20 in 20: Restaurant Rundown – Life Alive

I have an inner vegetarian/vegan, and it lives for Life Alive in Lowell, MA.  The first time I visited the restaurant was 9 years ago, and it was suggested to a group of us teachers during a workshop in downtown Lowell.  We walked over, not knowing what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the restaurant.

Yum

Yum

It was a hippified, colorful hideaway, nestled in a corner of the industrial city. Eclectic, garish, with a touch of urban, I felt right at home in a place whose outer décor matched my inner self.  I peered around and saw coconut water, locally made, natural sodas, herbal remedies, books on holistic lifestyles, plants galore, colors, colors, and more colors, and I absorbed every element of the experience.

Just a glimpse

Just a glimpse

Then came the menu.  What to do?  There were dishes with quinoa, tofu, vegetables of all sorts, and sauces… the sauces!  Most of them I barely recognized!  I knew I wanted to try them all.  My first time around, I played it safe and ordered the Goddess, which is one of their signature dishes.  When it finally arrived, I took one little bite, and I was hooked.  The blend of vegetables, Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce, over brown rice was like an explosion of vegetarian excitement to my taste buds!

This was the start of something good.

Later that school year, I decided to treat myself to an end-of-school-year Life Alive meal, and tried out The Lover, and it was easily the best, most yummiest dish on their menu!  The meaty shiitake mushrooms, cooked to a juicy perfection, in a messy, romanic bowl of yummy goodness… Each bite was better than the last, and again, Life Alive hooked me.

Each school year, I’d stop by a few times and order something new, but I always kept my favorites on which I could fall back.  At one point, I was riding around Boston with a friend, and we were both living in the local area, when I decided to tell her about Life Alive and how much she would love it.  I commented that Cambridge would be the perfect location for another store.  Later on that day, we pulled down a street in Central Square and on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and awesomeness was a store under construction.  The sign?  LIFE ALIVE!!!!  Complete kismet, and it made visiting my favorite vegetarian restaurant in the summer a whole lot easier.

Since discovering this local gem, I have tried recreating some of their dishes at home, to only some avail.  It will never be the same, but I’m hopeful that they will see the novelty in having a location out in Denver… It could happen.

My element

In my element

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