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Lyfe Kitchen Chicago Review (Streeterville Opening)

I am sorry to be so behind on comments. You know how much it bothers me! Apparently, be careful what you ask for–>I am hair on fire busy!

hair on fire

Interested in healthy, gluten free, natural, and freaking delicious food and snacks?

  • Don’t miss out on my Jessica’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Granola and Organic GF Syrup Giveaway (2 winners) as well as use the code SUZLYFE now through 4/15 for $5 off your purchase!
  • Check out my post from yesterday introducing Daily Serving! Dietitian developed snacks and juices that check all the boxes, including taste!
  • And then read this post a) BECAUSE DUH and b) because it is full of more fantastic healthy (and not so healthy) dishes!

 As I shared yesterday, Alex’s bday didn’t go to plan, but to be honest, we both still ended up eating pretty darn well that night, even if we ate 2 hours apart! He didn’t get out of the hospital until 8:45, and by then the majority of our options (and the things that he was gunning for) were closed/closing/would’ve killed us if we had gone in there. But he (fine, AND I, you know I helped myself!) still enjoyed a fabulous burger (Irish cheddar, onion straws, lettuce, tomato, pretzel bun) and sweet potato fries (with that cucumber chipotle aioli) and a Two Brother’s Brewing Ebel’s Weiss at D4, one of our go-tos

d4 irish pub burger chicago

Definitely one of our favorite burgers in Chicago, if not period.

 My dinner was COMPLETELY different and absolutely delicious!

lyfe kitchen

Last year, I wrote a post about my favorite healthy and affordable places to eat in Chicago, and Lyfe Kitchen was one of the restaurants in that post. I would say that they stole the name from me, but I’m just going to say they (and I) have good taste πŸ˜€ At the time, Lyfe Kitchen was brand new to the downtown Chicago market and only had that one location in River North, but as of today, it has officially touched down with its second location in Streeterville! A bit about Lyfe, taken from my previous post:

lyfe kitchen river north

Executive chefs Art Smith (Oprah’s old personal chef, and a food celeb known for scrumptious home cookin’) and Tal Ronnen  (The Conscious Cook) created a menu that is seasonally driven with ingredients that are organic and local when possible, responsibly produced, and focused on flavor and nutrition. In fact, all dishes on the menu are under 600 calories! It just goes to show you that delicious food DOESN’T NEED ALL THAT EXTRA SH*T. When you use quality ingredients, you needn’t do anything to hide it. Quality and craftsmanship begets flavor, which is my food philosophy. Art’s Unfried Chicken accompanies baby kale salads and chocolate chip cookies (served warm)–so fear not, there are plenty of options for everyone!

BTW, totally vintage Suz post–at that point I’d been blogging for all of a month and some change! I was still a waitress and the Polar Vortex hadn’t even happened, lol. Check it (and some of the neighboring posts, too!)

Anyways, I still stand behind what I wrote then, and Lyfe Kitchen still stands behind that mission: to deliver food outstanding in mission, quality, and taste in an fast casual environment that treats you as if you are in a real restaurant, or even at home! Or, in their words: Modern, casual chain serving health-minded, globally inspired food made with local ingredients.

Well, if your home is a tastefully decorated testament to clean, contemporary, and almost zen-like design, you have a complimentary filtered still water (“ambient” or “chilled”) and chilled sparkling water on tap, people who clean up after you, and at the center of it all is a gorgeous indoor herb garden that puts many outdoor gardens to shame! 

 lyfe kitchen streeterville suzlyfe review herb garden

Seriously, who wouldn’t want that!

I experienced Lyfe Kitchen Streeterville as part of their “soft” opening. Essentially, they were making sure that machine was working and that staff was trained properly. But to be sure, I would have thought that they had been doing this for years! Each employee, or “Lyfer,” was incredibly friendly, highly knowledgeable, and absolutely professional. It took me some time to work through the menu as I hadn’t been to a Lyfe location in over a year and I just couldn’t decide! But one a few of the employees asked if I needed any help, were happy to offer up some of their favorite dishes, and knew the menu quite well. I made my decision, ordered at the counter, got my locater (so that they know where you are sitting and don’t just wander around!), picked up some sparkling water, chose my seat, and settled in to wait.

Love that their is a second floor that is also open to the first floor — the room feels airy, clean, and fresh, there is no feeling of being overcrowded, and there is a great variety of places to sit or work or what have you. I can’t wait to get a coffee and a Carrot-Zucchini-Walnut muffin (I used to get them at the River North location and OMG) and work, if I ever have the opportunity!

