Life in Los Angeles can be very good with a bit of advice. Double or triple the estimated drive time given by your map/direction/gps application. Don't drive too far during rush hour (1 mile may take 30 minutes by car at 5pm). Don't drive at all when it rains because even if you know how to drive in the rain, most other people who live here do not. Yes, all my advice has to do with driving, because even though I will travel for food, there are limits to the amount of stress I will endure. I would gladly swap going through TSA at LAX rather than be stuck in a car on the 405 heading to the Valley at 5pm.
Thankfully Lyfe (Love Your Food Everyday) just opened in Culver City, which means that I don't have to drive to Stanford in Northern California to eat their lovely food. Lyfe focuses on sustainability, community, and being eco-friendly. Their version of "fast food" is healthy, varied, and embraces those who are gluten intolerant or vegetarian.
Everyone I encountered at Lyfe did their best to be helpful from the moment I entered (or got into line to enter) the restaurant, explaining the availability of different menus (one for regular, one for gluten free, and one for vegetarian), and offering samples (the flatbread Margherita was superb).
I ate in the first few times and received a GPS table tracker after placing my order. This handy device lets the food runners know EXACTLY where you are in the restaurant so you are assured to get your order as soon as it is ready.
For to go orders, their utensils are biobased (made from potatoes).
You may add either free range chicken, Gardein "chicken", agave-lime tofu, grilled shrimp or grilled salmon to any salad for an additional $2-$4, so I added Gardein to the Farmer's market salad ($8.99) of organic winter greens, blackberries, agave pickled onions, spiced pecans, and goat cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette. The menu listed calorie counts and sodium counts beside every item, so I knew my meal came in at 428 calories and 649 mg of sodium. I didn't care about the counts as much as I cared about the flavor, so I was very happy to find that the low calorie count did not diminish the taste. The combination of fresh berries with the crunchy sweetness of the pecans, the creamy goat cheese, and the tartness of the vinaigrette worked very well together. I could eat this salad with a different protein combination all week.
I also tried the Gardein crispy chicken sandwich for $8.99 which came with a small side salad of kale and carrots. The sandwich had some very nice components, like shishito pepper relish, organic tomato and romaine lettuce, red onions, and chipotle aioli on multigrain bread. The quality of ingredients and the creativity of this sandwich recipe makes this a good choice for anyone who wants a healthier (and tastier) chicken sandwich than most places offer.
Seeing grilled Barramundi listed as one of their entree choices for only $12.99 surprised me in the best possible way. Barramundi is one of my favorite fishes and for those who like Sea Bass, it is a great alternative to the ubiquitous salmon found on nearly every menu. Served with edamame, napa cabbage, baby spinach, shittake mushrooms, and scallions in a spicy broth, you can choose the regular version with soba noodles, or the gluten free without (which is what I chose because I don't like soba noodles). It was not very spicy at all, but I enjoyed the broth, vegetable, and fish combination very much. The grilled Barramundi was a bit over cooked, but dipping it in the broth alleviated the minor dryness.
Yes, life and Lyfe are good in Southern California, especially when there are fresh and healthy choices in a pedestrian area close to home.