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7 Sustainable Restaurants to Visit in New York, Denver, and More

Sustainable restaurants are popping up all over the country. These options utilize wind energy, prioritize plant-based menus, and more.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen

You'd be surprised to hear just how many restaurants there are in the United States that are making huge moves for environmentalism. From a renowned fine dining restaurant in New York City going meatless to a fast-casual joint in Denver that's 100% wind-powered, the future of sustainability in the restaurant industry looks bright (and delicious).

With so many sustainable restaurants popping up across the country, it may be hard to decide which ones you want to try first. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of six options to visit first.

7 Sustainable Restaurants to Check Out

1. Eleven Madison Park in New York, NY

Eleven Madison Park, a fine dining restaurant in New York City, is widely considered to be one of the world's top restaurants, being awarded a three-star rating by the prestigious Michelin Guide. But last June, the restaurant converted to a completely plant-based menu.

Daniel Humm, chef and co-founder of Eleven Madison Park, said his team has been obsessed with making flavorful veggie broths and stocks, and their days are spent developing plant-based milks, creams, and butters.

"We're exploring fermentation, and understand that time is one of the most precious ingredients," he says. "What at first felt limiting began to feel freeing, and we are only scratching the surface."

2. Vital Root in Denver, CO

Vital Root is a fast-casual joint in Denver that's committed to keeping it real. Not only does it have responsibly-sourced, vegetable-forward cuisine, but it's 100% wind-powered. All its animal protein is certified humane and all the seafood is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The sustainable restaurant even has a 6,000-square-foot garden that supplies 20% of its seasonal herbs and vegetables. In addition, the menu boasts a diverse selection of vegan and vegetarian options, including Banh Mi Breakfast Tacos and Sunflower Risotto.

3. G-Zen in Branford, CT

The G in G-Zen stands for its Green Business cuisine and plant-based cuisine, and the restaurant definitely lives up to its name. G-Zen takes the concept of "farm-to-table" to the next level by growing its organic ingredients, serving them fresh at the restaurant, and composting at its sustainable farm.

What makes G-Zen even more sustainable is the fact that it's considered to be a zero-waste restaurant. G-Zen composts 100% of its food waste materials and has biodegradable takeout packaging.

4. Uncommon Ground in Chicago, IL

Uncommon Ground was awarded World's Greenest Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association in 2013 for good reason. It's not only home to the first certified organic brewery in the U.S., but also the first certified organic rooftop farm.

Uncommon Ground prides itself in using eco-friendly cleaning supplies, high-efficiency light bulbs, solar hot water, and recycling, among other sustainable practices. If you're in Chicago looking for a place to enjoy a tall glass of beer, maybe give Uncommon Ground's certified organic, vegan Greenstar option a try.

5. Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C.

Founding Farmers is a mission-driven restaurant with locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Named one of the 10 most sustainable restaurants by the Huffington Post, this eatery definitely takes sustainability seriously.

Founding Farmers diverts 90% of the waste from its restaurants through robust composting and recycling programs, including the use of a BioHiTech Eco-Safe Digester they've affectionately called "The Pig." It also regularly works with the Green Restaurant Association, with all locations being Three-Star Certified Green.

6. Bellagreen in Houston, TX

Bellagreen is a fast-casual American bistro that refers to itself as the greenest restaurant in Texas, and we can see why. Since its opening in 2008, it has been committed to serving delicious, healthy meals at an affordable price.

All its locations—in both Dallas and Houston—are, at a minimum, Three-Star Certified Green. Not only that, but Bellagreen tries to decrease its ecological footprint through upcycled furnishings, water conservation, and alternative power.

7. Root Down in Denver, CO

Root Down is unique for many reasons. Housed in a converted 1950s gas station, the restaurant's interiors feature reclaimed and repurposed materials, from the butcher-block tables to the can lid-lined walls. It also grows its own vegetables and composts wastes.

As for the food, Root Down has a plant-forward menu of mostly vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options that use locally-farmed, sustainable, and organic ingredients. There's also line-caught seafood and certified humane pasture-raised meats.

Even the alcohol menu has sustainability in mind, as the selection of wines all focus on biodynamic and organic growers.