Now, more about the food! Here’s a glance at the menu. They actually provide 3 different menus: Everything, Gluten Free, and Vegan/Vegetarian. “Max” calories and sodium are listed subtly listed beneath the dishes as well. Dishes that can be made gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian are well marked in all menus. Even I want the garlic lime tofu!

barramundi soba noodle bowl lyfe kitchen review suzlyfe

I chose the Barramundi Noodle Bowl (sustainably raised seabass with soba noodles, mushrooms, scallions, edamame, in kimchi broth) and a simple greens side salad (which turned out to be anything but simple! Tomatoes, zucchini shreds, chives, carrots, lemon vinaigrette). Even though I had already had fish that day, one dish in particular caught my eye. I guess you could say it lured me in. heheh. And one bite and I was hooked. heheh. (I can’t help it)

 My dishes ended up being a little bit more expensive than I had originally planned on spending (I left some tip, and my meal was $20 exactly), but as I said on Instagram, it was worth the price, and I MUST note that I chose a more expensive item (the Barramundi), you are paying for quality and service as well!

Before long, I received my meal:

barramundi soba noodle bowl lyfe kitchen review suzlyfe

Remember that Panera Broth Bowl Review? Save the money, make my copycat version, and spend your hard earned deniros on this dish. All of my gripes from the Panera bowl were taken care of here: appropriately portioned noodles, a GIANT piece of nicely cooked fish, LOVED the kimchi, well balanced spices and heat level…. Goodness me. Fast casual restaurants should quake in their boots. Add to the fact that proteins can be subbed for Gluten free and vegan versions…. CHYEAH.

Now, I want to say that I have heard and have had mixed results with Lyfe Kitchen. There are some dishes there that are absolutely exceptional (the Barramundi Bowl, the Carrot Zucchini Walnut Muffin, the Egg and Turkey Sausage Sandwich from breakfast, and the Chicken and Kale soup (seasonal) are a few that come to mind), and there are some dishes that I have been “meh” about. But I think that is the nature of restaurants and food in general.

If you enjoy seasonal food where the ingredients are the star and the nonsense is taken out, if you have dietary restrictions but don’t want to be just a side thought, and if you want to have an exceptional experience in with out the frivolities, Lyfe Kitchen might fast become one of your favorite places.

Would you be interested in a restaurant like Lyfe? Is eating seasonally important to you?

If you are Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian, is it difficult to find restaurants where you aren’t just an afterthought?

What looks good to you on the menu? I’m eyeing the BBQ Chicken and seasonal Flatbreads, the Gardein Burger and Grass-Fed Burgers, Art’s Unfried Chicken (a signature dish of the restaurant), the Thai Red Curry Bowl, and the Sweet Potato Fries. To name a few, lol)

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  • Reply Brynn

    I am not a big red meat eater, but a grass fed steak or burger is so good. While I am not strict about eating seasonally, I do lean towards produce that is plentiful and at its peak because it is usually cheaper and tastes the best.
    Brynn recently posted…Best Travel Snacks + Giveaway!My Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 5:37 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I so, so agree. And I’m with you–I don’t eat beef a lot, but when you know that it is responsibly sourced, plus all the other ingredient considerations? Sold.

      April 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm
  • Reply Sam @ PancakeWarriors

    That is seriously a monster portion – love the idea of a noodle bowl with fish. I saw your pic on instagram – love the indoor garden! Glad Alex had a rockin burger for his bday!! That’s what he deserved!!
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors recently posted…Stuffed Portobello MushroomsMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 6:42 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It made me so happy when I saw how much fish I was getting. I want THAT to be the star! And that herb garden is evvvvverything πŸ˜€

      April 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm
  • Reply Jill

    Finding dairy free options when eating out is always a huge headache! I pretty much always have to ask for modifications to things on the menu which ends up making me feel like I’m high maintenance or a pain! Baltimore is starting to get some more vegan eateries but they’re slow in coming. And it’s even harder when I go back home for visits. But I think in general more restaurants are becoming aware of dietary concerns and adapting. I was super surprised that one if our fave Italian restaurants back home just started featuring vegan treats!
    Jill recently posted…Weekend Contemplations: On Being HumanMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 7:00 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is awesome! Dairy free can indeed be difficult–milk and cheese and BUTTER are everywhere in restaurants–I definitely know that. I love that there is more and more out there for everyone. Food is getting increasingly personal as well as delicious!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm
  • Reply Erica { }

    That place looks amazing!! I miss Chicago πŸ™
    As a vegetarian there are ZERO places here that have a lot of options for me. In Pensacola there were 2 vegetarian/vegan restaurants and anytime I went in I felt like I was in heaven. Being able to order ANYTHING OFF THE MENU?! Crazy talk.
    Erica { } recently posted…Timex Ironman OneGPS+ ReviewMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 7:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Good gravy, don’t get greedy.
      Also that was alot of alliteration. Jeez I did it again. Stopping now.

