One of the perks of living in New York, is that there are just too many farm-to-table and organic restaurants to name. But if you’re looking for a bucket list of amazing dining experiences or a short list of places to try on your vacation, this is it. I’ll be totally up front with you: I haven’t been to every restaurant on this list (exactly half, actually), because I have a budget and a life. The ones I haven’t personally dined at, I added due to my extensive research, personal recommendations from friends, and the number of times I’ve just generally heard its name.
But believe me, I WILL visit every one of these before I die. You want to go with me?
ABC Kitchen – USQ
You wouldn’t think a restaurant attached to a furniture store would be all that great, but ABC is no regular furniture store. It’s pretty much New York City’s flagship high-end furniture, home decor, and rug store, with an amazing selection of made-in-America and eco-friendly items. That ethos extends to the restaurant, which is of course impeccably decorated. But that’s besides the point. The real point is the seasonal menu of beautiful and delicious entrees you’ll be thinking about for months afterward, served on handcrafted plates on a locally-made table. Flip over the menu and you’ll find more information than you would ever need about where your food comes from. The fact that you might run into a celebrity on your way out the door is just a perk. Read my full review.
Lighthouse – Williamsburg
Located just two blocks away from our apartment, Lighthouse was my and my husband’s go-to brunch, dinner, and cocktail spot before we even realized it was so sustainable! Owner Naama Tamir is passionate about holistic sustainability, and heads up the sustainability initiatives for the Williamsburg/Greenpoint bar tradegroup BABAR. A low-waste restaurant, Lighthouse serves cocktails with reusable metal straws, separates out organic waste to give to a friend for natural dying, sends the rest of the organic waste away with BK Rot, provides used bottles to another friend for their candle company, and provides their old oyster shells to the Billion Oyster Project. They serve food sourced from local farms, use nontoxic cleaning products, and employ a nontoxic pest control company. Every detail of reducing their negative impact on the earth has been thought of. Those paper napkins they use? Those help the compost, which needs paper and wood chips to balance out the wet food waste. There’s also Lighthouse Outpost in Manhattan to try.
Roberta’s – Bushwick
Not to be confused with the West Village restaurant Rosemary’s (I’ll get to that one in a sec), this thoroughly Bushwick restaurant has become a destination for those seeking locally-sourced comfort food with a cool crowd. Roberta’s solidified its hip factor by hosting the famous Tiki Disco parties in its backyard. But the food is enough in of itself for a visit down the L line. The crisp pizza is topped from local ingredients, some sourced right from Roberta’s back yard. The ribs are orgasmic. In the summer, pass the time waiting for a coveted table by grabbing a beer or cocktail from the tiki bar out back and ordering some apps.This is just an overview! Download my guide to NYC for all my favorite restaurants, cafés, and stores. It’s sorted by type and by neighborhood.
Rosemary’s – West Village
For a more glamorous farm-to-table experience, visit this spacious restaurant (which is always overcrowded anyway). There’s no reservations, so bring a comfy pair of shoes so you can set up with a glass of wine or beer (no cocktails) and some tapas at the communal standing table by the bar and discuss the fact that Rosemary’s has a rooftop garden. The food is well worth the infuriating wait, with gorgeous flavors in affordable pasta dishes. Despite this, the crowd is well-heeled, and if you’re lucky, you’ll overhear some entertaining wannabe-1%er conversations while you eat.
Diner – Williamsburg
The genesis of the Diner empire, which includes other notable restaurants like Marlow and Sons, and the market Marlow and Daughters a couple doors down, this restaurant is all about knowing where your meat comes from. For 15 years, it’s been the go-to for Williamsburg residents, and a destination for anyone else in the know. The spoken-word menu changes almost daily, with satisfying entrees and tasty cocktails. There are vegetarian options, but this place is for unpretentious meat lovers. I mean, it’s not like the decor is fancy (it really is in a barely renovated old diner) but it’s Brooklyn, so who cares?
Al di Lá – Park Slope
One of the reportedly best Italian restaurants in New York, this resto has a loooong wait to get in for a reason. It’s hard to describe the level of obsession people have for this place, which is one of those restaurants that is, yes, better than most Manhattan places, too. Go for the braised rabbit or hangar steak, and finish off with a perfect little gelati. Almost all ingredients are sourced locally from farms with sustainable practices.
Blue Hill – West Village
The Rolls Royce of upscale, farm-t0-table dining in New York, Blue Hill is on the bucket list of both conscious eaters and regular foodies with money to spend. (The Blue Hill at Stone Barns north of the city, which includes a working farm on the premises, is on the ultra bucket list.) You’ll be overwhelmed by the perfect service and long tasting menu of pretty, little, locally sourced delights. But if you aren’t in the mood to go all out, you can order a la carte as well for a fabulous entree–vegetarian or consciously carnivore.
The Good Fork – Red Hook
This unpretentious eatery in Red Hook sources right from a Red Hook farm, for hyper local ingredients. The result is a out-of-control, SO-SO-GOOD, hyper-delicious fusion of Korean and American food that brings both locals and Manhattanites for dinner and brunch. The service is always friendly and efficient. They do a great cocktail, too.
