The Top 10 Eco-Conscious Restaurants In The United States

The Refined burger with peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, potato sticks and fancy sauce served with Yukon Gold fries at The Refinery in Tampa.
The Refined burger with peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, potato sticks and ''fancy sauce'' served with Yukon Gold fries at The Refinery in Tampa. | © ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
By: Audra Clemons

For a restaurant to operate at a top level of sustainability, special care and attention is needed. From start to finish the restaurant must adhere to certain standards and ethical guidelines, including but not limited to: recycled and bio-based disposable products, water efficiency, waste efficiency, energy efficiency, pollution reduction, chemical reduction, as well as sustainable food and beverages. Here are 10 eco-conscious restaurants across the United States that you should know about.

1. Black Cat Bistro

Bistro, American, Contemporary

Chef Eric Skokan is one of the most ambitious farm-to-table chefs in the United States. He farms and ranches more than 130 acres in Boulder County, Colorado, to support his two restaurants – Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare, in addition to his farm stand at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market and his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Nearly all of the food at his restaurants comes from his very own fields: carrots, lentils, corn for polenta, lovage, lamb, eggs, heritage pigs, beef, goose and much more. From the menu, try the farm vegetable curry, which includes ricotta, beets and basmati rice cakes.

2. Uncommon Ground

Bar, Restaurant, American

Uncommon Ground has two restaurants located in Chicago, with four star certification from the Green Restaurant Association. The Devon Street location has the first certified organic rooftop farm in the country, and the original location on Clark Street has Greenstar Brewing, the first certified organic Brewery in Illinois. The rooftop farm has a portable, sub-irrigated growing system with a wide variety of plants, potted in 12 inches of organic soil – which the restaurant farms seasonally. Everything produced is used in the restaurant, including the honey that comes from a beehive.

3. Grange Kitchen and Bar

Bar, Restaurant, American

Grange Kitchen and Bar is an upscale farm-to-table restaurant located in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. It specializes in locally sourced goods with a ‘nose-to-tail’ philosophy, meaning that they like to use everything from the nose to the tail of an animal. Created by Chef Brandon Johns, the restaurant’s menu is chock full of locally sourced, seasonal options. From the menu, start with the fried green tomatoes, bacon, jam, buttermilk dressing appetizers, followed by the grilled rainbow trout, ratatouille, spiced eggplant puree, and basil. From the bar, try a regional brew from Kalamazoo titled Bell’s Porter.

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field is a roaming dinner concept that began in Santa Cruz, California. In the summer of 1999, Chef Jim Denevan came up with the idea of setting a table on a farm and inviting diners to an open air meal in celebration of the farmer and the gifts of the land. He called it Outstanding in the Field, and soon he took his novel idea on the road, traveling to farms across America and around the world. Over the years, OITF’s nomadic ‘restaurant without walls’ has welcomed nearly 70,000 guests for multi-course meals in farm fields and orchards, on beaches and mountaintops, in barns and greenhouses.
Outstanding in the Field 2015 dates and locations USA

4. La Bicyclette

Restaurant, European, North American

Carmel - La Bicyclette Restaurant
© SiliconValleyStock / Alamy Stock Photo
La Bicyclette offers cuisine crafted from local Monterey County ingredients. Inspired by the common sight of huddled intellectuals conversing over espresso within small European cafés, it uses old world techniques and fosters the art of good conversation. Serving the popular pizza from a wood-fire Mugnaini oven, and rotating the menu to feature seasonal produce, the restaurant offers a variety of options that are as flavorsome as they are fresh. From chocolate croissants and thick French toast for breakfast, to a dinner of Kurobuta pork short rib with peach glaze, La Bicyclette has something to tempt even the most discerning palate. Behind the scenes, the restaurant shares a special partnership with MEarth, which is a program that helps children to better understand the farm-to-table process through culinary and environmental stewardship.

5. The Marshal

Bar, Restaurant, American

The Marshal, located in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, is reflective of the best cuisine that New York has to offer. With seasonal ingredients and natural preparation, the restaurant makes the farm-to-table experience casual, interesting and fun. Located within a raw brick space originally from the 1880s, designer Tony Klein created a room that reflects old time New York meets the Wild West. The dining room and six seat bar are furnished with reclaimed wooden tables, chairs and antique farmers’ gazettes. The aesthetic echoes the kitchen’s wood-burning brick oven, heated by oak, cherry and apple wood sourced from Pennsylvania and upstate New York. From the brunch menu, try the wood oven roasted vegetable and Vermont creamery goat cheese frittata.

6. Wishbone

Bar, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian

Located on the outskirts of downtown Petaluma in Sonoma County, California, Wishbone is a ‘funky little spot’ that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between serving meals, owners Miriam Donaldson and Josh Norwitt partake in ranching and sourcing additional ingredients from local farms. Try the Brussel sprouts gratin with nutmeg toast and the pork chop of awe and wonder.

7. Herbsaint

Restaurant, French

Herbsaint is a casually upscale restaurant at the top of the food chain in New Orleans – known as the ‘food capital’ of the southern United States. Chef Link brings his culinary talent to organic, fresh, local ingredients that are sourced from local, sustainable purveyors. The restaurant has a full time forager who connects and cultivates a network of farms that supply Herbsaint. Mixing humble southern classics with contemporary chic meals is what Herbsaint is all about. From the menu try the Louisiana shrimp with calasparra rice, artichoke and maitake, and roasted pork belly with red curry rice, radish, and date barbecue.

8. The Refinery

Restaurant, Cafe, American, French

Named as Tampa, Florida’s best restaurant by numerous media sources, including three James Beard nominations, The Refinery offers a French twist on Southern traditional food. The Refinery is owned by Michelle Baker and executive chef Greg Baker, who brings over 20 years of experience from kitchens across America. Chef Baker created his venue concept with the idea that good food should be available to everyone, not just those who are wealthy. With sustainability at the root of operation, The Refinery rotates weekly menus from locally sourced food vendors and reduces their environmental footprint inside the kitchen and out. Suggested from the menu are: the clam Waldorf salad, country fried pork steak and manchego cauliflower mash.

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