There’s nothing like home for the holidays, but it can be lovely to step out on the town during this busy season, too. If you pay close attention to what you purchase at the grocery, and you’ll be happy to know we’ve chosen restaurants that are just as selective about their produce.
These sophisticated, sustainable spots are perfect for a family dinner, a holiday get-together with friends or perhaps the meal itself is a delicious gift for a loved one.
New York City: Candle 79
Candle 79’s plush seats, warm light and savory vegan fare make it the perfect escape from the busy streets of New York City during the holiday rush. Come early and sit at the bar while sipping organic wines or custom seasonal cocktails. Do some subtle people watching, and you may get lucky and see one of the many celebrities that can’t get enough of Candle.
We recommend starting with the Stuffed Avocado Salad or the NY State Squash Ravioli, then move on to the Seitan Piccata, the restaurant’s most popular dish. For those not familiar with seitan, it’s wheat gluten often used in vegetarian dishes to replace meat.
Younger diners or those with less adventurous tastes might like to try one of Candle’s vegan versions of classic entrees like Spaghetti and Wheat Balls. And be sure to save room for Candle’s famous cannolis.
154 East 79th Street
New York City, N.Y.
San Francisco: Greens Restaurant
The venerable vegetarian restaurant, Greens, has been around since 1979. Diners get a full taste of San Francisco – extraordinary views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marina, plus wholesome food that’s been elevated to an art form – two things the city has become known for. Treat yourself to a holiday four-course dinner for $49 on Saturdays, or enjoy a wide-range of dishes any day of the week, from pizzas to curries.
We recommend the Wild Rice and Celery Chowder, a satisfying winter soup from Deborah Madison, Greens’ founder.
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, California
Boulder, Colorado: The Kitchen
This restaurant is truly part of the community of Boulder. It supports local farms through produce purchasing (it even lists the farms on the blackboard in the restaurant), supplies a neighbor with cooking oil for use as biodiesel, and from 3:30 to 5 p.m. every day they host “community hour” featuring fairly priced food and drinks served in a communal setting.
For the holidays, take a big group to the family style bistro downstairs, or for a more intimate affair, go upstairs for rustic dishes prepared in their wood-fired oven. Chef and co-owner Kimbal Musk suggests trying Long Family Farm Pork with Roasted Monroe Farm Carrots and Celeriac; Scallops from Mantauk, Maine, with curried Monroe Farm Carrot Puree and a chimichurri dressing.
If you can’t make it out to Boulder, you can try some of their recipes at home.
1039 Pearl Street
Eugene, Oregon: The Sustainable Table
This restaurant wears its sustainability on its sleeve, and why not? The Green Restaurant Association has certified it, and most of the restaurant’s food is procured from farms within 100 miles. The restaurant also boasts 100 percent recycled to-go containers, energy efficient lighting and full-scale recycling and composting, among other green initiatives.
The Sustainable Table adheres to strict guidelines regarding its meat – it must be humanely raised, vegetarian fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free. So, you can feel good about your filet or burger, as well as your portabella sandwich.
The Sustainable Table
30 East Broadway
Haven brings sustainability to Southern favorites like deviled farm eggs, Texan wild boar chili and Akaushi steaks. And how local is the food? Well, there’s a chef’s garden on site!
Haven’s chef Randy Evan’s is committed to making as little waste as possible – the restaurant composts kitchen scraps, and he’s even found a way to make pig’s feet sound delicious so he doesn’t have to throw them away (he puts them in fritters).
Come for Haven’s $65 four-course New Year’s Eve dinner, or take in this refined seasonal kitchen anytime you feel like a trying a new spin on your favorite Southern dish.
2502 Algerian Way
Washington D.C.: Coppi’s
If you’re spending the holiday season in the nation’s capital, stop in at Coppi’s, a U Street favorite. It’s a classic Italian joint with a splash of sophistication and sustainability. You’ll feel good about its local ingredients, sustainably-sourced fish and humanely-raised meat.
Slip into a booth for a romantic holiday meal over biodynamic wine (note that those benches are made of recycled church pews) or share a large meal and tons of pizza with the family. This cozy restaurant is mostly candle-lit, but the electricity they do use is wind-generated.
1414 U Street
NW Washington, D.C.
Chicago: Uncommon Ground
Chicago is known for its rooftop gardens, but Uncommon Ground’s outpost, located in the Edgewater area of Chicago, was the first restaurant to have a rooftop garden and beehives of its own. Talk about local food!
Try one of the organic, locally and family-farm- produced dishes. This place has everything from macaroni and cheese to rabbit. Make sure the older crowd tries one (or more!) of Uncommon Ground’s local craft beers.
Uncommon Ground on Devon
1401 West Devon Avenue