What should I eat for lunch? This is the question that plagues New Yorkers, most of whom are faced with the wafting cooking smells of food trucks, fried foods, and a plethora of unhealthy items that are incredibly tempting as 12:00 draws near. Enter Lyfe Kitchen: the small (but growing) West Coast-based chain of semi quick-serve restaurants that are committed to serving healthy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each menu item is under 600 calories and 1,000 mg of sodium, and now the chain is finally coming to New York. We got a sneak-peak at the delicious food at the space on West 55th Street, which will be opening Thanksgiving weekend.
Lyfe Kitchen's un-fried chicken dish.
“We are all about great-tasting, good-for-you foods, but we don’t like to overhype healthy side; it’s all about flavor,” said executive chef Jeremy Bringardner. “We’re not trying to serve a bed of lettuce with some seaweed on top. We want to re-create the classics, but in a nutritionally responsible way. It’s a delicate balance.”
This delicate balance has led to a menu full of unusual foods and drinks on the menu that vary across multiple cultural palates, including Asian, Mexican, Italian, and Southern American, much of which is vegan or “plant-based,” as the menu section indicates. And Bringardner has his own way of making classic recipes healthier. The fried chicken? It’s actually topped with breadcrumbs and baked, not deep-fried in cooking oil, and served on a bed of Brussels sprouts. The fish tacos? They’re topped with grilled Mahi Mahi and loaded with vegetables. The salads are packed with a variety of greenery and served with housemade dressing, which Bringardner says helps keep sugar out of their salad options. Amazingly, even the burger squeaks by at 579 calories (we’re thinking it’s the oatmeal bun that kept the calories down on that one).
Lyfe Kitchen's mahi tacos with avocado, slaw, and house-made salsa.
Even the drinks, which are trickier to keep low-calorie without sacrificing taste, don’t rely on empty calories. You won’t find soda at this two-story, airy restaurant space. Instead, most people will order tea, lemonade, or what they call “Lyfe Water,” made with half-juice, half-water, and topped with herbs and chia seeds.
“There are enough people in every city that need that food option that tastes great and is good for you,” said Bringardner. “We know there are other companies doing this, but we want to get out there first to lead the food revolution.”
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi