Good vibes at TFK

February 2020 View more

True Food Kitchen was founded with a simple and straightforward corporate mission: Serve food that makes you feel good.

A collaboration between wellness pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil and restaurateur Sam Fox, the first location opened in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2018. Weil has written dozens of books on healing, happiness, natural medicine, aging, and food, so naturally, True Food Kitchen’s menus are inspired by his philosophy of eating healthily without skimping on flavor. In other words, the goal is to leave satisfied and inspired, not loosening your belt and lazing into a food coma on the ride home.

True Food Kitchen now has locations nationwide and has earned some big-name fans, including Oprah Winfrey, who became an investor after dining there with trainer Bob Greene. The latest addition is a bright and bustling space in Oak Brook (105 Oakbrook Center, 630.716.3056, with shiny green banquettes lined with planters and smiling servers clad in tees screen printed with inspirational words such as “balanced,” “mindful,” and, of course, “true.”


True Food Kitchen’s menu changes seasonally; at presstime, the fall menu was still in full swing, with autumnal veggies such as butternut squash starring in everything from salads to flatbreads to pie.

Brussels sprouts

My server talked up the Brussels sprouts, but I was reluctant to take his recommendation, thinking I’ve tried pretty much every preparation imaginable. After seeing them land on a neighboring table, I changed my mind—and I’m glad that I did. The tender sprouts were well matched with earthy shitake and oyster mushrooms, sambal-spiced miso vinaigrette and sil-gochu, a traditional Korean garnish made from thread-thin slices of chile pepper. These sprouts will stick around until March, when they will likely make a graceful exit to make room for a spring asparagus preparation, says True Food Kitchen brand chef Robert McCormick.

A stable of other dishes make residence all year, including the delicate edamame dumplings in a savory dashi broth, savory salads and three kinds of burgers: grass-fed beef, turkey and the beet-based Unbeetable burger.

Unbeetable Burger

There’s also the grilled salmon, an entrée full of varied textures and flavors. Accompanying the rich and flaky fish is a pesto-like sauce made from pumpkin seeds and cilantro, roasted beet cubes tossed with arugula, and a lovely grain salad of farro and quinoa with caramelized onions and smoky paprika. 


There’s a section of the menu called “bowls,” but you won’t find them filled with the traditional pasta or rice. Instead, they’re heaping with grains or noodle alternatives that are lower on the glycemic index (which, as Dr. Weil’s books will tell you, can help curb chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease).

The Korean noodle bowl is the restaurant’s take on a traditional japchae, made with sweet potato glass noodles, tangy pickled shiitakes, spinach, carrots, and bean sprouts in a tongue-tingling sauce. Another option—set to debut on the winter menu—is the Winter Immunity Bowl, or as McCormick describes it, “our version of chicken noodle soup.” It starts with dashi broth infused with kuzu, a Himalayan root that helps settle the gut and stabilize blood sugar, McCormick says. Add to that immunity-boosting lion’s mane mushrooms, garlic puree, garbanzo beans, edamame, marinated kale, farro, and quinoa and you have a steaming, soothing remedy to help you survive cold and flu season.

The feel-good vibes will continue throughout 2020 when True Food Kitchen’s yoga and brunch promotion debuts. The staff clears out the dining room’s tables to make room for mats and brings in a yoga instructor to teach a class; after, yogis are invited to stay for brunch with a 15 percent discount. Namaste, indeed. 

Photos courtesy True Food Kitchen