Scaring up healthy food

Gluten-free tastes good at Flower Child

Steak wrap – meat juices combined with the onion and yogurt.
  • Steak wrap – meat juices combined with the onion and yogurt.

My son was ready for a rite of passage: Going through the haunted attractions at the Scream Zone on the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Flower Child

2690 Via de la Valle, Del Mar

Yes, at the age of 12, he was ready to deal with jump scares, creepy cackles, and strobe lights, lots of strobe lights.

Skinny Cobb salad

Skinny Cobb salad

Me? I was hungry, but I didn’t want to feel stuffed and full while being chased by zombies.

Luckily, there was a place near the Scream Zone that fit the bill: Flower Child, a fast casual restaurant with the motto, “Healthy Food For A Happy World.”

Watermelon and heirloom tomato

Watermelon and heirloom tomato

Flower Child has roots in Arizona, but its sole San Diego location is at, appropriately enough, the Flower Hill Mall — how’s that for synergy?



Flower Child shares many qualities with other fast casual places like Panera: Brightly lit interiors, an order counter and serve-yourself fountain drinks. But the place differentiates itself with a menu that is mostly plant-based. Don’t worry carnivores: steak, chicken and salmon are protein options for the salads and bowls.

Dining room

Dining room

Flower Child was recommended to me by a friend. The fact that it was convenient to the Scream Zone was a selling point, but the menu didn’t seem that special when I looked at it: Just wraps, sandwiches, bowls, and salads with degrees of healthiness.

We started out with an appetizer plate ($9) that included three items: Indian-spiced cauliflower, gluten-free mac and cheese, and a small salad of watermelon and heirloom tomato flavored with a saba vinaigrette, mint, basi, and smoked salt.

The spiced cauliflower was crisp and tender with a light dusting of turmeric and mixed with date and almond. The watermelon and heirloom tomato salad was juicy; the salt enhanced the natural sweetness in the fruits.

I was skeptical about gluten-free mac and cheese, but Flower Child’s mac was creamy and cheesy and not sticky like gluten-free foods I’ve had. My son ate most of it before I could. Fine, let the zombies chase him.

We split a Skinny Cobb salad ($9) which has corn, almond, cucumber, cabbage, and arugula topped with a tangy gorgonzola vinaigrette. I could have had this topped with a protein, but I didn’t miss the meat. My son found it too tangy. Oh well, more for me.

For entrees, my son and I each got wraps: He got the Flying Avocado ($12), which comes with smoked turkey, gouda, romaine, tomato and avocado hummus. I got the Rebel ($13), which came with steak, charred onion, cheese, arugula and horseradish yogurt.

The turkey wrap was respectable, but in the steak one, meat juices combined with the onion and yogurt.

My son thought he liked the turkey, until he tried mine, and then he negotiated a trade for my other half.

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