For some reason, the two categories of “nice restaurant” and “health-conscious eating” tend too often to be almost entirely distinct. Sometimes and for some people there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the pure knowledge that what you’re putting into your body is good for you, but it would be nice to simply sit down and eat a delicious meal in an attractive restaurant, content in the knowledge that everything on the menu is guilt-free without having to obsess over that fact. And the middle sliver in that Venn diagram is True Food Kitchen.
Founded by Andrew Weil, the doctor, writer and naturopath whose Clause-esque beard has twice graced the cover of Time Magazine, True Food Kitchen is a small but nation-wide chain of upscale healthy restaurants. Currently there’s ten locations in six states, from Atlanta to Denver, and southern California is home to three of them. Los Angeles visitors and natives alike are lucky enough to have one right along Santa Monica’s 3rd Avenue shopping center, making it the perfect place to stop after an afternoon at the department stores or walking the promenade.
The decor is charming. Dominated by pale greens, reds and yellows, the color scheme is clearly inspired by the vegetables that make up so much of the menu. The indoor seating area is spacious and well-but-softly lit, with pendant lights, bare wood, and grassy plants for decoration. You can take a seat out on the patio under a brightly colored umbrella or even sit at the bar and watch the aproned chefs prepare various dishes.
True Food Kitchen is all about fresh local ingredients and a seasonal menu, so if you come back year round you might encounter something totally different. Wild-caught fish, antibiotic-free meats and organic grains and wines are staples here, and there’s plenty for the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten- or lactose-intolerant epicure as well. All manner of beverages are available to quench your thirst, replacing your usual restaurant’s soft-drink selection with concoctions made with sea buckthorn, kale and pear juices. Everything from breakfast to pizza to casserole to roasted sea bass is on the menu, and all designed, in the words of the restaurant’s website, to make you “feel better, live longer, and make your mouth happy.”
(A parting authorial recommendation: try the grass-fed bison burger, garnished with umami, mushrooms and watercress. Unbelievably delicious.)
The restaurant can be found at 395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 172, Santa Monica, CA 90401.