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4 Sustainable Places to Dine in New York City

Healthy dishes, coming right up!

This month, we’re continuing the sustainability conversation here at Beauty and Well-Being—from luxury fashion retailers to shoes and now, restaurants that are going green. A huge part of the New York lifestyle is the dining scene, but it can be pretty overwhelming to choose from all the countless places offering meals or drinks. Good thing many restaurants in town are making it easier for environmental enthusiasts with sustainability initiatives galore. Here, we tried out a few delectable spots that have us dreaming about our next visit back. 

west~bourne, 137 Sullivan Street

Photo credit: Nicole Franzen

Journey back to the 1960s upon a visit to west~bourne. Inspired by Los Angeles, the Soho vegetarian restaurant founded by Camilla Marcus is an ode to her hometown and takes its sustainability mission to heart. All of the food is purchased from Baldor, a zero-waste restaurant supplier and has a seasonal menu that’s plant-based and “stem-to-root” (meaning west~bourne fully uses their produce by repurposing what is often thrown out, like seeds, skins, and greens). The Echo Tacos, served as a pair, are a must-try with onion-pepper-potato hash, romaine, American cheese, and crispy corn tortilla. The laidback vibe of the counter-service restaurant is made with reclaimed stone from a local seaport and upcycled wood throughout the space. Even the reusable denim napkins by Atelier Saucier are thoughtfully selected to match. What’s more, is west~bourne works in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation to donate a portion of every purchase to the neighboring non-profit The Door (to fund hospitality job training for young adults).

Maman, 22 West 25th Street (and more locations in New York and Canada)

Meaning “mother” in French, Maman is the type of place you would visit for a delectable pick-me-up (think: matcha lattes, pistachio chocolate croissants, and avocado toast). The café, restaurant, and event space was founded in 2014 by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte who still reminisce over childhood memories with their mothers in the kitchen. Fancy enough for a tea party and casual enough to serve as a remote office, the rustic space is filled with upcycled and reused furniture. Maman also teams up with Be Green to offer 100% plant fiber recyclable and biodegradable food packaging. Bring in your own cup, or better yet, buy one of their signature reusable blue floral ceramic mugs while you’re there, and receive a sweet discount. One more thing: Maman offers French yogurt by La Fermière, which comes in mini pots that can be repurposed to hold flowers, herbs, jam, or any other tiny treasures that just might need a home.

Grand Banks, Pier 25, Hudson River Park

Photo credit: Doug Lyle Thompson

Playing make-believe couldn’t feel more real when you’re aboard Grand Banks. Stepping onto the wooden vessel that operates as a restaurant and an oyster bar is the next best thing to a dream getaway as you can get in New York City. Docked in Tribeca, the “Sherman Zwicker” (hand-built in 1942) once sailed the seas throughout the Americas trading cod and salt. Today, it’s the go-to place for oysters, lobsters, and sustainable seafood by executive chef Kerry Heffernan. You can feel good about dining here, too: all of the oyster shells are recycled through the Billion Oyster Project to help rebuild the oyster population in the New York Harbor. Plastic straws were also eliminated in 2017 and drinks are now served in reusable glassware, so you can toast that Aperol Spritz guilt-free while enjoying a meal under the yellow-and-white striped canopy of the historic boat. Get ready as the restaurant will open back up for the season in April through October.

Van Leeuwen, 152 West 10th Street (and more locations in New York and Los Angeles)

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a good ol’ ice cream cone from Van Leeuwen. The dessert shop— which started as a yellow truck in New York City—offers vegan-based, dairy-free, and plant-based products that are consciously made to promote a healthier planet by reducing the amount of land and water resources expended in the manufacturing process. Flavor-wise, there are plenty: from classics like pistachio to specials including Irish cream (with whiskey), and of course, vegan options such as cookie crumble strawberry jam. In support of farm-to-factory production practices, Van Leeuwen works closely with local producers and artisan suppliers to invest time in building personal relationships. In addition, they are transparent about where the raw materials and final products come from. All of the ice cream is made from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with love.

Feature Image Credit: Alan Silverman

Wendy Sy

Wendy Sy is a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle writer based in New York City. In addition to her editorial website, Style Meets Story, her work has been featured in Allure, Avenue Magazine, InStyle, and more. When she’s not brainstorming ideas for upcoming articles, you can find her spending countless hours searching for lost treasures at vintage shops. Photo by Sophie Elgort.

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