At BinWise and our sister company BlueCart, we do a lot of work with restaurants and bars. Our work includes everything to do with distribution (including wholesale distribution), food and beverage sales, the cost to open a bar, and customer service. We even get into planning a liquor bottle display.
That means we run into a lot of industry niches that are changing as more sustainable practices are made commonplace. We’re happy to see the restaurant and bar industry shifting to a more sustainable mindset. These days, it's become likely for someone to learn how to open a bar for the reason of creating a sustainable space. This Earth Day, we’re so glad to share our joy in sustainable actions with you as we explore everything to do with eco-friendly restaurants.
The umbrella definition of eco-friendly bars and restaurants covers a lot of ground. Eco-friendly restaurants have been described in many ways, including definitions such as:
- Restaurants that minimize their negative impact on the environment
- Restaurants that source local products with sustainable menu types
- Bars and restaurants that give back to the community - even in their Valentine’s day promotion ideas for restaurants
If you mix all those definitions together, you get a restaurant taking holistic action steps to help the planet. Sometimes those steps make the cost to open a bar a bit higher, but it's completely worth it. Even for the top 25 Michelin Star restaurants.
Eco-Friendly Restaurant Products
One way all restaurants can be more eco-friendly is to use eco-friendly products. From cleaning supplies and utensils to carry-out containers and eCommerce packaging, there are so many options out there for restaurants and bars to choose from.
The discourse around single-use plastics has centered on the fact that one person with a metal straw won’t solve the climate crisis. If, however, all restaurants make the switch to sustainable straws and other products, that’s when changes will really begin.
Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd since 1970, is the perfect time to bring awareness to eco-friendly changes in the hospitality industry and beyond. Of course, making these changes one day a year won’t make a noticeable difference.
If you’re a restaurant or bar owner or patron, the best thing you can do is address every day with sustainability in mind. Earth Day is a good start, but it’s just the beginning.
How Can Restaurants Be More Sustainable?
For restaurants and bars, even ones that are already practicing sustainability, the question remains of how to be more sustainable. There are several actions you can take, including:
- Source the foods and beverages you serve locally-including your wine sales
- Base your menu around seasonally available foods
- Be strict with rules around serving dishes, utensils, and products that can be more sustainable
- Become a part of a sustainable community in your area (co-ops and types of marketplaces)
- Work with sustainability movements (Environment+Energy Leader, The Ecology Center, etc.)
If you’re not sure where to start, know that your interest in sustainability is already an advantage. You'll have to add some work to an already growing to do list (including getting a liquor license) but there are plenty of places already leading the way.
Top 20 Sustainable Restaurants Across the US
When it comes to finding inspiration for eco-friendly bars and restaurants, there are plenty of places to look. These days, more and more restaurants are embracing sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
If you’re looking for a place to learn best practices, any of the following 20 spots are great options. If you’re looking to grab a bite, they’re equally good choices.
20. Farmer's Table
Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton makes the list at position 20 for a number of reasons. It’s a place that is very community-minded, which drives others to carry on its values. Also, at Farmer’s Table, they source their foods from producers who are as eco-conscious as they are.
19. AR Valentien
AR Valentien is known for being an upscale dining experience at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, CA. That said, it’s also known for using mainly locally sourced foods, and basing the menu on seasonally available foods as much as possible.
Providence is a sustainability-based seafood restaurant in Los Angeles. As the chef, Michael Cimarusti, says, “First and foremost, what guides us here is sustainability. We use only wild-caught, sustainable products, mostly from American waters.” You can taste the sustainability in every bite.
Almond is a restaurant with two New York locations and one Palm Beach, Florida, outlet. Almond prides itself on being “Seasonal, Local & Artisanal since 2001” with sustainably sourced ingredients and uncompromising quality.
16. Sparrow & Wolf
Sparrow & Wolf is a great place to grab a bite in Las Vegas. In the land of excess, Sparrow & Wolf certainly don’t tone down their menu, but they do base their menu on seasonal availability. When it comes to sustainable restaurant practices, they’re one of the best.
15. Bistro Vendome
Bistro Vendome is a slice of France in Denver. Because it’s French food, you already know it’s light and delicious. The restaurant’s use of local, seasonal ingredients makes the menu full of sustainable delights.
AOC is, no, not the politician and activist, although she would certainly support the ethos behind AOC. AOC has locations in West Hollywood and Brentwood. First and foremost a wine bar, the AOC locations feature delicious wine names served with small plates of market-driven meals.
