America’s Greenest Restaurants of 2013 Slideshow
April 11, 2013
15) The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland
When owners Jonathon and Amelia Sawyer first opened The Greenhouse Tavern, they collaborated with the GRA to become the first green restaurant in Ohio. While the restaurant uses recyclables and highly developed methods of composting, sources alternate energy, and specializes in conservation practices, it also is involved with local Slow Food Convivium and the Cuyahoga Valley Conservation Society. By doing so, the chefs have crafted menus that are completely defined by the land of the local communities. Some house specialties include Ohio black walnut soup and duck zampone with braised winter kale, chestnut, apple, and sage.
14) Sugar & Olives, Norwalk, Conn.
Sugar & Olives in Norwalk, Conn., takes a seasonal approach to its cuisine. In terms of the ingredients, the beef is grass-fed and sustainably raised at farms in upstate New York, and the poultry is organic and free-range, and locally sourced when possible. The restaurant also accommodates diners who are vegetarians, gluten-free, vegan and pescatarians. The French-inspired menu showcases crepes like the house "Sugar and Olives" crepe that’s stuffed with greenery, leeks, fennel, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, sweet onions, peas, and leeks.
13) Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Los Angeles hot spot Osteria Mozza takes its green responsibility seriously. It focuses on food waste composting, alternative fuel sources, energy benchmarking programs, sustainable food purchasing plans, Green Seal Certified cleaning products, and corporate-wide participation in both Meatless Monday and a no bottled water policy. The menu has extensive antipasti options including grilled octopus and baby kale and a variety of pastas with wild boar ragù and linguini with clams.
12) Frontera Grill & Topolobampo, Chicago
Launched by famed chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are quite eco-friendly, with three-star ratings given by GRA. The cuisine Frontera Grill consists of a monthly changing menu of traditional Mexican dishes showcasing rich moles, wood-grilled meats, and chile-thickened braises. There’s also a variety of Mexican street food on the menu like tamales and smoky shortrib flautas. Bayless was also instrumental in launching the Frontera Farm Foundation, which was created out of concern for struggling farmers and a desire to showcase the importance of local produce to Chicago’s culinary culture.
11) Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.
Founding Farmers is a LEED-certified restaurant, which means the architecture and interiors have been constructed and created with minimum impact on the environment. It’s also a partner of Carbonfund, supporting global climate-friendly renewable energy projects, and is 100 percent carbon neutral by offsetting its carbon dioxide emissions annually with the purchase of carbon credits. The entire menu is based on the farmers' harvest and seasonal ingredients. Depending on the season, the crop list and market sides could include garden squash, okra, and asparagus salad.
9) Bamboo Sushi, Portland, Ore.
Bamboo Sushi, located in Portland, Ore., is the first sustainable sushi restaurant not only in the U.S., but in the entire world. To keep that coveted title, the restaurant brings in the freshest seafood, meat, and produce paying close attention to marine stewardship, sustainability, and the environment. To that end, it partners with the Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Blue Ocean Institute, Salmon Nation, KidSafe Seafood, and the GRA in an attempt to make sure the restaurant is producing the freshest seafood while still saving the oceans and the marine life. The restaurant itself has an all new LED lighting system, which shines light and power on its 3,200-square-foot space using less than the power of one 100-watt bulb. With a full kitchen and sushi bar menu, signature seafood dishes like grilled mackerel that's drizzled in red chile oil, topped with pickled mustard caviar, and seasoned with lemon charcoal and alder wood smoke might just be a standout.
8) Manito Tap House, Spokane, Wash.
Located on the historic South Hill in the Comstock Neighborhood of Spokane, Wash., Manito Tap House offers 50 tap handles (filled with various craft brews), Northwest wines, and mixed drinks to customers. It boasts a four-star rating from the GRA, and that's due in part to its building practices. The restaurant was built by using reclaimed barn wood from Reardan to line its walls, while its bathroom counters are made from recycled paper. It also has LED and compact fluorescent lighting systems, is brightened with paint using zero volatile organic compounds, and is cleaned with eco-friendly cleaning products. The menu is filled with items made from scratch, including the Comstock quinoa salad and the pear and spinach salad.
