Organic. Local. Natural. In a world of green movements and sustainable living, it’s no wonder so many restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon. Which is why it’s hard to distinguish between the ones that are all talk and the real deal. And while organic and farm-fresh imply health and sustainability, they sometimes suggest a heftier dinner bill. So we thought we’d weed through them and separate the men from the boys.
We’re keying you in to some of the best restaurants with sustainable, organic, and locally grown food at a delicious price. From housemade burrata with garlic and basil grown on the roof of Bell, Book, and Candle to fall flavors and pumpkin ales at Northern Spy, the green movement is more than a niche market. It’s also an affordable one. Sample the wood-roasted eggplant at Franny’s or pair a Blue Point Lager with a grass-fed burger at Community Food and Drink.
Address: 261 Moore Street
Tucked inside an old garage, you’ll find a Bushwick eatery with a local food movement flourishing inside. The secret’s been out on Roberta’s for some time and for good reason. The beers are served in mason jars and the pizzas piles piled high with basil and seasonal tomatoes, fresh from the on-site garden. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and arugula are just a few of the items grown on Roberta’s farm. And on September 20th, Roberta’s is hosting a “Fall Garden Dinner,” — a culinary event that aims to bolster the maintenance and expansion of the garden. The evening will feature “Roof Garden” cocktails, Six Point Beer, and a Heritage Foods roast suckling pig. With proceeds from the event, Roberta’s will be expanding its garden, which means more super fresh ingredients grown right on the premises.
Address: 295 Flatbush Ave.
People often throw around the the term “pioneer,” but we’re comfortable dubbing Franny’s a pioneer, not only on the Brooklyn restaurant scene, but also on the sustainability front. They’ve paving the way for eco-friendly restaurants since opening its doors seven years ago. Owners Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg are passionate about doing their part: They work with Con Ed to convert their kitchen grease into bio-diesel oil and use mostly recycled paper goods. As for the autumn menu, there’s a pork cheek and beef tongue terrine or you can keep it light with an heirloom and tomato salad, which you should seize while they’re still in season. And Roberta’s not the only one with a great pie. Franny’s signature pizza comes topped with an outstanding mix of clams, chilies and parsley. If you’re still skeptical, Franny’s provides guests with a list of its local vendors and ingredients, so you know they’re the real deal.
Northern Spy Food Co.
Address: 511 East 12th Street
Mom-and-pop bodegas, cafés, bakeries, and restaurants abound in the East Village, many of which feature vegan or organic menus. But what sets Northern Spy Food Co. apart is its rigorously seasonal and local menu. Even the restaurant’s name resonates locality: Northern Spy is a New York heirloom apple variety. What better time to celebrate apples than autumn with their standout, signature apple pie. As the leaves change color so do the dishes, with the addition of vividly colored cranberry beans, heirloom squashes, and flageolets. The proof is in the pudding, or should we say the pork. Slice into the Hudson Valley Pork, a rotating daily cut matched with lentils, Romano beans and a natural au jus.
Community Food and Juice
Address: 2893 Broadway, btwn. 112th and 113th
No one wants to pick between a new a pair of shoes and a great meal, which is why we adore this uptown newcomer and its many dining deals. On Mondays, Community offers a grass-fed burger and beer special with your choice of fall brews and hard ciders. And come Wednesdays, there’s half-priced bottles of organic wine. Heritage Foods, Fossil Farms, and NY Wholesale are just a few of the suppliers Community brings to the your plate, guaranteeing a consistent selection of grass-fed and antibiotic-free beef, cage-free eggs, and free-roaming and corn-fed poultry.
Address:1307 Third Avenue, between 74th and 75th
This Upper East Side eatery holds the honor of being named the first certified green restaurant in New York City. Despite the recent onslaught of organic and sustainable spots (we’re not complaining), this vegan institution more than holds its own in terms of flavor and philosophy. As Frank Bruni pointed out in a New York Times review, you don’t even miss the meat at Candle Cafe. For autumn, the seasonal selection of dishes includes a Tuscan Lasagna or specials, the likes of roast acorn squash with quinoa pilaf and sauteed greens or a black rice salad with cabbage, peppers and oyster mushrooms. We’re suckers for their seasonal fruit crumb pie for dessert.
Bell Book and Candle
Address: 141 W. 10th Street
Farm to table? Try roof to table. Sixty percent of the ingredients here are grown organically, right on the rooftop of this West Village eatery. Parsley, Japanese and Kermit eggplant, Italian and flat-leaf parsley, and dill are just a few of the items you’ll find in the aeroponic garden at Bell Book and Candle. We’re going to miss the cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes of summer, but we’re looking forward to sampling the root vegetables that come with the seasonal menu changes. Think cauliflower, carrots and collards. And as summer fades into fall, indulge in your favorite comfort foods, like the BBC burger paired with pickles from those crunchy rooftop cucumbers of summer and the peach cobbler.