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LA is known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to dining options. Yes, you can find just about anything to eat in the City of Angels, and you can also be very specific about how it’s prepared: farm-to-table, gluten-free, vegan, locally sourced… you name it, you’ll find it.
Another option that might appeal to Los Angelinos is the eco-friendly eatery. These establishments do whatever they can to ensure their service comes at little to no cost to the environment. In LA, this is extra important: the city is known for its poor air quality, regularly topping lists of the country’s worst cities for pollution.
The next time you go out to eat, try one of these 11 restaurants and do your bit to take that down, just a notch.
- Stuff I Eat
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this place is vegan: the food packs a serious soulful punch and we promise you won’t be hungry after, whether or not you’re an omnivore at a regular meal.
Stuff I Eat’s ingredients are fresh and organic, but they’re also meat-free. So much research has been done to show that a meat-free existence, or even a meat-free meal here and there, can really reduce strain on the environment. It reduces water usage — livestock need more water than plants — reduces fuel usage in transporting livestock and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases that farm animals emit. In other words, it’s super eco-friendly.
- Akasha Restaurant
A farm-to-table restaurant’s benefits are clear: you’re buying from local merchants, thus boosting the local economy. But you’re also reducing the amount of fuel required to transport your food from one place to another. In that way, farm-to-table restaurants are very earth-friendly.
Akasha is special because they not only serve suistainable food, but also organically produced wine, beer and other spirits. In other words, happy hour at Akasha is the perfect place for you if you’re earth- and booze-friendly.
- Bar Nine
Bar Nine is a little different than some of the others on the list because it’s coffee-centric. They’re so committed to the earth and reusable resources that they send customers off with glass jars full of coffee — yes, even to-go. If you collect 12 jars, you can return them for a free beverage. And, no, they don’t charge you extra for your clear mug; it’s all about the honor system at Bar Nine.
Suncafe is another vegan option — they make all of their vegan cheeses in-house — but they do more than whip up meat-free fare. The restaurant was named L.A.’s most ecologically sustainable in 2015 and have used recycled and reclaimed materials to build their patio. Aside from the ingredients they don’t whip up within their eco-friendly confines, they are diligent in sourcing produce and other products from those with equally stringent environmental practices.
- Yalla Mediterranean
At Yalla Mediterranean, you can customize your favorite Mediterranean flavors with the protein, spreads, sauces and veggies that you want. Stuff a pita, sprinkle a salad or fill a plate with responsibly raised meats and wild-caught salmon. Even the falafel is made of non-GMO chickpeas!
- The Albright
The Santa Monica Pier isn’t all just fun and games — you can find some seriously sustainable food there, too. The Albright’s commitment to environmental friendliness is impressive. Just visit the restaurant during the day and you’ll see that no lights are on. That’s all to save the earth, my friends.
On top of that, they donate any leftover grease to local biofuel manufacturers. They also incorporated reused materials into the construction of their eatery, rely on awnings to create shade and reduce energy expended on cooling, and have filled the kitchen with more energy-efficient appliances.
In an urban metropolis like Los Angeles, you probably can’t and don’t want to go foraging for food. The team at Forage has done the next best thing, then: they’ve worked closely with urban growers to have their harvests city certified so that they can incorporate local fruits and vegetables into their recipes. For this reason, the menu at forage changes regularly to keep up with the changing selection of ingredients available.
- Café Bellagio
The name Bellagio might conjure up images of a very fancy hotel in Las Vegas — don’t expect that from this quick-serve food stand in Santa Monica. But the stripped down look of this Bellagio has no influence on the very, very high quality of food served. The staff uses everything from grass-fed beef to cage-free eggs. They even go to the local Farmer’s Market twice a week to pick up more ingredients.
- Baco Mercat
The team at Baco Mercat is very conscious of the waste they create — and they do their best to reuse and recycle as much as they can. Their coffee grinds and vegetable scraps go to composters, the rest of their food waste is specially recycled and all of their recyclable materials go in the proper bins.
On top of that, they choose organic foods and the team will travel to farmer’s markets to buy as many local ingredients as possible. You can wash your eco-friendly meal down with a biodynamic, organic glass of wine, too.
Animal’s diligence is much like Baco Mercat’s. The team has their Farmer’s Market produce buys down to a science, so much so that one person is in charge of the haul for Animal as well as the other restaurants within the overarching group that owns it and other eateries like Son of a Gun, Petit Trois and Jon & Vinny’s. They fit everything into two vehicles and distribute between the franchises.
Kye’s menu makes it easy for gluten-free, vegan and paleo eaters to find food that fits their meal plans. On top of that, everything comes from a responsibly sourced, organic place. Everything you use to eat your burrito, wrap or shake will be compostable or recyclable. Oh, and the restaurant itself is made of renewable and all-natural materials. Just grab a wool-covered seat, wash your hands in the low-flow sinks or enjoy the well-maintained temperature from an eco-friendly nest system.
Clearly, there are so many options when it comes to sustainable eating in Los Angeles. Perhaps the toughest question to answer now is where you’ll eat first.