Justin Fox Burks
Dishes at LYFE Kitchen, the new $2.5 million buildout of the former Sharky’s in East Memphis, are colorful and affordable thanks to super grains, responsibly raised meat, and a seasonal rainbow of fresh vegetables. The Mahi fish tacos feature Hawaii’s favorite fis
h along with avocado, cilantro, chipotle aioli, salsa fresca, and chayote slaw, and the quinoa crunch bowl (my favorite!) is a painter’s palette of arugula, quinoa tabbouleh, and chunks of raw radishes served on a fern-colored canvas of hummus made with edamame.
If you don’t recognize healthy buzzwords like quinoa (a super grain), edamame (green soy beans), or chayote (a squash-like fruit favored by the Aztec), order the dishes anyway and then finish with an American favorite: chocolate chip cookies that are so good you will probably eat a handful with no regrets.
Handcrafted beverages, both spiked and non-alcohol, also showcase trendy ingredients like chia seeds and freshly squeezed juices. Other house-made concoctions, such as lemonade and ginger beer, come stand-alone or as building blocks for customized cocktails. On work days, when Tito’s vodka must wait, try cucumber juice, mint, and lime, one of three LYFE waters as refreshing as a backyard pool on a warm autumn morning.
Truth be told, I said the food was too healthy for Memphians, an opinion flattened on subsequent visits for brunch and dinner when lines snaked out the front door. Chance Carlisle, president and CEO of the national chain, says eating healthy shouldn’t be a regional phenomenon relegated to the East and West Coasts: “To LYFErs, eating healthy should not be a deliberate decision, but a by-product of choosing the best option.”
Look for additional downtown options at the end of the year, when the Memphis-based chain’s second local restaurant opens in The Chisca, part of the historic hotel’s renovation.
6201 Poplar Ave. (901-684-5333) $-$$