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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Now you can eat at LYFE Kitchen and Love Your Food Everyday in Southern CA

So, what's a restaurant super fan to do when her favorite restaurant opens their second location 340 miles away? Get in her car and drive down to the new LYFE Kitchen in Culver City, CA! Of course.

But where is it exactly? It's at 9540 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232.

Here are a few landmarks you may know. LYFE Kitchen is almost next door to the Pacific Theatres, within two blocks of Culver City's City Hall, and four blocks down Washington Blvd. from Sony Pictures Studios.

As you drive down the street it looks like this. There isn't any street parking out front but there is just around the corner and down the street along with parking lots and garages. There's even valet parking (offered through the city) at night for $6.50. The valet stand was positioned right between the restaurant and the Coldstone Creamery next door.

Out front newly planted Swiss chard and rosemary plants greeted us. I was there with hubby to meet up with my Uncle and two of my cousins for dinner. They live in the L.A. area so while we were in town it seemed only natural to introduce them to my fav eatery. I would have taken their pictures and added them to this post but, like my mom and I, they hate to have their pictures taken too. It must be genetic.

Walk inside and you'll spot the same vertical herb garden as the one in Palo Alto, their flagship location.

The menu is locally sourced which is good for local growers and the environment cutting down on both the time it takes to get fresh produce from the farm to your plate and the carbon footprint that's created when products are transported from far away locations instead of the closest ones.

Though both buildings are LEED-certified, one of the first things I noticed is that the Culver City location is larger than its counterpart in Palo Alto. Many of the building materials at both locations are eco-friendly using LED lights and sustainable materials like bamboo and repurposed materials and objects. You can read an in-depth blog post about just how eco-friendly LYFE Kitchen is in this blog post on the Palo Alto Patch website.

The new restaurant also has this cool hydroponic micro greens wall art piece. It's a veritable living quilt of greens you can eat.

Place your order at the counter (using a printed Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Gluten-free, or Vegan menu). The menu was designed by Chefs Art Smith and Tal Ronnen. I've had the opportunity to meet Chef Ronnen through LYFE Kitchen at their Palo Alto fork lifting ceremony, at a cooking demo, and at a private vegan press dinner.

Where to sit? There are four distinct dining areas to choose from:

1. There's the outdoor patio out front.

2. The interior front dining room that has a community table and standard chairs and tables good for small and large groups and families with kids.

There's a mini lounge type area for single diners or small groups who just want an appetizer or dessert with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

And in the rear of the building a cozy dining area with padded chairs.

Before choosing your seat be sure to pick up your flatware, napkins, and a glass of water at the self serve station to the right of the front counter. To me, this is an eco-friendly idea because you only take what you need. Same with water. The serve yourself concept creates far less waste.

Once at your table you can kick back and relax chatting with your dining companion(s). A server will bring your food to you using the GPS locator you set on your table. There aren't any names or numbers over a loud speaker or buzzing or vibrating devices. Very classy.

And what did I order that evening? Since it was a new restaurant I wanted to try something new that I hadn't had before. So, even though I don't like squash, I ordered the Kabocha Squash Risotto ($8.99) made with farro, kale, carrot and broccolini. At 476 calories (all of LYFE Kitchen's menu items are less than 600 calories) and 813 grams of sodium it really was a perfect meal. And I really liked it! Liked it enough to order it again the next time I go back and to want to learn how to make it at home.

Their food is so much healthier than what you'll find in most restaurants. Nothing is deep fried, there's no butter, refined sugar, white flour, and everything is preservative free. All of their dishes are 600 calories or less which also means their portions aren't super-sized.  It's a great reminder of how portions used to be before restaurants tried to outdo each other with the super large portions that have compromised the health of Americans in so many ways.

After dinner I took this picture of the restaurant all lit up while everyone else grabbed some dessert next door.

While spending more time visiting with my family we noticed a line had formed. They were busy!

As the evening wore on the line turned over several times. We had eaten at 6:00 when there was only a short line. Around 7:00 was definitely when the dinner rush hit but don't worry, the line moves very quickly. Having only been open for a week I can't tell you how thrilled I was that the restaurant was already this popular. It looks like L.A. was waiting for wholesome, affordable food.

While taking one of the outdoor shots I heard a little boy who couldn't have been more than four years old tell his folks "This is the only place we're eating at tonight!" LOL. They already have loyal fans from the next generation. Definitely a good thing.

And even though I hate having my picture taken, just to prove I was there, I posed for this shot. And full disclosure, we were in town to attend a friend's wedding near Pasadena so how could we not make the 19 miles (each way) drive down to Culver CIty? I couldn't think of a reason not to :)

Now with two locations to serve you:

Southern California
LYFE Kitchen - website
9540 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Northern California
LYFE Kitchen - website
167 N. Hamilton
Palo Alto, CA

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