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Life Alive

765 Mass. Ave., Cambridge

Open Mondays–Saturdays 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

It’s a Saturday evening, and you’re hungry. You ate brunch at 10 a.m. and haven’t had a bite to eat since then. It’s been a long, busy week, and between classes during the day and psets at night, you’ve been grabbing a quick burger and fries or plate of pasta most nights for dinner. You need to take a break and recharge — so why not grab some friends and get dinner at Life Alive, a restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere and a revitalizing menu?

This little oasis from the day-to-day shuffle is just a 15-minute walk up Mass. Ave. into Cambridge. Stepping in from the concrete city, the interior of Life Alive seems to have gone to root, with plants flourishing in the windows, and with natural wood tables and counters. Music plays lightly over conversations held by friends and couples, and waiters weave through the room, smiling and balancing plates of food. There is a more intimate downstairs seating area, with softer lighting and a few larger tables for groups, some tables for two, and padded benches set into the mural-covered walls. Overall, the place has a very hippie-groovy, relaxing vibe.

Life Alive’s menu (all vegetarian) is driven by the principle that diverse, unprocessed, and organic foods are fundamentally key to holistic wellbeing. Fresh vegetables, legumes, and grains are combined with intensely delicious sauces to create a mouthwatering array of bowls, wraps, and soups. They also serve a number of energizing smoothies with decadent and exotic flavors such as mango avocado, ginger maple, and chicory cacao.

I’ll admit that, the first time I visited Life Alive, I was somewhat skeptical. Even though I’m a vegan, that doesn’t mean I chow down on vegetables 24/7 — I enjoy my deep fried tater tots and ketchup as much as the next guy. However, I ordered a whole-wheat wrap stuffed to bursting with leafy greens, broccoli, whole grains, nuts, and who knows what other veggies, and when I took my first bite, I could tell that Life Alive knew what it was doing. The flavors and textures were fantastic — I could taste how fresh and wholesome the ingredients were. Furthermore, my body seemed to recognize that whatever had been missing from my nightly dining hall diet was contained in the wrap, and I craved the next bite. I could almost feel myself getting younger with every mouthful.

The next time you’re feeling run down, try out a restaurant that’s run at a different pace. A relaxing evening with friends at Life Alive could revitalize you mentally and physically, setting you up to take on whatever new challenges lie in your week ahead.

Expect to pay $8–$10 for an entrée, and the $5–$7 for a smoothie. The servings are smaller than average, but they are dense and filling, and you are paying for high-quality, nutritious food.

The ordering system is a little unconventional: place your order at the counter on the first floor (like a Starbucks), then find a place to sit and place a little sign with a number on your table, and a waiter will bring you your food.