13. Botigglia Cucina Enoteca
Botigglia Cucina Enoteca is an Italian spot in Henderson, NV. Their menu covers Italian food and both Italian and French wine options. Sustainability comes into play with the vast array of vegan offerings on their robust menu.
12. Beeside Balcony
Beeside Balcony is a cozy spot tucked away in old Del Bar, CA. Beeside buzzes with local and organic ingredients throughout the entire menu.
Their fresh produce comes from local farms. With organic certifications on menu items from the lamb to the prime steak, everything on the menu comes with a side of sustainability.
11. Cafe Gratitude
Cafe Gratitude is a sustainable solace in Little Italy in San Diego (as well as other California locations). Cafe Gratitude shows its thankfulness for the planet with a wide range of plant-based meals for every diner.
10. Gracias Madre
Gracias Madre is a Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood. Gracias Madre features plant-based traditional Mexican foods (including Mexican food appetizers), but that won’t be the only thing you notice about their sustainability practices. You can taste the planetary goodness in their best tequila brands, as they have vowed to never serve diffuser tequila.
9. Delice & Sarrasin
Delice & Sarrasin is a vegan French spot in New York City. On their site, Delice & Sarrasin claims 100% vegan authenticity. If you’re in New York, stop by there, and let us know just how delicious their menu options are.
8. Honey Salt
Honey Salt is a sweet hideaway in Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV. Honey Salt pulls sustainability into their menu in everything from locally sourced ingredients to seasonal offerings to vegan options.
7. Isabelle’s Osteria
Isabelle’s Osteria brings sustainable Italian dining to New York City. Isabelle’s features a variety of pasta dishes (among other meals) that incorporate seasonal ingredients with in-house daily-made pasta. Not to mention, the wine list is full of names that work to produce wine in a way that respects the planet.
6. Bettolino Kitchen
Bettolino Kitchen at Redondo Beach is a sustainable haven of delicious Italian cuisine. Their menu offers up handmade pasta mixed with seasonally sourced ingredients. Beyond that, they also have a variety of organic protein options, fresh-baked breads, and handcrafted cocktail drinks.
5. Mendon 64
Mendon 64 in Mendon, NY, is an exquisite option for fine dining in New York. Mendon 64 gets its sustainable nature from locally sourced ingredients incorporated in every aspect of its extensive menu.
SunCafe is a rustic spot in Studio City, CA. SunCafe is the trifecta of sustainability, their menu is a mix of vegan, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. It sounds great, and their food tastes just as good as it sounds.
3. Plant Food + Wine
Plant Food + Wine is an all-time favorite for anyone looking for an eco-friendly meal in Venice, CA. Their name says it all; they serve up a mix of plant food and sustainable wine-including some great wine by the glass options. If you’re in Venice or planning a trip there, this spot should be at the top of your list.
2. Pono Burger
Pono Burger in Santa Monica prides itself on making burgers the right way: with organic, local, farmer’s market ingredients. When you add the fresh-cut organic French fries to that mix, you’ve got yourself a perfect burger spot.
1. Yalla Mediterranean
Yalla Mediterranean in Burbank, CA, comes in at number one due to its sustainable take on fast-casual dining. Yalla isn’t just available in Burbank; they’ve got locations across California. In addition to multiple locations, they branch out beyond plant-based cuisine to include philanthropy in their sustainability efforts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eco-Friendly Restaurants
As sustainability practices continue to grow, there will always be more to learn about eco-friendly practices for restaurants. There are a few commonly asked questions that will keep you moving as you learn more about the restaurant sustainability movement.
Why Should Restaurants Be Eco-Friendly?
This is a simple question, and quite easy to answer: restaurants should be eco-friendly because we all live on this planet. We need to do our best to take care of it. This doesn’t just apply to restaurants, it applies to every business and every person.
What Are Five Eco-Friendly Foods?
If you’re looking to revamp your menu to be more eco-friendly, there are lots of foods you can mix in. These five are a good place to start:
- Organic produce
- Locally sourced proteins (fish and other meats)
What Makes Your Restaurant Eco-Friendly and Sustainable?
A mix of everything we outlined above will make your restaurant eco-friendly and sustainable. That said, the main thing you need is the drive to become more sustainable. That will lead you to the knowledge and practices necessary for your goals. You can read the best bar books and learn some restaurant lingo, but a passion for sustainability is where you need to start.
Eco-Friendly Restaurants: Every Day Is Earth Day
As you move forward this Earth Day and every day that follows, remember that these sustainable practices will never go out of fashion. From when you open a bar to when you're ready to pass your legacy business along, sustainability is key.
For restaurants, bars, and community members who want to make a change, every day truly is Earth Day.