Another hot new spot for young people, and those seeking youth through healthy eating, has opened up in Santa Monica. The True Food Kitchen occupies a great location on the west end of Santa Monica Place, right on Second Street. Its claim to fame is that it is somehow associated with Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard Medical School graduate famous for writing about healthy foods.
This space used to be one of the last of the Chinese restaurants in Santa Monica with real Chinese waiters. When my son Spencer was studying Mandarin we would go there and the waiters would chuckle and write Chinese characters on the paper tablecloths with him. But the days of Chinese restaurants seem over, and healthy, fresh vegetables are in — for some.
One of the most unusual and most popular dishes here is the pot of raw vegetables with dipping sauces for $12. It is very attractive, with the different colored vegetables nicely arranged, and it does make a perfect dish to share around a table, if you are with those kind of people.
I was able to get a chuckle out of the fellow serving me at the bar. He uses an apple as a paper weight to hold down the check, which they put in front of the patron when the patron orders. So I took a bite out of the apple, as the old saying goes.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” he said.
So what is there that a not-particularly-healthy-person like me would eat? That’s tough, because I don’t often eat raw fish outside of Japanese restaurants, I don’t really like raw vegetables, and I usually go to real Italian restaurants if I feel like pizza or pasta. But one time I did have a pizza here. It was not good. They don’t have a wood burning oven, and they put too much cheese on it, and somehow the cheese all sinks to the middle of the pizza making for sort of a soggy mess.
A big favorite among the regulars is the turkey burger for $12. Personally, when I want a burger, I look for the beef. But for those that like turkey burgers, I think this one is probably about as good as it gets, that is if that’s your kind of thing. If you want the real thing, you can order the “grass fed” bison burger with umami mushrooms and onions, mayo and parmesan on a flax bun” for $16. That’s not cheap for a burger, but to my taste it’s much better than the turkey burger.
And if someone takes you there and you must have regular food, try the steak tacos for $16, which have a good tomatillo salsa on them. Or at dinner there is the spicy shrimp and Asian noodles, and the miso-glazed black cod (my favorite dish there, but pricey at $25).
One of the best features of the restaurant is a selection of beautiful cocktails in vivid colors and flavors, and the well-conceived wine list. A dozen beers are also available, and there is even sake by the glass or bottle — a really nice feature for this menu.
The wine list is organized by price. There are four categories, between $6 a glass and $12 a glass. A bottle is priced at four times the glass pour. There are selections from all over the world, so you can afford to do a miniature wine tasting during this healthy adventure. And everyone can agree that wine is good for the health.
Merv Hecht, the food and wine critic for the Santa Monica Daily Press, is a wine buyer and consultant to a number of national and international food and wine companies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
True Food Kitchen
395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 172
Santa Monica, Calif.