A Fresh Meal at Santa Monica’s True Food Kitchen

When I was visiting my friend in LA, I asked her what restaurant I absolutely had to go to during my stay. She immediately responded with “True Food.” After just looking up the menu online, I knew then and there I was in love. And once I actually arrived, True Food Kitchen did not disappoint. Here’s the details:

What kind of restaurant is it? What’s the price point? 

True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica is a health-conscious, organic restaurant that serves modern American food, often with a healthy or gluten-free twist. True Food looks to be developing into a small-scale chain, with its newest location opening up in Fairfax, VA (I can’t even express how excited I am), but that doesn’t seem to have any impact on the food. As for the price, it’s pretty average, with dishes ranging from $10-$20.

How’s it look? Describe the restaurant’s aesthetic, any notable features, etc. First impressions.

This place is massive. With high ceilings, oversized lighting, and bright colors, it makes quite the first impression. Despite the slightly industrial look, you’re reminded of True Food’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients in small details around the restaurant. From the fresh herbs and the list of seasonal, locally grown foods used to the bright green plants just about everywhere, the entire space feels refreshing and homey.

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How’s the wait staff? Are they attentive, good with kids, fast?

The service was very nice, although a bit slow at times. A drink was spilled on the floor right next to me, and every single waiter—and there were a lot of them—who passed by checked in to make sure I was okay (a drop never touched me!). They’re definitely attentive. Oh, and did I mention that all the servers wear yoga pants? Best uniform ever.

How’s the drink selection?

True Food is famous for their yummy drinks, both alcoholic and not. I went for a Green Arnie, which is their take on an Arnold Palmer. Instead of using regular sweet tea, they use matcha green tea powder, which adds a lovely grassy taste. It was the perfect beverage for rehydrating after a long day walking around Santa Monica.

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Appetizer: how’s it taste? Is the portion size good for an appetizer? 

To be honest, I think that this simple vegetable crudité is what impressed me the most about True Food. First of all, it’s gorgeous. The two dips it came with, tzatziki and black olive, were the perfect additions and didn’t totally negate the healthfulness of the veggies. You definitely get your money’s worth in veggies, and we actually had a take-out container filled to the brim with leftovers. I would have actually been happy just eating this entire bowl of vegetables myself—they were that good, especially with the dips—but had to stop myself to save room for…tacos.

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Entree: how’s it taste? If meat, is your meat cooked the way you wanted?

I ordered the street tacos with steak, although I’m not sure how easy it’d be to find such pretty tacos like these on the street. The grass-fed steak was flavorful, although a bit chewy at times. The pickled onions added the perfect zesty bite and worked well with the creamy cotija cheese. A small bowl of anasazi beans were served on the side, which was delicious and, despite the L.A. heat, added the perfect warmth to the dish. You could definitely tell that all the ingredients were high quality—organic and local foods really do make a difference!

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Dessert: was it heavy or light? Too sweet or not sweet enough?

So, can this health-conscious, organic, locally-sourced restaurant also make a good dessert? Oh yes. We got the flourless chocolate cake which came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was everything you’d hope a flourless chocolate cake to be: warm, gooey, chocolatey, and totally indulgent.

The dessert portions are quite small, so that left me relatively guilt-free about trying a second dessert: the lemon tart. It was very light and felt like the perfect summer dessert. It wasn’t my all-time favorite lemon tart, as the actual lemon filling had a texture not too far off from Jell-O. While texture threw me off at first, the lemon flavor really stood out. The crust was not too sweet and it was perfectly crisp, and you couldn’t even tell that it was gluten-free. The dollop of coconut whipped cream on top was incredible. It gave the tart the creaminess that it would have otherwise lacked due to the texture of the filling. Am I the only one who didn’t know that flavored whipped cream existed?!

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Was it a good value for what you paid?

I would say yes, for the most part. We paid a moderate price per dish and got very high quality, delicious food. I would be wary of ordering their specialty drinks, though, unless you’re an avid juice lover or matcha fanatic—they’re good, but the portions aren’t very big and they make sure to pack each drink with plenty of ice despite charging around $5 a glass. Lesson learned: ask for no ice whenever possible!

Would you come back again, recommend it to readers?

In a heartbeat. True Food Kitchen has several locations all over the U.S., so if you live anywhere near one, definitely go. It’s fresh, it’s organic, it’s mostly good for you (lemon tart has fruit in it, so that counts, right?), and it’s downright yummy. They have plenty of different options ranging from big salads to curry to pizza to sandwiches, so there’s a little something for everyone. I’m already making plans to head to the new Fairfax location once it opens!