Penne pomodoro with turkey meatballs, coffee+cumin rubbed pork tenderloin, sweet chile chicken tacos and BBQ chicken flatbread--just a few of the gluten-free options on the menu at the newly renovated LYFE Kitchen+Chisca Bar in Downtown Memphis.
I LOVE LYFE Kitchen! My family rarely dines out due to risk of gluten cross contact, but we've had really good luck at LYFE Kitchen. Every employee I have encountered has been well trained on food allergies and the restaurant has a dedicated area to prepare gluten-free and allergen-free orders. There are two locations in Memphis which isn't too far from my Mississippi home and I was really excited to find a great place that the kids also enjoyed--until the downtown location closed for "tranformation" according to the sign in the window. I was heartbroken. Just a couple of weeks after my video review and NIMA demonstration (click here to see video), the restaurant closed. Memphis is pretty much a gluten-free food desert, so when my favorite eatery closed, I was deeply saddened. We didn't dine out for more than three months.
My heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw on social media that the 272 S. Main location was reopening! My family was lucky enough to be treated as VIPs at their pre-opening training lunch where we had the opportunity to sample appetizers, entrees and desserts from the new menu which boasts many delicious gluten-free options! The new LYFE Kitchen+Chisca Bar is now a full-service restaurant that takes patrons back in time with decor from the historic Hotel Chisca. Beautiful chandeliers and a hotel registration desk greets guests when they enter. The menu still has many of the classic LYFE Kitchen dishes that my family loves, but some welcome new additions as well. Our server did a great job making sure our order was carefully prepared and that our glasses stayed full! The menu prices were reasonable with entrees ranging from $8 to $16--and half are labeled gluten free! Kids' meals are only $5.
I ordered the sweet chile chicken tacos served on three organic corn tortillas with avocado smash, chayote slaw, black beans, cilantro and chipotle aioli. This spicy dish was messy, but delicious. I would order it again, but it was a bit too spicy for the kids to enjoy. My mom ordered the penne pomodoro with turkey meatballs and really enjoyed it. It was a huge portion and she took half of it home with her. I tasted her dish and it was so good that I will probably order that next time I visit! I really liked the turkey meatballs and the zucchini slices that were mixed in with the pasta. It was surprising to see the only pasta dish on the menu was gluten free! My mom ordered it because it looked good to her, not because it is gluten free. She said she couldn't tell the difference between the gluten free pasta and what she normally eats. I was excited to hear that! My kiddos always order the margherita flat bread without the tomatoes (essentially a cheese pizza) with baked sweet potato fries. We didn't order dessert, but since it was a staff training day, the server brought out a couple of desserts for us to sample and made sure to bring gluten free desserts. Unfortunately, we didn't love the desserts. They were pretty, but just didn't taste good. We were so full from the meal that we weren't really interested in dessert anyway.
Here's some other things I noticed when dining at the new LYFE Kitchen+Chisca Bar:
VOLUME LEVEL: The music was VERY loud, so sit close to your dining partner if you want to have a conversation. I know bars are typically loud, but this is now also a full-service restaurant. I was expecting it to be a little quieter. This location has amazing patio seating! I'm not sure if it is quieter outside.
PARKING: Parking downtown is not always easy. There is a parking lot near the Orpheum about a block north of the restaurant. Fortunately, we were able to park on the street beside the restaurant. Parking meters are only enforced on weekdays. There is a trolley stop outside LYFE Kitchen, so you could always take the trolley!
NO SMOKING: This is a smoke-free environment. The entire Chisca on Main building, including the restaurant's outdoor patio, is smoke free.
If you're looking for a great full-service restaurant with gluten-free options in Downtown Memphis, look no further than the transformed LYFE Kitchen+Chisca Bar. I look forward to many date nights downtown with my handsome husband. There are so many fun things to do and now we can also plan to eat a safe, gluten-free dinner while we're out.
Have you been to LYFE Kitchen? Tell us what you love about it?
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. While I did receive a complimentary meal; as part of the pre-opening testing event, I did not receive financial compensation for this post.