- Jarone Ashkenazi
Many restaurants in California, especially in Los Angeles, provide guests with farm-to-table, hyper-local, seasonal, and vegetarian menus and sustainable design features. Environmentally friendly restaurants have become one of the hottest trends in the industry, with restaurants using recycled materials, on-site vegetable gardens and other green features. Here are some of the top restaurants in L.A. that have gone green.
Sun Cafe is not only known for serving delicious and fresh cooked and raw vegan food, they are also known for being a sustainable restaurant. They do everything they can to be as eco-friendly as possible, from using reclaimed wood and bricks to build their patio to buying ingredients from companies that only use sustainable practices to decrease their impact on the environment. In addition to practical measures that currently can be seen at the restaurant, they are planning a remodel and will be filming it to show people the steps, tricks, and techniques they can use to upgrade and upcycle their spaces on a nearly $0 budget. ‘We view sustainability as a means of survival, because at this point in time, it is,’ says Nathan Mal, Head Chef at SunCafe.
SunCafe, 10820 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA, USA, +1 818 927 4100
Plant Food + Wine
On Abbot Kinney, Matthew Kenney’s Plant Food + Wine offers a unique experience that revolves around delicious, health-conscious vegan food. On top of only working with plant-based cuisine they source locally, they support growers and have relationships with their farmers. The restaurant was recently awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Award by the Sustainable Business Council of LA, being recognized for their eco-friendly measures which include, environmentally friendly chemicals for kitchen and cleaning, using compostable and recyclable carryout containers, bio-dynamic, organic, sustainable practices for wines, energy-efficient dishwasher and appliances among many others. Furthermore, they compost with the elementary school across the street and support urban farming with their onsite edible gardens. Along with the restaurant, Matthew Kenney Culinary embraces these projects as well and teaches students to minimize waste by using entire ingredients, when possible.
Plant Food + Wine, 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA, USA, +1 310 450 1009
Bar Nine is a coffee company founded on the desire to create forward-thinking and amazing experiences in coffee. At their retail coffee bar inside their roasting works, they wanted that ideal to manifest itself in terms of sustainable practices in addition to the quality of their product and the hospitality they give our guests. To reflect this, they only use glass takeaway cups instead of disposable ones, utilize solar energy and have compostable options for takeaway food and pastry. For their glass jar program, they don’t charge for the jars, instead they use the honor system and ask that guests return them on their next visit. If people bring in 12 at a time, as a thank you they will treat them to a coffee.
Bar Nine, 3515 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA, USA, +1 310 837 7815
The Albright, a local family-owned restaurant located on the Santa Monica Pier known for local fare and craft beer is dedicated to preserving and bettering the Santa Monica community while being as energy-efficient as possible. From keeping all the lights off in the restaurant during the day, to working with The Flores Grease Company, which picks up all the grease in the kitchen and converts it into bio-fuel, The Albright understands that both large and small efforts can make a huge impact. A few but not all of their green initiatives include, making an effort to only furnish their restaurant with re-furbished, re-manufactured or previously used materials, installing awnings to reduce solar heat gain during the warm season, and purchasing Energy Star equipment for their kitchen. These green efforts among others have led them to be recently awarded the Sustainable Quality Award for Stewardship of the Natural Environment (SQA) from the City of Santa Monica.
The Albright, 258 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310 394 9683
At Caffé Bellagio, they are devoted to three main goals, paying homage to their hometown of Bellagio, Italy and its classic quick-service staples such as paninis, piadinas and gelatos/sorbettos, celebrating the access they have locally to such flavorful, organic produce and all-natural proteins, and continuously evolving their commitment to sustainability for the restaurant and surrounding community. When possible, they serve only organic, local produce, with the majority from the Santa Monica Farmers Market, and all-natural, hormone-free, sustainable proteins such as grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs, and free-range chicken. They utilize the local network for any resources they need as they shop twice weekly at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, and their main seafood supplier is Santa Monica Seafood, even their printing company is a green-certified business. By maintaining strong relationships with local farmers, they are able to reduce costs by buying only seasonal produce with so much more flavor that they save by using less product.
Caffé Bellagio, 1400 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310 394 3400
Chef Makani at Pono Burger in Santa Monica serves organic, locally sourced, grass-fed meats, and farm-fresh ingredients from local farmers to create great tasting and environmentally conscious burgers. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own bag, as the restaurant offers a bag credit of $0.10 when customers bring in their own bag for take-out orders. Be sure to speak to Chef Makani about how she is looking to shift the consciousness in her local community as well as being involved in larger eco-friendly practices after trying the limited edition Alekina, which means Argentina in Hawaiian, and features Pono Burger’s organic grass-fed beef patty, house-made chimichurri sauce, organic avocado, Don Juan chorizo, and an organic sweet potato nest.
