True Food Kitchen marks one year of offering fresh fare in the Mosaic District as it looks to expand in the DMV.
True Food Kitchen is serving up healthy alternatives to your fast-food favorites, like this grass-fed bison burger and kale-aid.
There’s a West Coast vibe to True Food Kitchen, perched on a high-traffic corner in the heart of the Mosaic District. Featuring athletically dressed servers whose uniforms look like they were designed by Lululemon, the well-lit space has a breezy openness. If the sound system played nothing but Jack Johnson records, it wouldn’t seem weird.
Part of a boutique chainlet, the restaurant offers a menu based on the anti-inflammatory diet developed by Dr. Andrew Weil—a physician, wellness advocate, and author of a number of popular books, including the new York times best seller 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. That means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. The vast majority of the ingredients are organic, the restaurant strives to source locally, and its proteins come from animals raised without hormone supplements. While the menu is almost entirely overhauled four times a year to showcase the season’s finest produce, you’ll always be able to order certain signature items, such as the TLT (with tempeh, lettuce, tomato, and avocado) and the “inside out” quinoa burger, which sandwiches Mediterranean ingredients—hummus, tzatziki, feta, and more—between two patties.
Pizzas, pastas, and tacos are all available, but they’ve been reimagined without all the excess fats and processed elements. “You don’t feel bad about being a glutton here,” says general manager Matt Connors. “The bison burger is the biggest splurge you can get, but even that is leaner than chicken.”
As the location’s executive chef, Michael Obermeier, puts it, “We do awesome food that’s actually good for you.”
The Mediterranean chopped salad.
Obermeier trained at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, and went on to head up the kitchens at that city’s Wine Dive and Roxy’s Pub. Neither one served what you might call health-conscious cooking (the former specializes in French-inspired fare, while the latter offers Irish tavern grub). When the opportunity at True Food Kitchen came up, Obermeier saw it as an exciting challenge. “People are getting away from the high-fat butters and creams,” he says. “I wanted to be at the forefront with a company that’s making some really great changes and coming up with great ideas for making people healthier by eating really great food.”
After two months of training at the restaurant’s locations in San Diego and Denver, Obermeier moved up from Florida to open the Fairfax location in late September of last year. “It was a bit of a culture shock,” he says. “This was the first time I had ever seen snow.”
“You don’t feel bad about being a glutton here. Even the bison burger is leaner than chicken.”—Matt Connors
In addition, working at True Food Kitchen has transformed the 32-year-old chef’s own life: “I’ve changed a lot of my eating habits. I was one of those guys who, when I got off from work, I’d eat whatever was easy, convenient, and fast.” In the past year, Obermeier has shed 35 pounds by ditching sodas and late-night junk food and adopting a diet consisting of the kinds of meals he serves at work.
The restaurant’s local outpost has earned a strong following among health-minded diners, such as yoga enthusiasts, running groups, and triathlete training teams, who all stop in after workouts, and the company is happy it chose Fairfax as its first mid-Atlantic location. “It’s been really successful for us,” says Connors. “There’s been nothing but positive growth.”
Marylanders will soon be getting a taste of True Food Kitchen as well: The company plans to open an outlet in Bethesda in late 2016. 2910 District Ave., #170, Fairfax, 571-326-1616