Even if your hippie phase ended a long time ago, there’s a good chance you can still get down with a bowl of kale. So don’t be shy; stroll into Life Alive and let that ambiance—the colorful painted walls, Buddha paintings, and Papyrus font—channel your crunchy side.
But don’t be fooled: While the decor recalls a yoga studio (and most patrons do have a rolled-up mat slung over one shoulder), this bustling cafe is no place to seek quiet. That’s because it’s consistently slammed, with a line that wraps around the countertop and nearly spills into the street. As whitewashed, modern healthy bowl cafes have sprung up across town, this OG organic spot lives on, drawing crowds as eager for a vitamin fix as ever.
The line affords a front row seat to witness the magnitude of what’s being churned out. Busy employees flock to a fridge stocked with a rainbow of organic and GMO-free produce, grabbing whole carrots destined for the juicer or bananas headed for the blender. Someone whizzes by with a bin of piping-hot brown rice or overflowing steamed greens. It’s a testament to Life Alive’s commitment to simultaneously maximizing freshness, health, and convenience: A well-oiled vegetarian machine.
Every bowl or cup that passes seems to trigger an innate desire for nourishment. Some trend green, like the avocado, broccoli, and kale-topped The Green Goddess. Others are more like rainbows; The Adventurer juxtaposes its brassica with a mix of purple beets and yellow corn. While the produce steals the show, bases of brown rice or quinoa and occasional sprinkles of tofu or sprouted legumes ensure a filling meal. And carefully crafted blends—like the Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce or the Red Miso Broth that forms the base of The Udon Miso Masterful—provide the dose of umami that makes eating meat-free acceptable even to staunch carnivores. Whether it’s a wrap or a bowl, a smoothie or a juice, a meal at Life Alive feels like medicine, in the best way.
If the main floor at the Cambridge location is crowded, try finding space downstairs and cozy up with a good read from the bookshelf. When it’s nice outside, get takeout and head to the front lawn of Cambridge City Hall across the street.
Nearly all dishes can be easily customized with add-ins that cost up to $2 extra. They range from the familiar (egg, avocado, hummus) to the obscure (Nutri Flakes, a.k.a. nutritional yeast; Daiya, a.k.a. vegan cheese).
Chef Leah Dubois is also a cookbook author. She shares her wisdom-and recipes-in Raw Food for Everyone, which she co-wrote with raw food expert Alissa Cohen.
Tastes of Life Alive
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