Inside True Food Kitchen

Bethesda restaurant offers fresh, seasonal menu for health-conscious diners


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True Food fits about 200 inside, with seats made of recycled bottles.

Joe Zimmermann

True Food Kitchen rejects any ambiguity about what its diners will be eating.

In addition to its declarative name, the whole restaurant evokes freshness, from its display racks of fruits and vegetables down to the little cacti that adorn every table. Rows of plants line the seating section, and the open kitchen and food prep area are just feet away from diners.

“If you’re someone who worries what goes into your food, it’s the perfect place because no worries—you can literally see what’s happening,” restaurant Manager Marian Flaxman said Tuesday. “If you care about what goes into your food, we do too.”

True Food Kitchen officially opened Wednesday in the bottom floor of Solaire Bethesda on 7100 Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Bethesda. It brought in invited guests as well as some walk-in customers during a soft-opening last weekend.

The restaurant chain, which has 17 locations nationally, was founded by restaurateur Sam Fax and Dr. Andrew Weil, a celebrity doctor and advocate of alternative medicine and healthy food. True Food Kitchen aims to offer good-tasting food that that’s made from healthy and local ingredients.

There’s only a small storage section in the restaurant because most of the food, from produce to meat, is delivered daily, said Dave Hollander, general manager of the restaurant. If fruits or vegetables are on Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” of produce with the most pesticide residue, True Food Kitchen buys organic varieties.

The menu changes seasonally depending on what’s available. Signature items from the current menu include heirloom tomato and watermelon salad as well as albacore tuna tataki, head chef Randall Matthews said.

Many menu items are vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, and all menu items can be customized to fit the dietary needs or preferences of diners, Flaxman said.

All desserts are gluten-free and made in-house. No sodas are on the menu—but True Food does offer natural juices as substitutes. Beer, wine and cocktails also are available.

The restaurant has about 200 seats with 34 more on its dog-friendly patio. The interior features reclaimed wood floors, chairs made of recycled soda bottles and a painting of a bicycle by Juan Pineda, who painted the mural at the Bethesda Metro station.

Hollander said he thinks True Food can open people’s minds to eating healthier food. Since he started working at the restaurant’s location in Fairfax, Virginia, he said he doesn’t turn to unhealthy or buttery foods anymore.

“You just don’t do that anymore after you see how things can be done without those things,” he said.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

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