10. True Food Kitchen

Juice made with ginger, apples, celery, cucumber and lemon is on the menu at True Food Kitchen, along with Margherita pizza and kale guacamole. Photo by Deb Lindsey


True confession: When it opened in the Solaire Bethesda apartment building in June 2017, I expected not to like True Food Kitchen, the 22-location restaurant chain whose menus are based on health and wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet pyramid. That translates into a diet mostly reliant on vegetables (unlimited Asian mushrooms!), fruits, grains and legumes, with protein and healthy fats allowed here and there, along with a smidgen of chocolate and red wine.

The first thing I notice on a visit is the enormity of the 6,400-square-foot space, which seats about 200 people inside and 34 on a patio. The décor includes lime-green vinyl banquettes with rows of spiky snake plants behind them, hanging Edison bulbs and industrial pendant lamps, and an open kitchen and long bar.

All True Food Kitchens have the same menu of appetizers, starters, salads, bowls, pizzas, sandwiches, entrées and desserts, and many items are rotated seasonally. I thoroughly enjoy my 230-calorie Thai grapefruit martini, but the nonalcoholic drink options are also noteworthy, especially a lushly green juice of ginger, apples, celery, cucumber and lemon. Many offerings on the 30-bottle wine list come in 6- or 9-ounce pours.

Though I am suspicious about the notion of kale guacamole, I enjoy True Food’s version, where chopped roasted poblano pepper, bits of pink grapefruit and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds are added to the mix of avocado and kale. The Margherita pizza is a credible rendition of that classic. An entrée of grilled salmon with farro, quinoa and pumpkin-seed pesto, along with an arugula and golden beet salad, hits the spot, even if the dish could use an extra bit of zing. Dessert, in my case a small pudding of whipped coconut cream, puréed banana and chia seeds garnished with strips of toasted coconut, comes without a side dish you often get at other places: guilt.

7100 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda | 240-200-1257  |  truefoodkitchen.com