7) Babbo, New York City
One of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants is also one of the country’s most eco-friendly. Mario Batali’s Babbo has a three-star rating from the GRA, due in part to the fact that the restaurant uses 100 percent reusable plating and silverware for staff meals, pre- and post-consumer waste is composted, and it has reusable linen table top covers. While many visit Babbo for its exquisite pasta tasting menu, the menu also includes seafood specialties such as Spicy Two-Minute Calamari Sicilian Lifeguard Style and whole grilled branzino.
6) Ruggles Green, Houston
Ruggles Green is Houston’s first certified green restaurant. With that comes a big responsibility, but the small restaurant chain is up for the challenge. With a menu that has gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan- and dairy-free options, diners can enjoy fresh food that they can feel good about eating. With everything from soups to tacos to wood-fire-grilled pizza, the extensive menu is crafted from premier local and organic ingredients. All of the restaurant’s glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal are recycled and it even recycles its fry oil to convert into biofuel.
5) The Green Sage, Asheville, N.C.
The Green Sage Coffeehouse and Café in Asheville, N.C., is at the forefront of the city’s green dining movement. The menu accommodates those following a gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan diet and uses meats that are antibiotic-, hormone-, and preservative free. Additional green efforts include a compost and recycling station and cabinets are made from word reclaimed from old house rafters, among other initiatives. The restaurant’s burgers and hot sandwiches can be filled with grass-fed beef, chicken breast, or grilled tempeh. Rice bowls, citrus kale bowls, and lentil soup are also crowd-pleasers for those choosing to dine at The Green Sage.
4) Pizzeria Rustica, Colorado Springs, Colo.
At Pizzeria Rustica in Colorado Springs, Colo., it’s all about the finest and freshest ingredients around. The Italian restaurant supports local and organic food by purchasing from Colorado farmers’ markets in season and from the Colorado Springs greenhouses, who grow for the restaurant. It uses the slow food method of preparation when it comes to its cuisine, particularly in the hand-stretching of its pizza dough. With a four-star rating from the GRA, Pizzeria Rustica is committed to using reusable napkins when serving its Neapolitan-style pizzas, which are meant to be eaten with a knife and fork, and there are many vegetarian options on the menu.
2) The Grey Plume, Omaha, Neb.
The Grey Plume is one of the only restaurants in the country with a four-star rating from GRA. It believes in an eco-friendly dining environment and has created one, with the 90 percent recycled content floors to the extensive LED lighting throughout the space. In terms of water and energy conservation, the restaurant has Energy Star refrigerators, ice machines, and office equipment, and the most energy-efficient dishwasher available on the market. And when you’re done marveling at the beautiful and sustainable space and are ready to chow down, the menus are printed with soy-based ink on recycled paper. Perhaps sample the duck fat fries and the local oyster mushroom soup. But be prepared to ask for the specials!
1) Uncommon Ground, Chicago
Officially touted as the "greenest restaurant in America" by the GRA, the Chicago-based restaurant stole the title from The Grey Plume in Omaha, Neb., after launching the country’s first organic rooftop garden and farm. The cuisine at Uncommon Ground contains seasonal, locally produced, family farmed, and organic products that have spawned dishes like organic white bean purée; blackened duck breast with spaghetti squash, sautéed sweet onions, spinach, baby carrots, and pear-cranberry sauce; and Lake Superior whitefish with green lentils, baby vegetables, celery root, and sherry bacon gastrique.
6) Ruggles Green, Houston
Ruggles Green is Houstons first certified green restaurant. With that comes a big responsibility, but the small restaurant chain is up for the challenge. With a menu that has gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan- and dairy-free options, diners can enjoy fresh food that they can feel good about eating. With everything from soups to tacos to wood-fire-grilled pizza, the extensive menu is crafted from premier local and organic ingredients. All of the restaurants glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal are recycled and it even recycles its fry oil to convert into biofuel.
3) Kona Pub & Brewery, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
On the Big Island of Hawaii lies Kona Pub & Brewery, a restaurant and brewing company that believes the future of the Earth depends on how we treat the Earth, which is evident in the restaurants facilities, where most of the building material has been recycled. During its brewing process, the company uses heat exchangers to reclaim thermal energy for water heating and the pub uses a heat-reclamation system on its air conditioner for water heating in the kitchen. At any given time, Kona has around 12 beers on tap and has an extensive beer-to-go menu. Certainly a Longboard Island Lager is the perfect pair to Konas crabcakes served on a bed of green papaya slaw and Cajun aioli sauce.