7 Green Restaurants to Hit This Season

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.

Candle 79 in New York City's Upper East Side is a celebrity favorite, and one of the city's best green restaurants.

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.

See Candle’s compostable recipes made custom for Earth911 readers.

Candle 79
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.

Greens Restaurant
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, California

The Kitchen in Boulder, Colo. supplies its neighbor with biodiesel made from its leftover cooking oil.

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.

The Kitchen
1039 Pearl Street
Boulder, Colorado

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
Eugene, Oregon

Haven in Houston strives for as little waste as possible. It features home-grown ingredients and composts its kitchen scraps.

Houston: Haven

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
Houston, Texas

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
Chicago, Illinois

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  1. Eat Green in Phoenix, Arizona (actually Tempe – but Phoenix area). Here’s a quote from Chef Damon Brasch. Their website is http://www.GreenVegetarian.com.

    “My grandfather and great grandfather built a house next to a lake. This was the house where I learned to cook. I was seven years old when my grandmother told me to go into the woods to pick fresh dandelion greens for her salad. This was where my hands first smelled of fresh garlic. Where the scent of baking bread intoxicated my senses and the hand rolled pasta made my mouth water. This is where I took the tomato off the vine and placed it into the pot and where we picked the cherries from the tree for the cherry pies that made the neighbors swoon to my grandparents’ house. This is where I fell in love with the asparagus and the artichoke and the arugula. This is where I learned to celebrate food. This is why I cook for you. And this is why I am Green.”

  2. Hello Gloria,

    Great read! I learned something new today. I wasn’t aware of green restaurants but some of the listings here look quite interesting.

  3. As a loyal subscriber, I try to avail myself of the advice you publish in each e-mail, but I have a small problem. I live in Northeastern PA (the Poconos), at least 100 miles from NYC. A trip there would cost me around $30.00 in fuel, plus tolls and parking probably exceeding $15.00, not to mention the check. How can I be “green”, dining at Candle 79? I suspect many Earth 911 subscribers are in a similar situation. It would be great if you could suggest green restaurants that aren’t located in less accessible (to suburbanites) larger metro areas. I’ll give you a leg up: The Gem and Keystone, near the Shawnee Inn, in Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA has as its motto, “Beer from here. Food from near”. I don’t know of any others, offhand. Can you suggest some local type “green” restaurants from around the country that we “local yokels” might find? Keep up the good work keeping us informed on recycling issues.

  4. What??? No mention of the greenest city in Texas? Austin has sooooo many great dining places that use organically grown, local meats and produce. How could you?!!! LOL!

  5. What about the greenest restaurant in the country – The Grey Plume in Omaha, NE? The Grey Plume, ‎a seasonally-driven restaurant in Midtown Crossing, earned the distinction of being the nation’s first ‎three star SustainaBuild Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association – making it ‎the greenest restaurant in America. It has had stories written about it in Time Magazine and USA ‎Today, as well as received a ton of local/regional press and has lots of blog writers following and ‎posting about it. http://www.thegreyplume.com

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