Earth Day Special! 8 Great Eco-Friendly Restaurants
I'm always on board with anything that promotes awareness about the ecological disasters facing our planet–and, so, facing us, because this is where we live–unless we change our ways, and in a hurry. So when Earth Day rolls around again on April 22, I'll be grateful for whatever extra attention these issues receive, whether in schools, in the media, and in all of our collective thoughts. But until then (and after then, and then), one of the easiest ways to make a tiny difference as you go about your daily routine is to patronize eco-friendly NYC restaurants, those places committed, to varying degrees, to sustainable farming practices, organic products, repurposed materials, renewable energy, waste composting… anything that lessens their ecological footprint on our well-trod home. Here, then, are some of my favorite NYC eco-friendly restaurants; please add yours in the comments.
Roberta's may be best known for its pizza (which is excellent), its high hipster quotient, and the fact that the Clintons ate there that time. But if you've never been to this nearly-iconic Bushwick restaurant you should know that the menu is deep and amazing, the staffers welcoming, the crowd lively, and that, in addition to sourcing locally, the kitchen grows their own everything, as much as possible, in the impressive backyard garden. For location, more info, check out the complete Roberta's menu.
Back on the Upper East Side, and with a fierce (and delicious) locavore streak, East Pole is one of the tastiest, prettiest, even dare-I-say-it trendiest restaurants in that part of town. If you've ever been to Fat Radish on Orchard Street you may recognize some dishes on the East Pole menu (the team has since opened up Pizza Beach, also on the Upper East Side, which I plan on hitting soon), but either way, you're sure to feel good about eating here, both because the food is all healthy-feeling and prepared with care, and also because the ingredients are local, organic, and seasonal, or, in the case of proteins, culled from sustainably-raised animals. For more info, check out the complete East Pole menu.
With seven locations all over Manhattan (the Upper West Side has two!), Birdbath is the scrumptious, extremely eco-friendly spin-off of the great City Bakery. The cookies, the pretzel croissants, the rugelach, the everything else all provide first-rate baked goodness, PLUS the interiors are built from vintage, recycled, and found materials; the goodies are delivered from the main bakery to the stores via bicycle-powered rickshaw, and the whole operation is wind-powered. Check out more information on Birdbath.
For special occasion, "elegant casual" eco-friendliness, the only way you can beat the fantastic Blue Hill in Greenwich Village is to go up to Chef Dan Barber's farm and eat at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Except that would involve driving! So get on the subway (or your bicycle) and celebrate Earth Day or any other day with Barber's remarkable take on truly farm-to-table cuisine. Even better, get there before March 31 for the amazing wastED pop-up within Blue Hill, for which Barber and a host of special guests are serving astonishingly good dishes made entirely from ingredients that normally get thrown away. Think: fish collars, pasta trimmings, the meat from retired dairy cows, vegetable scraps. I had the immense pleasure of eating at wastED the other night, and plan on going again. Instant contender for meal of the year. Check out your options and read one of the sample Blue Hill menus, and to make reservations for wastED.
On a more cheap-eats, quick-bite note, the most eco-friendly "fast food" available in town is almost certainly at any of the fifteen Bare Burgers scattered throughout New York City. Although the menu is your basic burgers-fries-salads-shakes sort of thing, virtually every ingredient is organic (meat, veggies, dairy), the interiors are mostly constructed from repurposed and upcycled materials, and, most important, it's all pretty tasty. For a list of all NYC locations, check out the Bare Burger menu–many of the burgers are actually pretty exotic (ostrich, elk), and sides are extensive and delicious.
One of my go-to spots pre-anything at BAM–or, frankly, anytime I'm in the mood to sit outside and eat Cuban Sandwiches–the Brooklyn version of Nolita's always-packed Cafe Habana, Habana Outpost always satisfies. Located in Front Greene, Habana Outpost not only serves first-rate Mexican and Cuban street-food dishes (as well as strong margaritas and mojitos), but it was also the first completely solar-powered restaurant in New York City. Plus: bicycle-powered blenders and "the greenest toilet in America!" Extremely family-friendly, too. For more information check out the complete Habana Outpost menu.
Rosemary's in the West Village makes the list because 1) it's still one of the prettiest restaurants in the city; 2) despite the fact the kitchen gets slammed every night, the food remains top-quality farm-to-table Italian; and 3) that lovely rooftop garden (pictured at top; make sure you pop up and take peak!) will be lush and full of great flavors sooner than you think. Everything's good here, and you probably don't need me to tell you that you should get as many of the pastas as possible–also: all the vegetables–but if there's any way you can go at lunch (when it's a bit more peaceful), rather than at dinner (when the waits are long and room pretty loud), then that is what I suggest you do. More info check out the complete Rosemary's menu.
Eating vegan whenever possible, even if you're not vegan, is undeniably a small, helpful thing we can all do, eco-friendly-wise. Which is why whenever I'm strolling up Orchard and in need of a snack (which is always), my stop-in of choice in the awesome Babycakes. Everything here is vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, which, I know, isn't all that rare anymore, but Babycakes was one of the originals, and Erin McKenna's outlandish, inventive sweets are still the best of their kind in the city. More info and take a look at the sample Babycakes menu.
Posted in Downtown, manhattan living, Midtown East, NYC Dining, Other Neighborhoods, Upper East Side, Westside | Tagged Babycakes Bakery • Bare Burger • Birdbath • Earth Day • Earth Day 2015 • East Pole • Eco-Friendly Restaurants • Habana Outpost • Rosemary's