Great Organic Restaurants to Try for Clean Eating
What Is Organic Food?
Organic food is produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. These standards vary worldwide, but organic farming in general, feature practices that strive to cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations that regulate organic products restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers in farming. In general, organic foods are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or synthetic food additives.
Currently, the United States requires producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic. These regulations ensure that organic food is produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by regional organizations, national governments, and international organizations. Even though kitchen garden produce is organic, it cannot be sold as such due to the certification process of selling organic foods.
How to Tell If a Restaurant Is Organic
The only way to truly know if a restaurant is serving organic produce is if it is legally certified as an organic restaurant. And in truth, unless the restaurant in question is certified organic, there is no real way to know. The certification process means that they’ve been through their own separate certification process and the statements they make on their menus have been verified by an independent party. The question is, why don’t we see more certified organic restaurants around? It’s because certified restaurants are few and far between. There are only eight in the entire United States; four in Seattle, one each in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Carmel, Calif.
The reason that there are not more certified organic restaurants is because it is not mandatory to serve organic food. There is nothing to stop restaurant owners from serving organic produce, meat, and dairy, regardless of whether the restaurant itself is certified. Currently, the certification process is done through a 3rd party company named, “Oregon Tilth’s”. The company itself acknowledges that the process is in place mainly for companies who want to lead by example and take their transparency to the next level.
What does organic certification mean for a restaurant? It means that every product that comes into the restaurant is tracked with an individual lot number, and both organic and conventional products have to be clearly and systematically separated. The restaurant must then specify, on their menu, or another public document, what is or is not organic. In addition to food tracking and labeling, storage and food preparation practices must also prevent commingling of organic and conventional ingredients. Organic ingredients also must be stored above conventional ones, and separate cutting boards must be kept and maintained. Yes, it sounds like a very labor intensive process.
Popular Organic Restaurants Around the World
Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles:
Looking for a quick and healthy bite in the City of Angels? Head to Cafe Gratitude, which has locations in Venice, Downtown L.A., and Beverly Hills. Visitors will also be asked by their waiter to ponder what they're grateful for and share it with the table. A truly unique addition to any meal.
Since Ercu opened, it has brought Romans and tourists a taste of some truly magnificent organic and vegan bites. Diners discover dishes like raw noodle plates and vegan sushi, and plates made with vegan cheeses and smoothies blended with nut milk.
Aro Hā Wellness Resort, Glenorchy, New Zealand:
For top-notch organic eating, stay a night at the Aro HāWellness Resort in New Zealand. This retreat also leads cooking classes so participants can bring new skills home and continue with organic, clean, vegetarian eating all year round.
Birdsong Organic Cafe, Mumbai:
Birdsong Cafe, located in West Bandra, isn’t just for vegans. The cafe serves a wide selection of organic offerings and gluten-free options.
Ojo de Agua, Mexico City:
Juicing is already popular in Mexico City, but perhaps nobody does it better than Ojo De Aqua. Located in the Colonia Condesa neighborhood, it offers a variety of juices in a rainbow of colors alongside their fruit and vegetable dishes. Diners can choose to stay and eat their freshly-made salads and sandwiches in the shop or opt for takeout to continue exploring.
Zucchini, Wilderness, South Africa:
Zucchini, located in the Timberlake Organic Village in Wilderness, is one of the coolest spots on this list. Its unique meals are served either outside in the sunshine or inside next to the restaurant’s rounded fireplace. This place makes for a perfect destination for a slow and joyful organic meal.
Daylight Kitchen, Tokyo:
Tokyo's Daylight Kitchen, a large natural foods cafe, and a popular lunch spot which serves both meat and vegan options. The restaurant is also a dinner destination, though the kitchen may stop serving a full hour before closing, better get in early.
Honest Mary’s, Austin:
Honest Mary's, a fast-casual eatery, is bringing some amazing appetizing grain bowls and salads to Austin. All of their meals and ingredients are handmade each day, ensuring the freshest flavors.
Popular Clean Eating Restaurant Chains in the United States
Thanks to the new crop of all-vegan restaurants, eating clean while dining out just keeps getting easier. Below are nine highlighted restaurants that demonstrate clean eating principles. Whether it’s eliminating artificial and processed ingredients or incorporating local, organic ingredients.
When it comes to greater ingredient transparency and healthier food options, Panera continues to be well ahead of the curve. In 2015, Panera unveiled its No No List, which includes more than 150 artificial ingredients the company pledged to banish from its menus by the end of 2016. From eliminating caramel color previously found in their balsamic vinaigrette to removing artificial additives in their bacon, Panera continues to show its commitment to cleaner ingredient sourcing.
Jason’s Deli removed high fructose corn syrup, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), and trans-fats from its menu in 2008. And it continues to commit to cleaner ingredients, the menu has been free of both artificial colors and flavors since 2015.
A Washington, D.C.-based fast-casual restaurant that churns out high-quality salads using only regionally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. Their menu changes fives times each year, ensuring freshness and they incorporate organic ingredients whenever possible. Every Sweetgreen restaurant also displays a list of local farmers and growers who supply the ingredients specific to each location.
Pret A Manger:
Pret A Manger made its name for its wide selection of prepared crusty baguette sandwiches and fresh salads which are made daily. Where Pret A Manger really shines is with its breakfast selection, they offer organic coffee (with organic milk), fresh fruit, oatmeal, muesli, Greek yogurt, cage-free eggs, and more. The company is also committed to improving animal welfare and has pledged to implement more humane processing methods for chicken by 2024.
rōti Modern Mediterranean:
Staples of the Mediterranean Diet such as whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins inspire the menu at rōti. Ranging from organic chickpeas for hummus to non-GMO rice and sustainably-farmed salmon from True North Seafood. With plenty of nutritious ingredient combinations for salads, rice bowls, wraps, and pita sandwiches, building a healthy meal at rōti is easy.
Le Pain Quotidien:
This Brussels-based bakery and restaurant specialize in tartines, whole-grain salads, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, and veggie frittatas. In particular, Le Pain Quotidien’s bread uses organic ingredients and is baked in-house daily without preservatives. The restaurant opts for organic whenever possible and has plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
Veggie Grill boasts an impressive 100% vegan menu. They offer loads of plant-based products like burgers using Beyond Meat patties and whole grain bowls. Veggie Grill is a perfect choice for customers looking to eat less meat.
LYFE Kitchen was formed by some of McDonald’s top executives. It is a fast-casual restaurant that prides itself on responsibly-sourced ingredients and veggie-packed, lower-calorie dishes. According to the company, beef is grass-fed, with high fructose corn syrup, and GMOs banned across the menu.
Juice Press is mostly known for its cold-pressed juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables. But they also offer smoothies and nutrient-dense salads, soups, and healthy breakfasts. With multiple locations around the country, the vegan-friendly chain even makes it easy to maintain its Clean Eating Plan. This plan allows customers to choose between a three or five day supply of juices, snacks, and meals. According to Juice Press, 100% of its products are USDA certified organic and Kosher.
How to Find Local Organic Restaurants
One of the best and easiest ways to find local organic restaurants, farmers, and groceries is to use the Eat Well Guide. The website provides you with information about all of the registered organic restaurants and groceries in your area. All you have to do is search based off of your location and the Eat Well Guide does the rest.