By Madison Rutherford
Flower Child opens fourth Arizona location at Desert Ridge
Flower Child proves it’s the little things in life that mean anything.
For the fast-casual health food chain, it’s things like serving seasonal lemonade out of mason jars and ensuring each table is adorned with fresh flowers or succulents.
The restaurant is the newest addition to a fast-growing family of approachable, chef-driven dining establishments at Desert Ridge. In the last year alone, MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza, Sizzle Korean BBQ and Barrio Queen have also set up shop at the North Phoenix shopping destination.
In addition to shopping, catching a movie, painting pottery, romping around the splash pad or enjoying live music, Desert Ridge visitors can choose from a growing smorgasbord of classy-casual eateries.
Flower Child is one of many successful culinary ventures created by Fox Restaurant Concepts, which is also responsible for local luminaries like Culinary Dropout, Wildflower and Olive & Ivy.
The Desert Ridge location, which opened its doors two months ago, is the fourth Flower Child in the Valley; there are also locations in Arcadia, Uptown Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Flower Child’s clientele is somewhere between bon vivant and bohemian. It’s certainly the type of place you’d want to take your Lulu Lemon-clad cousin visiting from L.A., but it’s also a great place to take the kids for a Sunday evening dinner. A place called Flower Child is obligated to have a menu for children (right?), and with items like gluten-free mac and cheese, sweet corn and quinoa, and broccoli with parmesan, the kid’s menu doesn’t disappoint.
Patrons will find a designated place for their yoga mats – a wicker basket by the entrance labeled “Yoga Mat Parking” – so they can focus on enjoying a fresh-pressed juice, protein-packed wrap, from-scratch salad or a slew of seasonal goodies.
This hip hotspot is also big on sustainability. Flower Child works exclusively with farmers who respect and protect their land and livestock. They also purchase only organic produce and abide by the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, a popular guide used to measure pesticide levels in food. The chain prides itself on being part of a “food revolution,” promising to serve naturally raised proteins, organic fruits and vegetables and locally sourced ingredients when possible.
As far as the food goes, Flower Child focuses on vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free options. However, that doesn’t mean carnivores can’t enjoy their flavorful fast-casual fare. Guests can choose to add all-natural chicken, sustainable salmon, grass-fed steak or organic, non-GMO tofu to any dish.
We recommend starting with the Avocado Hummus ($7), garnished with sweet corn, radish, clementine and pumpkin seeds, and served with fresh, warm pita bread. It’s hearty without being too filling, and a great dish to share between two (or more!) people.
The salads are a standout menu item, melding innovative sweet and savory elements to revitalize the senses. The Vegan Ingredient ($8) gets high marks for both taste and texture, with a mouthwatering medley of crisp romaine lettuce, cauliflower, avocado, roasted corn, baby tomatoes, sun-dried olives and sunflower seeds, lightly drizzled with a tangy lemon tahini vinaigrette. I tried it with the tofu, which is some of the best I’ve tried in the Valley; it’s charred and crispy on the outside, with a smooth, silky interior.
If you want to spice things up, try the Thai Cashew Quinoa bowl ($9), a crunchy kaleidoscope of zucchini, snap peas, celery, onions, shiitake mushrooms, jalapeño, Thai basil, cashews and red quinoa.
In addition to its bowls, wraps and salads, Flower Child is known for putting a healthy spin on classic comfort foods like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Snack on a side of the creamy smashed organic potatoes with roasted garlic and thyme or the sautéed spinach with garlic, chili flakes and lemon alongside your preference of protein.
If you’re thirsty, try a fresh juice, pressed daily ($7.50). The juice du jour when I visited was a tart, tangerine-tinged concoction with carrot, strawberry, lemon, apple and ginger.
What’s on tap? Different flavors of kombucha and Arizona brews including Four Peaks White Ale, Prescott Brewing Company IPA and Lumberyard Diamond Down Lager, with the option to “make it a shandy” (add lemonade) for an extra 50 cents.
Flower Child offers counter service only, and there is almost always a line, which gives you time to peruse the menu. If you’re feeling indecisive, the cashiers are all extremely knowledgeable about each menu item and can describe each dish in more detail if asked. Employees often mill around the dining area as well, in case customers have any questions or concerns after they order.
As for the ambience, Flower Child is a haven dedicated to healthy eating in a hip, hospitality-driven environment that is slightly reminiscent of a spacious, upscale greenhouse. The 4,461-foot space features large sash windows and white brick walls covered in colorful murals and a cluster of eclectic wall art including framed posters, mirrors, bird cages and a canary yellow cuckoo clock. Sage-hued shelves line the edge of the ceiling, supporting a collection of potted plants, vintage watering cans, stacks of books and ornate vases. The color scheme is heavily dominated by bright greens and yellows.
It’s almost always bustling at Flower Child, but there are more than enough tables to support the throngs of hungry customers. Cozy booths and tables with wicker chairs are plentiful inside, while a sprawling patio accommodates guests outside. Though outdoor seating wasn’t a popular choice when I visited in the summer, it’s sure to be well-trafficked in the cooler months.
The food is on the pricier side (expect to pay roughly $20 per person) and the portions are small, but at Flower Child, you are paying more for quality than quantity.
And while you may not have the type of lifestyle where you can stop in for a late lunch and leisurely read a book after hot yoga, Flower Child is also a great place to stop for a light bite before heading to AMC so you don’t feel so guilty about gorging on popcorn.
It’s the little things, after all.
21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Phoenix
The Flower Child location at Desert Ridge is one of four in the Valley.