy iceberg lettuce salad in my life, I’ll be a happy gal.
That’s why I’m so thankful to be so close to Life Alive.
Life Alive is a cafe that serves organic, locally grown foods. The menu is mostly vegan, which scares some people off. But I promise I’m no earthy-crunchy person, and this is pretty much my favorite place ever. I’m eternally grateful to my brother’s girlfriend Katie for introducing me to it a couple of summers ago!
There are three Life Alive locations in Massachusetts: Salem, Cambridge, and Lowell. I’m by far the closest to the downtown Lowell location, so that’s the only one I’ve been to. The cafe is located in a brick building covered with greenery – Madeline style. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a vibrant mural on the wall. On certain nights you enter to a wave of live music coming from the small stage by the entrance. The smell of incense wafts into your nose, and the delicate lighting relaxes you right away.
You won’t find the decor anywhere else. That’s because most of it is handmade. The tables and chairs are decoupaged with unexpected images. Most of the signs and art on the walls are hand-painted. The bathroom is essentially a greenhouse. That’s right, the bathroom. It even has a tub filled with overflowing plants.
I’ll admit that I was a little thrown the first time I went. The array of all-natural products lining the shelves to the left of the counter seemed foreign to me. Bags of ‘coffee’ made with dandelions? Organic laundry detergent? Hemp protein? I told myself that I didn’t really fit in.
But then you meet the staff. They are the nicest bunch of employees you’ll encounter during your day, that’s for sure. They are all so friendly and knowledgable about all of the food and products offered. I was completely overwhelmed by the extensive menu when I first started going to Life Alive, but the employees were quick to offer recommendations to my indecisive self.
The menu consists of grain-based meals (served as bowls, in a wrap, or half portions), salads, grilled wraps, snacks, soups, and sides. As for beverage choices, there are smoothies, fresh juices, teas, and lattes. The options are endless…yet I order the same thing every time.
The first several months of my Life Alive groupie status, I constantly ordered “The Rebel,” which is a quinoa and brown rice bowl filled with a variety of bright veggies. However, it didn’t take too long before I switched to the “Green Goddess” bowl, and I haven’t been able to stray from it since. It’s a brown rice bowl topped with – you guessed it – green veggies. The key to these dishes, besides the amazingly fresh ingredients, is the SAUCE. I can’t rave enough about it. All of the dishes have a different blend of sauces, but the “Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce” is the reason I haven’t been able to give up the Green Goddess. If crack was organic, I would swear that it was a main ingredient.
I’ve tried a few other meals here and there, and I can honestly say I’ve never been disappointed. I’m just the type that will order the same thing over and over until I get sick of it. Why fix what isn’t broken, right?
I do switch up my smoothie choices, though. My favorites are obviously the sweet ones: the Elvis Alive (chocolate and peanut butter, duh) and the Chai Alive. I don’t even feel guilty drinking an ice-cream-laden concoction, because the “ice cream” is coconut milk based. The fruity smoothies are amazing too though, for you normal folk.
Considering Life Alive has no idea I’m writing this blog, you can trust my glowing review. Or just check my Twitter, where I constantly profess my love for the cafe. (And they usually tweet back!) One time I even vented via Twitter that someone forgot to include the extra sauce in my to-go order, and they requested that I call my location so they could do something extra for me next time. I didn’t call, because they’re just so freaking nice.
The food is colorful, the employees are colorful, and the decor is colorful. And their motto is “Live Life Alive.” Is there a better match for my Life in Color?
I hope some of you will check out one of the three Life Alive locations if you haven’t already! What’s better than delicious, addictive, filling food? Oh, right. Food that’s good for your body and good for the planet.
Take that, sub shop around the corner.