Yes, we also read all those “How to avoid gaining weight during the holidays” stories.
No, we didn’t listen either.
If you’re feeling that post-holiday food fatigue from downing one-too-many Christmas cookies, here’s something healthy to chew on: San Diego has more restaurants serving good-for-you-fare than ever before.
The past few years have seen a boon in eateries with options spanning the vegan, organic, gluten-free, super-food and antioxidant spectrum. And in just the closing weeks of 2016, San Diego welcomed Flower Child - True Food Kitchen’s casual sister restaurant - to Del Mar, the popular Mendocino Farms made its San Diego debut and the juice and superfood Vitality Bowls chain expanded to the UTC area.
What’s behind this healthy growth spurt?
“It’s really a lifestyle here,” said Marty Kleine, owner of the newest all-organic Vitality Bowls location (there are also outposts in Chula Vista and Carlsbad” href="https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/topic/san-diego-county/carlsbad-SDCT0001-topic.html">Carlsbad).
“People are very aware of what processed sugars and additives are doing to us. And young kids know more about it than anyone."
So if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to make more healthy choices in 2017, here’s a select list of places that’ll help you achieve that goal. Keep in mind that not all gluten-free is fat-free, not all vegan dishes are low-cal, etc. Just use some healthy common sense when ordering.
Occupying the multilevel former Sea & Smoke space at Flower Hill Promenade, Flower Child’s salads, grains, bowls and wraps are made of local produce, organic and “gluten-lite” ingredients. A “Healthy Kids” menu and organic wine and kombucha on tap make this fast-casual offshoot of True Food Kitchen a family-friendly spot. Flower Child promises “Healthy food for a happy world” and Del Martians are clearly happy - the lines are out the door. 2690 Via De La Valle, Del Mar. (858) 314-6818 or iamaflowerchild.com
This ever-expanding L.A.-based fast-casual empire made its name with creative sandwiches like the Not So Fried Chicken sandwich (roasted chicken on toasted ciabatta with herb aioli and crispy buttermilk batter bits, aka "Mendo’s krispies”). But options for eating well also include vegan specialties like BBQ Tempeh Picnic sandwich and nutrient-charged salads like the Avocado & Quinoa Superfood Ensalada. 8795 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla. (858) 731-8130 or mendocinofarms.com
Joining locations in Chula Vista and Carlsbad is the latest Vitality Bowls Superfood Café in the UTC area. Organic antioxidant darling açaí berries are the base for multi-ingredient bowls that read like a nutritionist’s dream menu (flax, hemp and chia seeds, blueberries, Goji berries, broccoli, kale, almond milk, etc.). Ten kinds of smoothies and nine juices with names such The Powernator and The Detoxifier sound like vitality in a glass. 8935 Towne Centre Drive, La Jolla. (858) 412-4891 or vitalitybowls.com
Well, new-ish. The veggie-centric fast-casual chain, with locations at Westfield UTC and Carlsbad, recently introduced the VG Beyond Burger to its menu. If the name sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen the Beyond Burger by Beyond Meat in your grocer’s meat case. And though it “looks, cooks and tastes” like ground beef, this patty is all plant-based. Served with grilled onions, special sauce and vegan American “cheese." 965 Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad and 4354 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite H28, La Jolla. (760) 438-0034 and (858) 458-0031 or veggiegrill.com
Probably the hippest vegan spot in the county, restaurant/cocktail lounge offers everything from the soulful Memphis BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich to the sexy Cosmic Key cocktail. 1503 30th St., South Park. (619) 546-9653 or barkindred.com
The Curious Fork
A gluten-free breakfast and lunch café serves wholesome, made-from-scratch goodness like the spinach and mushroom breakfast bowl. You can also pick up your Garden of Eden CSA boxes here. 512 Via De La Valle, No. 102, Solana Beach. (858) 876-6386 or thecuriousfork.com
We can’t get enough of the farm-to-fork salads and grilled veggie plates. And if we’re being honest, we’re also smitten with the brownies, cookies and (at select locations) fried chicken. Locations in downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, Liberty Station and La Jolla-UTC; see tendergreens.com
True Food Kitchen
San Diego’s most elegant wellness-minded restaurant is appropriately located in Fashion Valley’s designer alley, between Hermès and Bloomingdale’s. The ladies who lunch have to eat somewhere; might as well be delicious. 7007 Friars Road, Mission Valley. (619) 810-2929 or truefoodkitchen.com
Jyoti-Bihanga and Moncai Vegan
These Adams Avenue neighbors share a healthy culinary spirit, not just a similar Normal Heights address. Moncai was an all-vegan pioneer when it opened in North Park in 2010 and its $14 brunch plate special is a veritable feast (pancakes, smoked tempeh bacon, drop biscuits with mushroom gravy and much more). The vegetarian Jyoti-Bihanga, meanwhile, pulls out all the brunch stops for its all-you-can-eat buffet, with vegan apple cake, challah french toast and (!) fresh biscuits and mushroom gravy. Moncai: 3531 Adams Ave., Normal Heights. (619) 228-9881, moncai-vegan.com; Jyoti-Bihanga: 3351 Adams Ave., Normal Heights. (619) 282-4116 or jyotibihanga.com