I kept the eye from rolling as I approached True Food, seeing first through the windows a green beverage being delivered to a very thin, slightly sweaty woman who seemed to have no time to shower between workout and lunch. The eyeball went fully back, however, when I saw a very attractive, energetic staff clad in yoga gear eager to welcome me and my husband to ‘experience’ True Food. Whether cocaine or coconut water was the culprit that propelled our waiter to such euphoric heights, I was entertained nonetheless and growing ever more curious of the cuisine behind the curtain.
Metaphors aside for a moment, there really wasn’t a curtain. Their bright, beautiful kitchen was open for all to see. A rather explicit display of merriment filled the modern, right-angled room–athletically built (and much taller) keeblers happily at work to create their gluten-free cookies. No amount of skepticism could have fought the desire to just join in hop on the bandwagon and ask for a side of flaxseed rather than salt to sprinkle on, well, everything.
We began with a couple booze-less cocktails: The Natural (fresh ginger, agave & soda) and Green Arnie (matcha green tea and honey lemonade). We sipped and admired the irony of a quite lovely bar in the center of the room chock full of ingredients that might nullify the effect of an antioxidant meal. Then again, could any restaurant (even one that is built on the firm foundational goal of health) really make it in this town for all day service if it didn’t offer a few big kid drinks?
We began with the shrimp dumplings that sat in a puddle of basil, mint and red chile. It was a tantalizing combination that left my tongue in want. By my definition: a perfect appetizer, that which sates for a blissful moment but leaves an appropriate void. It was at this moment that I realized the ratio of ladies who lunch without rings past the age of 40 to strapping young 20-something waiters was astounding. Nearly equal, I realized that perhaps it wasn’t just the kale that created so much energy in the room.
One more round of tasty beverages that I convinced my self were beneficial, and we were presented with our albacore tuna sliders and Panang curry with tofu. Everything was prepared with just enough crunch and candor. The flavors exploded and were the essence of their ‘true’ personality. Broccoli just tasted louder, Shitakes more mushroomy. I had to give it to them. The food was impressively transparent, clean and honest. It was the ideal lunch locale. I have yet to go for dinner.
I have never been into wheatgrass. I don’t cut corners replacing oil with applesauce or greek yogurt for sour cream. I’m from Wisconsin. I prefer custard to ice cream, butter to margarine. Despite my average athletic frame, I feel obese in San Diego, even after a 10 mile run, when I sit down in a restaurant and ask for more rice on the side with my sushi. Simply put, I am healthy but not a health freak. But despite my cynical side entering True Food, one brow raised and backpack full of reserve jokes about supplements and vitamin boosters, I have to say… I liked it…
And so with that, I recommend you don’t let your inner snarky self get the best of you. Even if you have never so much as attempted a detox or think a ‘down dog’ is a canine with a depression disorder, you should still check out True Food. There is something on the menu for everyone, from creative salads and seasonal pizzas to Teriyaki bowls and tacos. Don’t think ‘healthy’, think: pure. These ingredients are fresh, pampered and pushed to their fullest potential. Plain and simple.
Plus, it didn’t hurt to justify a hearty meal of risotto and red wine at home later that evening.