      April 1, 2015 at 7:25 pm
  • Reply Amber

    Love how you rolled with the punches for Alex’s birthday, his burger looks bomb. As for LYFE, it looks AMAZING and totally up my alley, for many reasons. I typically refrain from going out to eat, because a lot of places around here have a GF menu, that is not Celiac Safe…one place it even says “please check your meal for gluten before eating” UHM YOU CAN’T SEE A CRUMB. SO, yes, I typically feel like I am an after thought, and am told “have a salad”. I don’t want a salad, I am not a rabbit!

    Side note – my comment luv isn’t working, any idea why it won’t show up on your blog?

    April 1, 2015 at 7:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Excuse me? Gluten free but they don’t care about contamination? That’s like saying, we take out the trash but don’t use anti-bacterial cleaners (so there might be some rat footprints). UM NO.
      That is so weird about the Comment Luv not working. I’ll see if I can retroactively do it.

      April 1, 2015 at 7:21 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    That burger looks perfect. And now I want one. I am actually making burgers tonight but I have a feeling it won’t be anything like that. Could you mail me a pretzel bun, maybe?
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…When You Want To Blog But Don’t Feel Like Thinking…My Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 7:57 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      God I love pretzel buns. They are the bomb dot com KaBOOM

      April 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    This looks so fun. I will definitely have to check it out this spring/summer when I am back in town. I honestly lean towards restaurants where the entire menu is more fresh, local, and healthy. It makes my choices so much easier and I feel a heck of a lot better about myself. Last year when we were in Florida we found a place like this and it was all I could think about when we headed back there this year!
    Sarah recently posted…First Trimester Pregnancy RunningMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 8:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Me too, definitely–and I love that they are like, LET THE FOOD TALK FOR ITSELF
      PS, I”m always down for a lunch date πŸ˜€

      April 1, 2015 at 7:23 pm
  • Reply Pragati // Simple Medicine

    as a vegetarian, yes…it’s super frustrating to not find good options to eat. I’m so sick of “standard” vegetarian fare being a shitty black bean burger on a whole wheat bun with a salad. Just because I choose not to eat meat does not mean I don’t want a regular bun, or hell, even fries! This is a serious pet peeve of mine (is it obvious?) πŸ˜›
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…Our Wedding CeremonyMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 8:10 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      hahaha but with good reason! And HOW BAD is a bad black bean burger. BLEGH

      April 1, 2015 at 7:19 pm
  • Reply Annmarie

    When I initially read the title I thought you were going to start a segment with what recipes you were whipping up in your kitchen- they totally stole it from you πŸ˜› It does look really yummy there though- I’d love to go next time I’m in Chicago!
    Annmarie recently posted…Wild Workout Wednesday: No Foolin’ Around! #RockYourCore, DVRT + MoreMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 8:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      OMG you are genius. But then I would get imbroiled in a silly trademark war. SIGH

      April 1, 2015 at 7:18 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    I saw those Panera bowls the other day and thinking they looked good. I guess they are easy to replicate! Glad you and Alex had a nice evening anyways.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…April Rock Your Core Challenge Is Here!My Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 8:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, all you need is my copycat recipe! But this was so far superior in every aspect!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:18 pm
  • Reply meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles

    I had sampled Lyfe Kitchen meals at a healthy living event a year or so ago! So good!
    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…What I Ate YesterdayMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 9:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I saw their Brussels Sprouts go by and thought of you πŸ˜€

      April 1, 2015 at 7:17 pm
  • Reply Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants

    My favorite foods are those that are always in season…like pizza πŸ˜‰ Haha, in all seriousness, I do enjoy eating seasonally, especially during the summer months when I can go to Farmer’s Markets!
    Kate @ Baking in Yoga Pants recently posted…2015 Workout PlaylistMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 9:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Summer produce and farmers markets are made of magic. And pizza is seasonal my dear πŸ˜€ like squashes and beets during the winter and Margherita during the summer! OH I can’t wait!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:17 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    The Farmer’s Market salad looks so yummy! And the Kale Ceasar is brilliant. I totally sneak in a few spinach and kale leaves whenever I make ceasar salad around these parts! The kids don’t notice. Muahahaha.
    Suzy recently posted…Woozy Wednesday: Liver for LustreMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 9:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SUCKERS Cruel to be kind? lol

      April 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm
  • Reply Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    That burger really does look incredible. I have been thinking about it ever since you posted it on instagram. yes, ALL my thoughts have been about that burger.
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy recently posted…Comment on Slow Cooked BBQ Chicken by DanniiMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 10:30 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      bahahah You know I love haunting your dreams!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    That burger looks so good! Pretzel buns, sweet potato fries, and beer sound absolutely heavenly. And now I know what I want to splurge on after my race…
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Oatmeal Blueberry Chocolate Chip MuffinsMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 11:02 am
    • Reply suzlyfe


      April 1, 2015 at 7:15 pm
  • Reply Erin @ Erin's Inside Job

    I need to give them another chance after I was let down with my dry chicken breast. I definitely covet their herb garden and Neil actually asked our contractor if he knew how to build such a thing. This was welcomed by weird looks, so alas no indoor herb garden. I love that they have a second floor too. We must eat there sometime.
    Erin @ Erin’s Inside Job recently posted…How To Get A Fitness Job With No ExperienceMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 11:37 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Done. We’ll getchu something good. But that also means that we have to switch from Naf Naf, which is a tall, tall order.