Pono Burger, 829 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310 584 7005
Shreebs Coffee functions out of a repurposed shipping container in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles and serves organic single-origin locally roasted coffee, in addition to their stylish mobile bar that travels around LA. They are known for our bespoke cold brew latte drinks that are made with Chef Daniel Benhaim’s handcrafted syrups, horchata, choco chili and salted dulce, all made from locally-sourced organic ingredients. All the dairy and other ingredients they incorporate into our drinks are also organic. In addition to that, all of their packaging is earth-friendly and biodegradable. They work exclusively with local vendors for their food options, many of which are very small, taking advantage of the CA Cottage Food License, and when choosing other products to carry, look for items that have a one-for-one give-back program.
Shreebs Coffee, 527 Colyton St, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 424 260 5880
118 Degrees sources its produce from local organic farmers whenever possible and rotates their menu seasonally in an effort to have the freshest flavored dishes and from the most local produce they can find. Along with everything being made in-house from scratch, so they do not have any waste or packaging waste that comes from bottled dressings, sauces, and breads, they recycle all of their paper good waste and wine bottles daily. Their cuisine is entirely plant-based, made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains – all prepared at 118° or lower to preserve valuable nutrients. They are a raw food restaurant that is dairy-free, soy-free, wheat-free, and high in enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, their tables are all made of reclaimed wood and Chef Jenny Ross takes time to educate customers about living foods and how to incorporate this into their own lives.
118 Degrees, 18636 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 818 660 1118
Formerly known as Bel Air Bar + Grill, The Bel-Air changed its name in April 2015, and in October 2015 they transitioned to the current menu under the leadership of Executive Chef Chris Emerling. Susan Disney Lord, who took over the restaurant a decade ago, has transformed The Bel-Air to reflect the neighboring Getty Center through its contemporary design and, after a major reconstruction, guests now enter the restaurant through a grand two-story entryway, sheathed in vibrant images of pink bougainvillea blossoms created by photographic glass artist Amanda Weil. Furthermore, due to her commitment to environmental responsibility, the restaurant features state-of-the-art mechanical and plumbing systems, while rooftop photovoltaic panels generate sustainable energy. These advancements led to a LEED Gold Certification, a prestigious designation available only for exceptionally eco-friendly buildings. In addition, the restaurant filters and carbonates their own water in house to avoid overusing glass and plastic bottles, as well as composting food waste and recycling extensively.
The Bel-Air, 662 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 310 440 5544
With locations in Culver City and Burbank, Yalla Mediterranean, which means ‘Let’s Go’ in a variety of dialects, offers Mediterranean classics along with health-focused options, which heavily incorporate seasonal vegetables, citrus, and herbs. Their menu items are prepared fresh each morning utilizing over 360 pounds of locally sourced produce, hormone-free and responsibly raised meats, wild-caught fish, and dairy from cows raised without growth hormones. Yalla’s focus on locally sourced ingredients and sustainability is also reflected in the eco-friendly atmosphere of each location, which features salvaged wood décor, an in-store herb wall, and live lemon tree. The décor is inspired by the Mediterranean with clean lines, rustic features, wood paneling and Edison light fixtures. The restaurant also only utilizes 100% compostable packaging, napkins, straws, utensils, and cups, which further demonstrates their commitment to the environment.
Yalla Mediterranean, 1781 N Victory Pl, Burbank, CA, USA, +1 818 565 0426
Located on chic Montana Avenue, Kye’s is a health-focused restaurant (gluten-free, easily vegan or Paleo) that offers burrito-wrap hybrids, smoothies, mocktails, and shakes. Their care for the environment goes beyond their menu. Some of their sustainable practices include the use of sustainable, responsibly sourced, and organic ingredients, their kitchen composts and recycles, and they use compostable service wares and recyclable cups and containers. A few other eco-friendly measures include the fact that many of the materials they used to build and furnish the restaurant are renewable and all natural, like the reclaimed wood, tile, and natural wool that their seating is made from, along with the fact that they use low flow water systems, air hand dryers, nest temperature system, no VOC paints, and LED lighting.
Kye’s, 1518 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA, USA, +1 310 395-5937