Story and photos by KJ Philp, May 2016 Issue.
You are about to embark on a journey to food enlightenment, courtesy of Flower Child. This journey, according to the restaurant’s website (iamaflowerchild.com), starts with a “fundamental promise to serve healthy food for a happy world” and includes trendy foods, a bright and buzzing atmosphere and even yoga mat parking. Seriously.
One might expect an establishment adorned in peace signs and inspirational quotes to be a hidden hippie hideaway. But this sanctuary of peace, love and wholesome goodness is absolutely for everyone.
As a long-time diner at the Arcadia location of this Fox Restaurant Concepts fast-casual eatery, I was thrilled when the renovation and restoration efforts of Uptown Plaza at Central Avenue and Camelback Road revealed the Valley’s third location (open since November 2015).
The trick here is getting your hands on the menu before approaching the counter to order. At first the array of healthy selections, boasting locally sourced ingredients and all-natural meats, seems simple enough – the menu is divided into sides, salads, bowls, wraps and healthy kids – but upon closer inspection, you’ll find many innovative combinations vying for your attention.
Let’s start with the beverage selection. Flower Child has red and white wine, local beer and GT’s Trilogy kombucha on tap. Then there’s the fresh juices (made to order) or the ridiculously delicious seasonal lemonade and iced tea bar. Conveniently, there’s also a cold case with additional offerings, including coconut water right out of the coconut.
In my hummus opinion, you should absolutely start with the avocado hummus, which comes topped with a garnish of sweet corn, radish, clementine and pumpkin seeds. I prefer to not share this somewhat small serving of green goodness, which comes with house-made whole-wheat flax and chia seed triangles (the same pita/tortilla hybrid the wraps come enveloped in), unless you opt for the raw veggies upgrade. And simple hummus, with peppadew, olive, lemon and oregano, is also available.
If you want to capture the true essence of Flower Child in one sitting, the “Mix ‘N Match” sides are the way to go – but you have to go all out and select three of the 14 or so options (that are subject to change seasonally).
From more exotic flavors, such as Indian spiced cauliflower with turmeric, dates and almonds and the red chili glazed sweet potatoes with bok choy and sesame seeds to the trusted staples, including organic smashed potatoes and gluten free mac & cheese, this eclectic assortment of sides is just another example of precisely what makes Flower Child a crowd pleaser.
Personally, I always order the roasted beets, avocado and tangerine salad – it’s the perfect side for spring. But keep an eye out for their annual summer offering that includes heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, Thai basil and sea salt. It is No. 1 in my book.
The six salads available here – from the organic kale with decadent fruit to an almost traditional Mediterranean – cover the entire vegetable spectrum and each come with the most perfect complementary vinaigrette. However, it’s the vegan Caesar that I find most tantalizing. With cauliflower, avocado, sun-dried olives, baby tomato, spinach, sunflower seeds and a lemon tahini vinaigrette, this is one of the more bold and innovative takes on a dairy substitute that I’ve ever tried (and continue to crave).
The menu also offers four variations of wraps to choose from. Since the Thai Dye is the only vegetarian/vegan option (though customizations can be made), I’ve become very well acquainted with the spicy tofu, Thai basil, avocado, carrot, daikon radish, cilantro and snap pea, and it never disappoints.
On my most recent visit, an office pilgrimage for lunch, two of my coworkers opted for the Flying Avocado wrap and it was met with rave reviews. With grilled chicken, smoked Gouda, romaine, tomato and more of that delightful avocado hummus, what’s not to love?
Next up are the glorious bowl selections. While pursuing these fresh and colorful combinations I’m continually tempted by the Thai cashew quinoa bowl, which comes with zucchini, snap peas, celery, onion, shiitake mushrooms, jalapenos, Thai basil, cashews and red quinoa, but I was informed by an incredibly helpful cashier that this option is not marked vegan or vegetarian because there is chicken broth used in the preparation.
Instead, I opted for Mother Earth (the clearly marked vegan option) on a recent dinner visit. This bowl boasts ancient grains, sweet potato, portabella mushrooms, avocados, cucumber, broccoli pesto, leafy greens, red pepper, miso vinaigrette and hemp seeds. Much to my surprise, this bowl came out cold and, out of all the selections I’ve savored here, was my least favorite.
Conversely, my dining companions ordered the Late Riser and the Madras Curry bowls. The Late Riser, a tribute to brunch that is available all day, comes with cage-free eggs, heirloom beans, quinoa, roasted chiles, salsa, avocado, corn, Greek yogurt and queso blanco was a hit (even well beyond your typical brunch hours).
The Madras Curry bowl features organic potatos, heirloom carrots, green beans, sweet onion, cilantro, garam masala and coconut. All of the bowls are vegetarian or vegan to begin with; however, you’ll likely be asked if you’d like to add your choice of protein – all-natural chicken, sustainable salmon, grass-fed steak or organic tofu.
If you have a sweet tooth, take note of the baked goods carefully displayed at the cash register while ordering – as far as I can tell, this is the extent of the deserts options here.
Don’t let Flower Child’s hippie-chic theme intimidate you – this is a perfect dining destination for anyone looking for a fresher, healthier and more user-friendly assortment of palate-pleasing culinary creations. You might not agree, but I am without a doubt a flower child.