Eateries claiming to be "sustainable" and "eco-friendly" are a dime a dozen. Separating the posers from the honestly passionate can be tricky. At these local restaurants, earth-friendly initiatives aren’t just a PR strategy; their teams actually do care about their impact on the environment.
The origins, mission statements, and practices of these places are driven with purpose, but the fare remains classically satisfying and totally accessible.
This Earth Day, do more than recycle a can or plant a tree. Support a local business and the planet at the same time.
5. The Lunchbox
Aptly named for its role as a casual, quick-service lunch stop, the Lunchbox caters both to on-the-go locals and to the environment. All the disposable items are made from completely recycled and biodegradable materials, and the decor features furniture scavenged from nearby thrift stores. The seasonal menu is clean, simple, and veggie-driven. Grab a chop chop salad ($10) for the road,or settle into the Wynwood spot and sample an assortment of tapas dishes like the shrimp taquitos ($10) and green papaya slaw ($8).
4. Choices Café
While other restaurants have been swiftly hopping on the vegan and health-food bandwagon, Choices Café has been serving up wholesome, Earth-friendly cuisine since 2011. The all-vegan menu is now served in five locations, offering innovative options such as the Chicken Homie with vegan “chick’n” and cashew cheese ($14.56). For those who are new to the nonmeat scene, dishes like the kale Caesar ($10.97) are a good way to ease into vegan eating. Through their cuisine, Choices aims to promote plant-based diets and green practices. More than 95 percent of their ingredients are grown without pesticides, and the company hopes to embark on educational outreach projects in the near future.
It’s not surprising that Wynwood is home to two of the greenest restaurants in Miami, and KYU, located at 251 NW 25th St., also happens to offer some of the best cuisine in the area. The wood-fired Asian barbecue spot awakens the taste buds with a menu that unites bright, clean notes and indulgent, rich flavors. If that’s not enough of an attraction, chef Michael Lewis and general manager Steven Haigh crafted the concept with sustainability in mind. Potted micro herbs dot the dining room, and a full garden is in the works. KYU also strives to use local ingredients and recently donated 10,000 trees to be planted in West Africa. There’s even an in-house Orca composter that turns food waste into water — something few other Miami restaurants can match.
The Dirt team, including former Fooq’s chef Nicole Votano, built their mission around three things: people, food, and planet. They are strong believers in the benefits of supporting local farms and elevate responsibly grown ingredients in light, satisfying dishes. The menu changes seasonally, with plenty of options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo diners. In other words, feel free to bring anyone from a committed carnivore to a die-hard vegan. The restaurant itself features energy-efficient lighting, a 100-percent pollution-free energy source and recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable packaging materials.
1. Lokal Burgers & Beer
Lokal knows that successfully sustainable dining must extend beyond the menu. Granted, Matthew Kuscher’s iconic spot in Coconut Grove offers comforting, casual fare that blows average burger joints out of the water. Yet what makes this place a true Miami favorite is its relaxed, good-vibes spirit that translates into truly eco-friendly initiatives. Kuscher’s environmental care is evident from the recycled decor to the restaurant’s backyard garden and completely renewable energy sources. Of course, local ingredients are at the forefront of the concept, and items like grass-fed beef are used in popular menu items such as the chili burger ($12) and their version of the frita ($13).