True Food Kitchen impresses locavore fanatics


True Food Kitchen’s robust bison burger is a great, lean alternative to beef. Served on a flaxseed bun with a side of sweet potato hash and kale salad, this dish is both mouthwatering and well-balanced. Photo Credit: Lauren J. Mapp/Editor-in-Chief

Lauren J. Mapp, Editor-in-Chief

When choosing a restaurant to dine at, the general rules of thumb are to avoid establishments in malls and chain restaurants, but True Food Kitchen bites its thumb at both of those rules.

True Food – located in Fashion Valley Mall at 7007 West Fashion Valley, Suite 394 – is the newest addition to San Diego’s all-natural food scene and puts traditional mall food court fare to shame.

A pristinely clean restaurant with an open kitchen welcomes customers into True Food, transporting them away from the bustling mall scene and into a relaxing dining experience like none other. Small potted succulent plants are perched on each of the tables, and if you sit at the bar, a piece of whole fruit will weigh down your check.

Local-eats friendly quotes from famed foodies such as Alice Waters and Michael Pollan adorn the walls. Pollan’s quote shows how committed True Food’s staff is in terms of promoting locally grown and natural food: “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”

One such example of this ideology in practice is evident when it’s time to order a drink. If you are looking to wash down your meal with a high fructose corn syrup-laden soft drink, then you’re out of luck. True Food’s non-alcoholic drink menu consists of handcrafted beverages that are both tasty and nourishing.

A mixture of fresh juices and ginger syrup puts the sweet and ever so slightly kicked up apple carrot tonic at the top of the drink list. The medicine man – an antioxidant-rich drink – features sea buckthorn, a berry high in vitamin C, alongside triple brewed black tea, pomegranate juice, muddled blueberries and a splash of soda water.

Years of supermarket knockoffs of a traditional Mediterranean snack do not do justice to the protein-packed, chickpea dish of hummus. True Food’s herb hummus is flavorful on its own, yet is topped with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta cheese and marinated red onion slices, putting it at forefront for its kind in San Diego.

True Food’s caramelized onion tart with dried black figs, smoked garlic and gorgonzola cheese is another must-try item. Though a little on the small size, this thin, four-sliced flatbread serves as a perfect amuse bouche if you’re sharing, or a great appetizer for solo diners.

Try the pillows of white truffle-infused, edamame dumplings for a truly unique experience. Served with daikon radish and a delicate broth with whole edamame beans, this dish entices your taste buds and readies them for the entrée.

An artichoke and asparagus flatbread pizza is a nice segue from the dumplings. The crust is brushed with a simple olive oil sauce, and the light sprinkling of cheese complements the vegetables without overpowering them.

Carnivores will want to give the bison burger a go – especially since it can be served rare. On its flaxseed bun with mushrooms, onion, Parmesan and mayonnaise, it is also paired with a sweet potato hash and kale salad tossed in lemon vinaigrette, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

No meal is complete without a bite of dessert, and True Food’s olive oil and almond tart with yogurt and blackberries will (probably) not bite back. Slightly sweet with an almond aftertaste reminiscent of amaretto, the tart’s crispy edges make it all the better.

True Food may be a little on the pricy side, but knowing that your meal wasn’t engineered in a factory and shipped in the form of canned goods to the restaurant is well worth making a return trip.

High fructose corn syrup is absent from the drinks at True Food Kitchen, and is replaced with all-natural sodas and juices. True Food's carrot apple ginger tonic is a great way to bump up your vitamin intake without losing the flavor that one hopes for in a mixed drink - even a non-alcoholic one. Photo Credit: Lauren J. Mapp/Editor-in-Chief
Pizza might become slightly less of a guilty pleasure when you top it with vegetables, but the asparagus and artichoke heart flatbread pizza at True Food successfully hides the fact that it's not (that) bad for you. Photo Credit: Lauren J. Map


True Food Kitchen's robust bison burger is a great, lean alternative to beef. Served on a flaxseed bun with a side of sweet potato hash and kale salad, this dish is both mouthwatering and well-balanced. Photo Credit: Lauren J. Mapp/Editor-in-Chief