When Arik Markus took over as executive brand chef of True Food Kitchen, a health-minded restaurant and mini empire based out of Arizona, he set about making his mark. Not unnecessarily so, but just enough to bring a small degree of unexplored flavor and texture to the stalwart menu. (Don’t worry, the legendary Tuscan kale and Ingredient salads are never going away, nor will they be tinkered with.)

On the spring menu, three dishes bear Markus’ stamp: the Moroccan chicken (pictured), the seared scallops, and the super berry tart. For the entrées, Markus—whose credentials include Daniel and Le Bernardin in New York City, and Row 14 and Zeal closer to home—tapped his eclectic roots. Born in Israel and raised in Manhattan, Markus pulled in ingredients such as chermoula, a spicy north African sauce often used as a marinade, and Middle Eastern freekah, a smoky young, green wheat that’s fire-roasted in its husk.

The chicken dish, in particular, is a hit with warm ethnic flavors that embolden chickpeas, figs, and olives, while still managing to taste familiar and homey. The entrée, Markus says “has been flying” off the menu at all 10 True Food locations. The feedback, the chef says, serves as guidance to work more ethnic spices and flavors into the restaurant’s repertoire. By the summer menu, Markus’ influence will be felt even more—and I bet it’ll be delicious.

2800 E. Second Ave., 720-509-7661

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.