My husband and I were driving and driving, going around in circles in this busy city where old narrow cobblestone streets were lined with parked cars and people. There were tall buildings made of old historical stone and brick with store fronts that had green awnings and empty flower boxes waiting to be filled with summer blooms, and other buildings that were more modern and occupied by banks and law offices.
I was sitting in the passenger’s seat holding my GPS, stretching to see the numbers on the buildings as we drove by. The woman’s voice coming from my GPS told us to turn right and then we will have reached our destination. Both of us were a bit confused because we did not see the round sign with the brightly colored logo, so we decided to park the car, fill up the meter, and look for it on foot. We stopped in a little chocolate candy store and asked the young gentleman behind the counter if he had heard of this café. He replied saying, “Oh yes great place, it is down the block and around the corner on your right.” After running a half marathon that morning in NH, we were a bit hungry and both of our stomachs were making those all too familiar hunger pangs, so were anxious to find it.
I found this quaint little vegan café in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts just outside of NH, called Life Alive on HappyCow. Now, there is no shortage of franchise restaurants, steak houses, seafood shacks, Chinese buffets, fast food drive thru’s, donut and coffee stops, bakeries, ice cream parlors, and many other different cuisines all over the country. Being a vegan can be a challenge when looking for a good healthy place to eat, so when I find one I want to share my experience with you.
Before traveling to NH, I had visited Life Alive’s website to look at the menu and see what kind of food was offered. There is a wide variety of choices on the menu from hot dishes, many salads and wraps, herbal teas, freshly made juices and smoothies. There are beautiful pictures and detailed descriptions of each dish. All the dishes are made to order with fresh, organic ingredients. Their food is made with holistics and wellness in mind and they are prepared in the most nutritious way. Nothing has preservatives, chemicals, artificial anything or refined sweeteners. They thrive to serve dishes made with love and health. Also available in the café are products such as body care, essential oils, supplements, superfoods, teas, incense, and little gifts such as locally made soaps, magnets, and hand bags. Also on the website is a food glossary of ingredients that are used in dishes explaining the nutritional value and benefits of things like agave, coconut oil, flax seeds, ginger, burdock root, and many more. On certain nights of the week, they have live string music bands at no additional charge. So, we decided this was a place we had to visit.
Finally, after walking a bit more and turning the corner, I looked up and saw the round sign hanging up on the brick building. I pointed to it and said to my husband, “Oh, there it is.” We excitedly walked in the door and turned to walk down a few steps into the small café. It was beautifully bright with vibrant colors of reds, oranges, yellows, blues, greens and purples on the walls, tables, and on decorative pieces displayed. The hand full of tables and chairs where painted as though my 5 year old niece were given buckets of finger paints and let loose to use all of her imagination and creativity on every piece. It had an eclectic and artsy, yet meditative feel to it. We walked up to the counter and while waiting I noticed a tall glass container filled with tiny little colored paper scrolls rolled in twine sitting next to the cookies and bars made by locals. The girl saw me looking and said, “Please help yourself to one, they are inspirational quotes” (sort of like a fortune cookie).
Once it was our turn, a very friendly young worker said, “Have a seat anywhere, decide what you want and come back and order at the counter.” We sat at the small round table in the corner with our menus and looked it over for what seemed like forever, as our stomachs continued to remind us of how empty they were. We finally decided to start with the Eros smoothie that had strawberries, dates, banana and almond milk—perfect recovery drink. For lunch, I ordered the mystic mountain salad which had mesculin greens, corn, shredded carrot, beets, cucumber, apple slices, cashews and sprouts with a homemade lemony vinaigrette and garlic lemon parsley hummus on top. My husband had the alchemist—a warm dish with shredded carrots, corn, tofu, dark greens, sun sprouts, sesame seeds and quinoa with a Ginger Nama, Shoyu sauce all rolled into a wrap.
Our server brought out our smoothies first in mason jars with a tall straw. This pink deliciousness was heavenly—fruity, yet silky and smooth. Then our lunches came out shortly after. I took one bite and sat back in my chair and said, “Wow that is amazing!” My husband took a bite of his and instantly had the same reaction. My salad was a perfect balance of flavors with the lemon vinaigrette dressing and hummus. The greens were fresh and crisp, the apples and cashews gave it a nice added crunch. We both took our time savoring each bite and enjoying the atmosphere and each other.
At Life Alive, the service from the staff was excellent. We only waited a very short time for our food, and everything was delicious. Our adventure in finding this café was well worth it and now that we found it, we will make the hour and a half drive back again. So if you are even in Lowell, MA, be sure to visit this treasure and enjoy some good food with friendly people.