As consumers, it can be hard to buy the things we want while being conscious of how our decisions affect the environment. Choosing to eat at establishments making an effort to reduce their carbon footprints can make your belly and the planet a little happier. While these aren’t the only Cincinnati restaurants that have decided to become more environmentally conscious, they are making the effort.
Rooted Juicery + Kitchen — Whether you’re looking for cold-pressed juice, non-refined-sugar desserts or locally sourced bagel sandwiches, Rooted has you covered. If you’re ordering to-go, their plastic cutlery and food containers are biodegradable. And Rooted is a completely plant-based eatery — no animal products allowed, except for the occasional use of honey. “Each person who eats that way saves 1,000 gallons of water a day and over 30 square feet of forest,” says owner Megan Tysoe. Multiple locations including 3010 Madison Road, Oakley, rootedjuicery.com.
Base Camp Café at the Cincinnati Zoo — This café was named the Greenest Restaurant in America in 2013 — that’s out of every restaurant; not just zoos. At first glance, it looks like your standard fast-casual eatery with choices ranging from cheeseburgers and hotdogs to a side of fries. But, what do they do with all the grease? Answer: They convert their old cooking oil into biofuels. They also grow herbs and vegetables in an onsite aquaponics tank, grab 70 percent of their other produce from within 250 miles of the zoo, use certified grass-fed beef, divert 95 percent of all post-consumer café waste from landfills and utilize Energy Star-rated equipment and LED lighting. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.
The Whole Bowl — Clifton walk-up window Whole Bowl originated in Portland, Oregon, where sustainability is kind of their thing. “We do a number of things to promote environmental consciousness,” says local proprietor Micah Ovadia. A main focus is making sure their to-go items are compostable: The bowls have no wax or plastic lining, the lids are made from corn grown in America and they provide utensils made from birch wood, harvested from replanted forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 364 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, thewholebowl.com.
BrewRiver Gastropub — This New Orleans-inspired restaurant is in the process of opening a new space, BrewRiver Creole Kitchen in Oakley. They are another example of a place always trying to mix it up with their sustainability approach. About seven months ago, they switched from plastic to paper straws. They have a garden at their original East End location, and plan on continuing the tradition at their new place on a slightly larger scale. They also buy tomatoes from a Florence, Ky. farmstand. “Those are the best tomatoes I’ve ever had. The ones you buy in the grocery store just have no taste,” says manager Joby Bowman. Recently, they opened a walk-up window at Mason’s Sonder Brewing with biodegradable containers and cutlery. Even their sauce ramekins are made from corn, giving the pseudo-plastic a yellow tint and much less of an impact on the environment. More info at brewrivercreolekitchen.com.
Fusian — Established in 2010, this Ohio sushi chain has prioritized sustainability from day one. All their cups, lids and straws are completely compostable, and their paper products are made from post-consumer materials. They even have an area where guests can compost uneaten portions and food packaging and recycle the rest. Multiple locations including 600 Vine St., Downtown, fusian.com.
La Soupe — La Soupe collects unused, past its prime or “ugly” produce from different grocers and farmers in the city and uses it to make meals for food insecure families and others via their “Rescue Transform Share” program. According to their website, they utilized 277,273 pounds of unwanted produce in 2017. They also host the Bucket Brigade challenge, prompting other local restaurants to use some of the “rescued” produce to prepare dishes and then donate the meals back to La Soupe. Metropole downtown and E+O Kitchen in Hyde Park are examples of participating restaurants. 4150 Round Bottom Road, Newtown, lasoupecincinnati.com.
Sleepy Bee Café — Sleepy Bee is founded on bee-friendly, local and sustainable food practices. They harvest honey and grow fresh produce for their dishes at Tracy Street Garden, an urban community garden. Multiple locations including 3098 Madison Road, Oakley, sleepybeecafe.com.