[This post is part of a series of reviews from my Winter 2014/15 trip to California]
True Food Kitchen claims that they are all about “Honest food that tastes really good”, and I can definitely vouch for the fact that this is the honest truth. With a wide, healthy selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options, plus the ability and willingness to accommodate so many allergies and requests, they offer something for everyone (including those who eat meat). It’s clean food for all – you can choose a bison burger, or an “inside out quinoa burger”, a vegan and gluten-free pizza, or one that is loaded with meat and gluten, plus sandwiches and wraps for any diet or taste. Then there are salads, sides and incredible drinks, too.
We happened to dine at True Food Kitchen 3 times in our 4 evenings in Santa Monica, because every one of our group of 10 was so happy here. It might not be the most exceptionally creative food, but I’ve never encountered any restaurant that offered a great ambiance, fantastic service, and such a diverse menu.
All 3 times, I started my meal with a hot drink called “The Natural” which is made of ginger, agave and citrus and it really hit the spot every time. Ahhhhhh! To say that my little brother loved the honey lemonade doesn’t even scratch the surface to describe how he felt, and like in so many restaurants in the US, they offer free refills and I’m surprised that he never floated away from the table due to the amount of liquids he took in. With 6 kids, we all tried a lot of different things, and even sat at their bar to watch the bartender mix and shake drinks like a pro. My parents and my friends parents loved their cocktails. Our friend Jonathan came up with an oxymoronic drink that they all loved, a few times over. They added a shot of tequila to the “Hangover Rx” which is coconut water, pineapple, vanilla, & orange juice, and I guess the alcohol and the hangover cure offset each other nicely.
The avocado and kale dip served with house flatbreads was a huge hit for most of the table, I highly recommend that, and for vegans, you can easily leave off the cheese. It’s a really great dish to share. The other favourite appetizer for our group was their Edamamme Dumplings served in a little bit of sweet broth with spicy microgreens, which worked so nicely together. Over the 3 nights, I think we might have ordered everything off the menu between the 10 of us. The vegan version of the quinoa burger was well approved by my mother, the butternut squash pizza modified to a gluten-free crust, without nuts, and goat cheese instead of mozzarella was a favourite of my sister’s, our friends loved the fish they had, my brother devoured his pizza and my mother’s Autumn Ingredient salad, probably because he loves mulberries so much. As for me, I loved my burgers with caramelized onions, watercress, mushrooms, avocado, and adored the most delicious “umami” sauce, which tasted basically like nutritional yeast, a favourite addition to meals and popcorn at home. Basically, my suggestion is to order what sounds good to you off the menu, and you will be satisfied.
It was really nice to come and go through the front doors of the restaurant, as they had little bathtub-like planters of fresh greens, herbs and even tomatoes growing – if that’s not a reminder that they serve fresh food, I don’t know what could be! Now we also need this restaurant in Toronto, although they won’t be able to grow the plants outside for much of they year here! They do have locations in 6 states; Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Virginia, and Texas, so if you live there, or are traveling, I recommend that you check it out, and enjoy the honest food!