Top 10 List of Sustainable Restaurants You Need to Try Now

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When it comes to sustainability, one thing that should be on the top of all our minds is food. After all, we should all want to help preserve the planet since it’s the only one we have. Without a sustainable food source, we as humans wouldn’t be able to survive, let alone thrive. Luckily this is something we as humans figured out a long time ago with advanced farming methods like cultivating crops and raising livestock. Now, as we move into the future of modern times, sustainable food stretches further than just the farm but now also to restaurants themselves. Just imagine a self-sustainable restaurant that can manage its own food supply while avoiding high costs from food delivery companies, especially when gasoline is at an all-time high.

Sustainability is about making an effort to move in an eco-friendly direction by reducing our waste, composting, recycling, and focusing primarily on conservation. Before jumping into this top 10 list of sustainable restaurants in the United States, I want to clarify a few things. First, you won’t find places like Mcdonald’s or Taco Bell on this list; secondly, this list is in no particular order. Any ten establishments are well worth your hard-earned money, and the service and produce you’ll receive from them are sure to impress. Without any further ado, let’s get started with number 10!

10. Root Down

Located in an old 1950s gas station in Denver, Colorado, is a nice little place called Root Down. Here you’ll find more than just delicious food, such as the fact that they are solely operated by wind power only. This lovely little diner also grows herbs and veggies on their roof and patios and harvests their crops regularly. Even more impressive, the entire inside of Root Down is made up of various recycled materials. This place gives a new meaning to farm-to-table, especially when the farm your food came from is just a few feet away. You may be wondering how much more sustainable a restaurant can get. Keep on reading to find out!

9. Woodberry Kitchen

For number 9 on our list, let’s pack our bags and head east to Maryland, where we will find the Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry Kitchen is another great sustainable restaurant serving food from various local farms. They grind and extract different waste materials from the vegetables they receive, which makes their business more efficient to manage. Another unique feature of this restaurant is that they take the shells of discarded oysters and return them to the Chesapeake Bay, where they’re used as new oyster beds.

8. Mixt Greens

Heading west for number 8 on the list, our next entry holds two locations in Los Angeles and six in San Francisco. At Mixt Greens, you’ll find many healthy options, such as salads and sandwiches made using only the freshest organic ingredients. All eight of their stores also use compostable packaging, which is 100% eco-friendly, while using recycled and energy-efficient equipment inside the stores. Mixt Greens offers some mighty tasty food while being conscious of our planet. This place is worth checking out.

7. Harbor House

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Credits: Harbor House

Harbor House in Elk, Point Arena in California features raised beds, as well as several herbs and flower gardens. They begin their day outside in the onsite gardens, harvesting for the night’s service. Due to their unique location, their gardens are covered by a blanket of coastal fog each night. The natural salinity gives their plants and herbs a light seasoning while they are growing, giving a terroir-driven expression only found here. Within their gardens, they grow Row 7 Seed Company seeds, as well as other unique varieties that are bred specifically for flavor. Their entire garden is farmed organically and sustainably using the compost produced by our onsite composter. By minimizing imports, and cultivating as much food from their own land and tidepools as possible, they offer a hyper-local experience that is constantly evolving.

6. Bareburger

Bareburger provides customers with a large variety of mouthwatering burgers, and if you know anything about America, the old-fashioned hamburger is one of the all-time staples. Bareburger boasts more than 20 locations all over the country, including stores in New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. Not only is Bareburger known for their top-of-the-line high-quality burgers, but they’re also famous for making these burgers without using any pesticides or GMOs. I love the food there, and with nearly two dozen locations, the franchise doesn’t seem to be slowing down, so more people than myself find the menu delicious. 

5. The Plant Cafe Organic

The Plant Café is another sustainable restaurant in the San Franciso bay area. The goal of The Plant Cafe is to serve you fantastically delicious food that is also completely organic. All their products are locally grown and harvested days before ending up on your plate. Everything being fresh is extremely important to the café owners that they raise their poultry sustainably, and everything else is made from scratch. 

4. Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets are located in Washington, DC, and they locally source all their meats using sustainable seafood. They brew fair trade coffees and teas and implement the use of recycled paper products while also calling upon the power of renewable energy in their successful east coast restaurant chain. One fantastic thing about this restaurant is that they’re more than a restaurant. If you ask the owners or regulars, they’ll tell you they’re a “community gathering place” open and available to thinkers, writers, artists, and those with big dreams and aspirations. The meals they offer on their delicious menu don’t only taste great, but they’re all 100% natural. If you’re into the whole sustainable food and entertainment while you eat, this place needs to go on your culinary bucket list.

3. Soupergirl

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Credits: Soupergirl

Who doesn’t love soup? Did you know that it’s one of the most comforting foods on the planet? The owner behind Soupergirl realized this and took everything we thought we knew about soup and took it to an entirely new level. All the soup made here comes from scratch and uses only organic ingredients. I first came across this place on a rainy-day restaurant list some time ago, and after one stop- it’s a go-to anytime I’m in Washington DC. If you live in the northeastern states as I do, you know nothing beats a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. As for sustainability, all the kitchen scraps are composted, making this an eco-friendly and natural restaurant great for everyone who loves a good bowl of homemade soup.

2. Founding Farmers

If you’re in Washington DC and happen to be three blocks from the White House, there’s a good chance you might be standing next to one of 3 Founding Farmers locations. As the name would suggest, this chain is owned by farmers, and literally, everything they do is eco-friendly. Here you’ll find recycled paper-composite countertops and even recycled paper menus with soy-based inks. Founding Farmers receive an A+ for everything they do in the name of preserving our planet. Oh, and the food’s great too! Click on the link above, and you’ll find an entire page on their website explaining how they practice sustainability.

1. Red Stag Supperclub

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Credits: Red Stag Supperclub

The Red Stag Supperclub is one of the few entries on this list that aren’t in Washington, DC, or California. If you want to dine at this fantastic establishment, you’ll need to travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota. They served local and organic food and became the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design registered restaurant in the country that uses only LED energy-efficient lights. By doing this, they managed to half their energy usage, which is rather remarkable in its own right.

Final thoughts

Many restaurants all over the US (and the world) have been working hard to become more sustainable and are now serving more organic food than ever before. With that said, I hope you found this article about ten restaurant chains across the country practicing sustainability and making food without harmful add-ons a good read.

Anthony Thomas

Anthony Thomas is a Pennsylvanian-born native who currently resides in the same town he grew up in. Growing up in a farm setting, he learned early on how to hunt, raise livestock, and plant crops and various camping, survival, and bushcraft techniques. By the time he graduated high school, he had taken a job working at a restaurant, and within a few years, he was a certified chef. After getting married with two kids, Tony managed and ran multiple restaurants and co-managed a travel plaza. After 2019, he needed a change of pace and took up an old passion of his in the form of art and creative writing. This also led him to open a private tattoo shop in his hometown. Today he manages multiple freelance ventures from digital art, video editing, creative writing, tattooing, and more.