      April 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm
  • Reply Beth @ Running with the Sunrise

    Lyfe Kitchen sounds amazing. (Why do I live out in the suburbs?) Love restaurants that use fresh food that’s sustainably harvested. I’m also super picky about what fish I eat in terms of how eco friendly it is, so I’d love this place, I think. And I need to get that herb garden in my house right now.
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…Wordless Wednesday #18My Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Get youchoself here and we’ll go on a date πŸ˜€

      April 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm
  • Reply Rae

    Mmm that place looks delish! Eating seasonally isn’t something I really focus on, but I’m always happy when I choose seasonal items because they taste so fresh.
    Rae recently posted…My Running FavoritesMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Totally agree. Hello, I like to eat what I want to eat when I do, but isn’t it lovely to eat a fresh, ripe, seasonal what-have-you?

      April 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm
  • Reply Anna @ Piper's Run

    My husband is vegan so we find it hard to go find restaurants that serve food he can eat. There are some specific vegan restaurants we go to and they are so worth it! I try hard to eat seasonal food but sometimes it can be hard.
    Anna @ Piper’s Run recently posted…A Little Confidence BoosterMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 1:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      For certain. I can imagine it would be super difficult for you two to find that middle ground!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Courtney @ Running For Cupcakes

    I love that they have a vegan/vegetarian menu. When I go out with friends I never want to seem high maintenance so I always go wherever they want to, but I usually end up ordering a salad and veggies off the sides menu.
    Courtney @ Running For Cupcakes recently posted…Coast-to-Coast Challenge: A Digital StoryMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, you know how much I know what you mean–I never want to be trouble either, but when you have dietary restrictions (by choice or absolute necessity!) it is great to have a place that honors that need.

      April 1, 2015 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Love this!!! I would really like a place like this on my side of Asheville!
    Asheville is VERY vegetarian friendly, so I never have to worry about what I will eat. It is so nice and one of the first reasons I feel in love with this place.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…6 Ways to Workout for Free {Video}My Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is awesome that Asheville is so veg friendly. That might be a great market for them to expand to, in that case!

      April 1, 2015 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply Mattie @ Comfy & Confident

    I don’t necessarily seek out restaurants that serve seasonally appropriate food, but if I have the opportunity, I jump at it. It’s always good to eat food that is in season and didn’t travel a million miles to get to you.
    Mattie @ Comfy & Confident recently posted…Back Bay ChoppedMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply

    Still drooling over that burger!

    And btw, I still think they’re fish tanks πŸ˜‰ recently posted…Sweet Potato, Goats Cheese and Couscous SaladMy Profile

    April 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think that the same could be said of many of the all glass apartments over here!

      April 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm
  • Reply Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together

    I want to be like “I’m so jealous I want a Lyfekitchen” but I live in SF… but still, the Chicago food scene is almost as good I think! I need to come visit this summer πŸ™‚
    Cassie @ Almost Getting it Together recently posted…Chicken Adobe Burrito Bowl with Roast PlantainsMy Profile

    April 2, 2015 at 1:29 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      True, but we don’t have to wait 2 hours for brunch πŸ˜€

      April 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ ihadabiglunch

    You two are awesome the way you work so hard to spend time together, even when life throws so many wrenches in your plan.

    I need to try Lyfe Kitchen! How have I not been there yet?!
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…So, that happened #100milemarchMy Profile

    April 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, the River North one would be quite a ways from you, I imagine, but now there is just one to the south of your work!

      April 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm
  • Reply Jess @hellotofit

    Ooo a restaurant like Lyfe in my life would be awesome!! I’m not too good about eating seasonally when it comes to fruits (strawberries all year round, oops), but as far as veggies go, I try to πŸ™‚ And, um…that PRETZEL bun!!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Recipe of the week: cherry chocolate chip energy ballsMy Profile

    April 3, 2015 at 10:39 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, there are worse things you could get year round lol. ANd HELL YES to pretzel buns! They are everrrrrything. I miss the farmer’s market in Cville!

      April 5, 2015 at 8:39 am

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