Authored by: Esther Cho
Recently, I wrote a blog post about zero-waste living and the importance of committing to that lifestyle. But what if you want to dine out and continue to focus on being sustainable? While cooking at home can be an excellent way to save money and become more innovative with new recipes, there are days when you want to be a tad bit lazy or treat yourself to some fancier food. If you’re looking for more eco-conscious restaurants or ones that focus specifically on zero-waste, you’re in luck! Here are the top 10 zero-waste and sustainable restaurants you can enjoy for a night out while also being eco-conscious!
West~bourne in SoHo, New York
Chef and founder Camila Marcus grew up frequently going to the farmer’s market and cooking with what was on hand, from seed to stem, to reduce waste. A California-inspired cafe, all the dishes are made with a rare level of freshness and inspired by vibrant cultures. Most of the dishes are plant-based and feel-good snacks that will make you feel happy and healthy.
Seven Coffee Roasters in Seattle, Washington
Born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii, Sean Lee founded Seven Coffee Roasters to serve fresh, creamy coffee and create a business with a sustainable mindset. The coffee is roasted locally, and the company is constantly trying to become more and more eco-conscious and zero-waste oriented. To get rid of one of the primary sources of significant waste (the large coffee bags), Seven Coffee Roasters started a bin exchange program where one of the employees brings fresh coffee from the roastery in reusable plastic bins and brings back the used containers from the store back to the roastery. They’ve also incorporated a greener condiment bar. With every purchase, a free reusable straw is given to every customer. At the condiment bar, the compostable wooden stir sticks are replaced with reusable stir sticks, and they’ve also incorporated bulk sugar (reusable sugar containers) rather than sugar packets.
Cub in London, England
For those that are 21 and over, this quaint, upscale bar is the perfect place to drink some beautifully crafted cocktails. Founder of Cub, Doug McMaster, has created an “Instagrammable” aesthetically pleasing bar, and every dish centers around a single ingredient to minimize waste.
Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol, United Kingdom
Tom Hunt, Jen Best, and Ben Pryor opened up this restaurant with a passion for great food, atmosphere, and sustainability. As members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, they are surveyed each year on energy consumption and proportions of organic produce used, water usage, and morals/ethics of the business itself. They were given the highest scores ever achieved by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Poco chefs choose food for its quality, so they choose fresher produce sourced from good and ethical sources with easy traceability. Nearly 100% of their waste is composted and recycled, and they believe in utilizing the principle of a circular economy. So, all chosen or used products can be reused or circulated somehow. From food to decor, this business strives to serve delicious food without the economic compromise.
SunCafe in Los Angeles, California
San Cafe makes “made-to-order,” plant-based, and dairy-free dishes that may take extra preparation but are definitely worth the wait. This beautiful, rustic cafe has won numerous awards for its menu and sustainability. Ron Russell, co-owner and chef at SunCafe, began his cooking journey during college, which led him to become a vegetarian. Since then, he’s developed hundreds of vegan recipes and has taught more than 300 vegan cooking classes. You can find a variety of smoothies, cocktails, juices, and delicious plant-based meals here at SunCafe.
The Albright in Santa Monica, California
A local, family-owned restaurant located on the Santa Monica Pier, The Albright, serves tasty food while being dedicated to being as energy-efficient as possible. This seafood restaurant has committed to serving sustainably caught seafood and locally sourced ingredients and has been recognized as the first sustainable business on the Pier. Whenever you get the chance to visit the Santa Monica Pier, make sure to get a taste of this mouth-watering menu!
Kitava in San Francisco, California
“Kitava was created to help people lead healthy and enjoyable lives.” Founded with a passion for living a life filled with purpose, Kitava makes nourishing food using whole ingredients sourced from responsible vendors. Their goal is to make healthy food more accessible to everyone and anyone who desires to lead a healthier lifestyle. They are 100% transparent with the ingredients used in their cooking and are committed to making a life a joyful one.
Edible Beats in Denver, Colorado
All six of their restaurants are 100% wind-powered and have responsibly-sourced menus. All animal proteins used in all dishes are sourced from humane, pasture-raised, and utilize non-GMO vegetarian feed. All of the seafood used is certified by Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, and they also have a 6,000 square feet organic garden that supplies 20% of seasonal herbs and vegetables to all restaurants. “For guests. For food. For community. And, last but not least, for big Mama Earth.”
Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, Spain
According to “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” Azurmendi was voted the most sustainable restaurant. Located in the beautiful hills of Spain, Azurmendi is a unique bioclimatic building, which means, in other words, it is a building that integrates and surrounds itself with nature. They reuse rainwater for the garden, greenhouses, and toilets and take advantage of natural sunlight, and only use artificial lights at night. They control the temperature and ventilation to reduce the need for AC and produce a portion of the vegetables and spices used in the kitchen in their greenhouse. They’ve also planted over 800 trees since 2018 to reduce carbon dioxide. Have a taste of their luxurious menu with meals such as their truffled meringue!
The world is ever-changing, and new zero-waste and sustainable restaurants are built daily! These restaurants may not be in your local area, so if you’re ever having a night out and looking for some eco-conscious restaurants, the best tip is to look out for their traceability. Suppose the business is upfront about where they’ve sourced their ingredients, and you can visibly see that the company has made an effort to include compostable items in their restaurants (silverware, to-go utensils, etc.), as well as recycling. In that case, they are most likely a trustworthy sustainable restaurant. Happy zero-waste eating! Let’s Reimagine Waste Together!