America's Greenest Restaurants of 2014 (Slideshow)
April 22, 2014
These top restaurants have “gone green” in a big way
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.
18) Sugar & Olives, Norwalk, Connecticut
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 crêpes like the house "Sugar and Olives" crêpe that’s stuffed with greenery, leeks, fennel, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, sweet onions, peas, and leeks. Dinner items include the whole poussin roasted with rosemary and onions.
17) Michael Jordan's Chicago Steakhouse, Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City’s famous steakhouse on the Magnificent Mile has received a three-star rating for GRA in categories including chemicals and pollution reduction, furnishing and building materials, energy, food, water and waste, among other factors. The menu has classic steakhouse items including colossal crab cakes with Meyer lemon aioli, chilled shellfish platters with shrimp, crab, oysters and lobsters, along with a variety of steaks ranging from Delmonico to grass fed rib eye.
16) Dell‘Anima, New York, New York
This quaint Italian eatery in the West Village has a menu that changes daily while using local, seasonal, and sustainably harvested produce wherever possible. It has received a three-star rating from the GRA. Dell ‘Anima boasts a fresh-made pasta menu and menu items such as cioppino, pollo al diavolo with broccoli rabe and chilies, and braised short ribs with tomato sugo and Anson Mills polenta.
15) Del Posto, New York, New York
The Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group makes every effort to make sure their restaurants meet certain environmental standards, particularly for their award-winning, Del Posto. The restaurant’s green initiatives include alternative fuel sources, energy benchmarking programs, sustainable food purchasing plans, and a corporate-wide participation in both Meatless Mondays and a no bottled water policy, among other efforts. The restaurant offers a variety of tasting menus with accompanying wine pairings with a focus on local and seasonal dishes.
14) Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles eatery Osteria Mozza believes in sustainability and going green. It focuses on food waste composting, alternative fuel sources, energy benchmarking programs and Green Seal Certified cleaning products. 31 percent of the food purchased for the restaurant is vegan, 10 percent of the total monthly food purchases are vegetarian and 5 percent of the total monthly seafood purchases are sustainable. The menu has extensive antipasti options including grilled octopus and baby kale as well as a variety of pastas with wild boar ragù, and linguini with clams.
13) Candle 79, New York, New York
New York’s Candle 79 is one of the city’s most popular vegan restaurants. It is dedicated to using local ingredients as well as organic produce, whenever possible. Every dish produced in Candle 79’s kitchen is free of pesticides, chemicals, and hormones, and the restaurant does not use any genetically modified foods. In terms of its green practices recognized by the GRA, the restaurant uses only non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and sanitizers, recycles glass, plastics, metals, grease, paper, old computers and electronics, printer cartridges, and more. Menu items like the live avocado-tomato tartare and the spring vegetable and mushroom crêpe are crowd pleasers.
12) Frontera Grill & Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
Launched by famed chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are quite eco-friendly, with three-star ratings given by GRA. The cuisine at 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) Rouge Tomate, New York, New York
This Michelin-starred restaurant is considered one of New York City’s best. While the cuisine is top notch, the restaurant is also committed to the green movement. It’s received a three-star rating from the GRA in categories including water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling among other efforts. Attention to health and detail is everything for the restaurant. Its executive chef Jeremy Bearman and executive pastry chef James Distefano work with a culinary nutritionist, Kristy Del Coro, to create dishes made from the best ingredients from local purveyors.
10) The Green Sage, Asheville, North Carolina
The Green Sage Coffeehouse and Café in Asheville, N.C., now with two locations, 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 made from reclaimed wood 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.
9) Pizzeria Rustica, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pizzeria Rustica in Colorado Springs, Colo., is known for having 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 and gluten-free options on the menu.
8) GustOrganics, New York, New York
GustOrganics is the only four-star GRA rated restaurant in New York City. It uses only wind energy, utilizessolar lighting, and has biodegradable take out containers, cups, and flatware. The extensive menu offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items like its vegan and gluten-free huevos rancheros and its vegan veggie burger. Its dinner menu also boasts paleo and macrobiotic dining options.
7) French Broad Chocolates, Asheville, North Carolina
French Broad has earned a four-star rating from the GRA. It has a 5-panel solar hot water system, including a 97 percent efficient hot water heater, along with occupancy sensors and more Energy Star-certified appliances. Inside the chocolate lounge, the restaurant serves a variety of cakes including the Highland mocha stout cake, the flourless chocolate torte, and the Theros olive oil chocolate cake, among a variety of cookies, brownies and macaroons.
6) Manito Tap House, Spokane, Washington:
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, Wash. 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.
5) Ruggles Green, Houston, Texas
Ruggles Green is famous for being Houston’s first certified green restaurant, that continues to uphold it four-star GRA rating. 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 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 into biofuel. This year, the Ruggles restaurants have also launched a killer brunch list with items like gluten-free lemon poppy seed pancakes.
4) Kona Pub & Brewery, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Kona Pub & Brewery on the Big Island is a restaurant and brewing company that believes the future of the Earth depends on how we treat it, 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 with the Kawaihae Cajun seared Ahi tuna, served sashimi-style.
3) Big Delicious Planet, Chicago, Illinois
This four-star certified GRA restaurant is located in a former metal shop in West Town that has been completely renovated to include an energy efficient geothermal system. It also launched its own urban farm on premises back in 2012 where it grows over 80 varietals of organic vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. Another draw for the restaurant is their farm-to-table dinners in their garden that promotes local farmers in their region with a several course meal tailored to meat eaters, vegans, and vegetarians alike.
2) Uncommon Ground, Chicago, Illinois
Uncommon Ground now has two outposts in Chicago, one in Lakeview and a new location in Edgewater. 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. It still has bragging rights for launching the country’s first organic rooftop garden and farm.
1) The Grey Plume, Omaha, Nebraska
The Grey Plume believes in an eco-friendly dining environment and with the 90 percent recycled content floors to the extensive LED lighting throughout the space, they’ve created one. It has received a four-star rating from the GRA and remains top of the heap amongst its competitors. 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. 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.