Mas Farmhouse – West Village
With a well-curated wine list, favorites like salted caramel ice cream and razor clam chowder, and impeccable service, Mas Farmhouse is a destination for diners looking for locally-sourced food served in an upscale setting. (It’s sad that it’s so hard to find French-influenced food using local ingredients–the French love shopping at the market!) It’s held up well beyond the initial first year of adoring reviews. The chef’s tasting menu is highly recommended for its inventiveness. But the kitchen is famously accommodating to requests, and you won’t feel rushed to finish and pay.
Prune – LES
After opened this acclaimed restaurant, chef Gabrielle Hamilton wrote the popular book Blood, Bones and Butter, about her travels and multiple influences. You see that in the menu here, which can’t quite be pinned down to one cuisine, but is just simple, interesting, and mouth-watering. Beat the enormously long lines (and wave off the the fact that it’s a bit crowded inside), and the brunch will be one of your favorites of your New York City career.
The Bounty – Greenpoint
Just about the only place in the city that focuses on sustainable seafood, The Bounty serves up fresh, seasonal, local fair, including a few solid meat dishes, like burger or duck. If you just want a drink, the bartenders take their cocktails seriously. And the decor is all salvaged and recycled as well, for a cozy, friendly vibe in any season. Read my whole review.
Atera – TriBeCa
The fact that this place offers a four-course “foraging” tasting menu should tell you all you need to know. But I’ll go on. This is local food done fancy style, so expect to be delighted from the moment you step in the door with tiny dishes that inspire wonder and awe. The attentive but not overbearing waitstaff is eager to show you a perfect and memorable dining experience, if the creative dishes aren’t enough to send you away starry eyed. As far as price, it’s a 2-star Michelin restaurant–you definitely get what you pay for. If you can’t snag a reservation for dinner in the tiny dining room, try the lounge for cocktails and some bites.
Craft – USQ
Just a stone’s throw from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, the upscale Craft serves a smorgasburg of yummy dishes that are heavy on the melt-in-your-mouth, local meat. But there are plenty of local and heirloom produce dishes as well. It helps to study the menu beforehand so you won’t be overwhelmed by the choices. It’s a special favorite of people hoping to celebrate a birthday in style, or celebrating a big business win. No wonder, the large dining room can easily seat large groups, and the experience feels luxurious.
Fort Defiance – Red Hook
Whether you’re there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, For Defiance does everything well, from the drip coffee to the hamburger to the oysters to the cheese plate. The menu changes periodically, so you’ll want to come back to try more items from the southern-inspired menu in a rockabilly setting. So, don’t be confused by the heavy emphasis on well-crafted cocktails. You can leave this place full, yet still craving another bite of the chicken fois gras.
Hearth – East Village
Nothing cute or kitschy about this place, just a classy setting for well-executed, locally sourced food. In fact, you could call it a staple of the farm-to-table scene at this point. The menu is simple, delicious, American/Italian fair, like pork loin and duck papardelle. For a romantic date, head next door to Terroir, it’s cute little wine bar. The kitchen serves both. Read my whole review.
The Fat Radish – LES
The fashion set loves this place, and it’s where I suggest whenever I want to impress someone and guarantee a delicious, locally-sourced meal. The food is reasonably priced, despite the general air of people Getting Stuff Done. You could go decadent, with a gnocchi dish or hamburger, or go for a lighter bowl stuffed with seasonal vegetables, and a freshly-pressed glass of juice. Either way, it’s hard not to like this restaurant that–if you’re cool enough–you could make your regular spot. Read my whole review.
The Farm on Adderley – Ditmas Park
Hey, this may be way out there on the Q, but it’s worth the trip for an impeccable farm-to-table menu of organic burgers, fries, seasonal vegetable dishes, and scruptious desserts. You can even order an organic beer or organic cocktail. It’s a family friendly place (hey, it’s Ditmas) which is can be a plus or minus, depending on your love of kids. But with it being so spacious, you can easily scootch your table away from an unruly toddler.
Lot 2 – Park Slope
Situated away from the Park Slope hoards, it’s easier to snag a table at this restaurant than it should be. The local, organic ingredients are served up in a short but sweet menu. Try the burger with duck fat potatoes. Or for something healthy, a kale salad or a filling arborio rice dish. And grab a homemade soda and gooey chocolate chip cookie for the locavore’s version of a comforting after-school snack.
Bell, Book & Candle – West Village
This Slow Food approved restaurant does farm-to-table one better: it’s rooftop-to-table. The cocktails menu is so delightful that is overshadows the organic comfort food menu, which is hard to do. Start with the amazeballs happy hour specials, end with a lovely ice cream sandwich.
Café Blossom – West Village
I can’t make a best sustainable restaurant list without a solid vegetarian/vegan option, and Blossom makes the cut. Health nuts will love that they can order kombucha or organic cocktails and beer along with their vegan meal, but even carnivores will leave feeling satisfied and looking forward to trying other pan-world dishes on the menu of this upscale establishment.
Candle Cafe and Candle 79 – UWS and UES
Despite the proliferation of farm-to-table restaurants, it’s still rare to see an organic cocktail menu. But Candle 79 not only serves organic alcohol, it even has a cocktail that donates to reforesting projects. That’s the level of detail they pay to being an eco-friendly restaurant. It pays off; many vegan New Yorker consider Candle Cafe and Candle 79 their favorite vegan restaurants. Probably because it’s less trying to “fake” meat, than do it one better. Seriously, try the seitan piccata. You won’t be disappointed. Read my whole review.