Going green is not just a food trend anymore — it’s a movement and it’s here to stay. To that end, The Daily Meal has supercharged its annual list of the greenest restaurants in America in celebration of Earth Day, and from a vegetarian café in New York to a tap house in Spokane, restaurants are getting greener by the day.
The Green Restaurant Association (GRA), which works with restaurants on environmental assessment and consulting, certification, and green public relations and marketing, has created a rating system for restaurants (with four stars being the best) that takes into account water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction.
“The biggest trend is that there are more restaurants doing this [being certified] than last year, and there are more famous chefs doing this now than last year,” Michael Oshman, CEO and founder of The GRA, told us. What’s critical, he added, is that the food industry as a whole doesn’t wait for new green technologies to be developed to make improvements to their businesses. “The most important thing is not waiting for the new technology, it’s utilizing the technology that we have today,” he said.
The GRA has an entire database that lists certified restaurants along with their ratings. Not limited just to known restaurants being certified across the country such as Blackbird in Chicago and Carnevino in Las Vegas, the GRA has also certified campus eateries at universities, showcasing the schools’ commitment to promote green dining.
There are also plenty of green dining initiatives going on around the country and world. Recently, the GRA certified MetLife Stadium in New Jersey as the first green dining stadium in history. The minimum requirements for receiving this certification included going Styrofoam-free, having a full recycling program, reaching 100 GreenPoint’s total and reaching 10 GreenPoints each in energy, water, waste, chemicals, food, and packaging. It’s also worth noting that Boston University has several on-campus eateries that received a four-star rating from the GRA as well as one at Loyola Marymount University. Corporate eateries like On Twelve located in the AllianceBernstein Building in New York and the Restaurant at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Connecticut are also leading the charge with their green initiatives.
The GRA's list of the greenest restaurants was formulated by their star ranking system, but to compile our list we have dug a little deeper to find the best restaurants across the country with standout cuisine that boasts top green certification too. The Daily Meal’s list is comprised of three- and four-starred GRA restaurants throughout the U.S. that feature superb cuisine in addition to unique approaches to bettering the growing green restaurant community.
Read on for our list of the best green restaurants across America, and click here to see what restaurants made the cut last year.
20) Slapfish, Huntington Beach, California
Casual seafood eatery Slapfish in Huntington Beach is serious about its environmental and green efforts and has a three-star rating from the GRA to show for it. It takes sustainability to a whole new level by working closely with multiple organizations to utilize the most current data on over-fishing, harmful fishing practices, and responsible fish-farming. It has partnered with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and Seafood for the Future to source the highest quality, healthy seafood it can find. Menu favorites include the Baja Mahi sandwich and the bacon-wrapped lobster dog.
19) Luella's Bar-B-Que, Asheville, North Carolina
This casual barbeque dining concept is dedicated to sustainability and good cooking coming from its garden. All of the chicken used at the restaurant is hormone and antibiotic free and it fries its food with non-hydrogenated soybean oil. All of the restaurant’s oils are recycled by Blue Ridge Biofuels. The menu boasts a variety of barbeque favorites such as chili rubbed beef brisket, local BBQ tempeh, and chopped pork BBQ.