Where to
  • Life Alive on Middle Street in Lowell. The Mill City eatery opened 11 years ago and has since expanded to Central Square in Cambridge, and Salem, Mass.
What for
  • Vegetarian eats packed with flavor. For those carnivores and herbivores not familiar with some of the café's menu items, the staff is at the ready to make you feel comfortable and answer any questions you may have and help guide you to the right dining choice. All items are made-to-order so you don't have to be too daring the first time around.
The scene
  • The first word that comes to mind when describing Life Alive is vibrant. The colors on the walls are bright and the furniture on its stage (where bands play free shows every Thursday and Friday) is adorned with lion heads and bold hues. The eatery's counters are a bit cluttered but worth a second look. They are lined with glass canisters filled with dry goods (candied pineapple, sesame stix, organic maple granola) and tea leaves. Behind the counters, the staff laughs with each other and seems to really enjoy working there.
    Life Alive manager Jessica MacDonald, and three of their dishes: The Lover (red plate), The Goddess (green plate) and The Adventurer (orange plate).
    Life Alive manager Jessica MacDonald, and three of their dishes: The Lover (red plate), The Goddess (green plate) and The Adventurer (orange plate). (SUN/Julia Malakie)
What you're eating
  • The Goddess, of course. The Goddess is the dish that manager Jessica MacDonald said started it all. The meal is made with nurturing carrots, beet, broccoli, dark greens and tofu or sprouted legumes, atop short grain brown rice, drizzled with a healthy pour of Ginger Name Shoyu Sauce. The Adventurer (Sesame Ginger Name Sauce combined with corn, beets, broccoli, dark greens, shredded cheddar, tofu or sprouted legumes, and tamari almonds over quinoa and short grain brown rice) is another fan favorite at the eatery. Most dishes are available in three sizes -- demi (just the right portion), filling (large), or as a "handy wrap."
What you're drinking
  • Tea! "All of them are great. I could go on forever, they're amazing," MacDonald said of the tea selections of the café. "That's why we carry them -- because they're amazing." The Coconut Oolong, Chocolate Chai and Tumeric Ginger reign as Life Alive's top sellers. The Tumeric Ginger has "super healing powers," MacDonald said adding it serves as an anti-inflammatory and an allergy remedy. Tea not your thing? Try the Loco Coco Smoothe (dandi-chicory blend with raw cacao, coconut oil, coconut-based ice cream, maple syrup, soy milk and ice). Life Alive boasts 13 smoothies on its menu and18 Nutri-Boosts.
Who you'll see there
  • Everyone. No, really, Life Alive isn't just for vegetarians. The café is frequented by local students, police officers, families and the corporate crowd.

Life Alive, 194 Middle St., Lowell, 978-453-1311, lifealive.com. Open Mon.-Wed., 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Thurs.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.