Lifestyle

Chicago’s Green Dining Scene: Sustainable Eateries with Substance

Let’s face it. There are plenty of places to eat in Chicago. But it’s not always easy to pinpoint restaurants with substantial menus that also value sustainable, all-natural food choices. The Midwestern city’s bustling farm-to-table scene has definitely exploded over the years, and it has much to offer for all your eco-conscious, gluttonous cravings. We’ve rounded up five of the best organic eateries to start!

Floriole Café & Bakery

Chicago Guide Floriole - inside text - horizontal

Recently named one of the “Top 10 Bakeries Across the US” by Fodor’s Travel, Floriole Café & Bakery was once a 10×10 tent stand selling French pastries at Chicago’s popular Green City Market. Owners Sandra and Mathieu Holl’s dream of serving honest food from their own brick-and-mortar space came true when they opened their contemporary, bi-level bakery in Lincoln Park in 2010. They expanded their kitchen offerings to include breads, sandwiches, salads and even more culinary delights made fresh from locally sourced, organic ingredients (even fresh picked from their own roof-top garden by Verdura Edible Garden Design). Don’t miss their monthly family-style Sunday Supper Series, which offers a relaxing and tasty dinner made with seasonal finds at the local farmers’ markets. Trained in San Francisco at the California Culinary Academy, Sandra was a baker at the renowned Tartine Bakery and has been nominated for Best Chef by TimeOut Chicago, so you know the pastries are legit. With the flaky, melt-in-your-mouth croissants and artisanal sandwiches, not to mention the charming sidewalk seating, Floriole quickly became a neighborhood staple.

1220 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, IL 60614, USA
t. 773-883-1313
www.Floriole.com

 

Ceres’ Table

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After a successful several year stretch in their Uptown spot, Ceres’ Table recently re-opened in Chicago’s more populated East Lakeview neighborhood. Sicilian-born Chef Giuseppe Scurato serves up his native cuisine with Italian-inspired seasonal plates, even respecting the region’s technique, process, and unique history. As a result, Ceres’ takes pride in sustaining meaningful connections with local farmers for the finest ingredients. In their larger space, the expanded menu now features new offerings, such as homemade thin-crust pizza with cornmeal bottoms, fresh out of the brick-by-brick assembled wood-burning oven (try the Calabrese with spicy sausage and fresh-made cow’s milk mozzarella). Artisanal platters of salumi, formaggi, and bruschetta are available daily, and you’ll even find housemade charcuterie here. Balance out any number of their flavorful dishes with a glass of Italian wine or signature cocktail like the Lazy Hitman while you sample from shared plates with friends and family. Then be sure to follow up with the salted caramel budino for dessert!

3124 N. Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
t. 773-922-4020
www.CeresTable.com

 

Farmhouse Tavern

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A “Midwestern Craft Tavern,” Farmhouse Tavern follows the farm-to-fork concept by handcrafting their own burgers, condiments, and sodas from scratch. With liquors from local distilleries and more than 28 craft beers on tap–all from surrounding states–it’s easy to find something to wash down that farm fresh grub sourced directly from Chicago’s Green City Market and surrounding farms in the Midwest weekly. They’re even the only tavern in the country to serve wines from Michigan on tap. Farmhouse complements the Chicago tavern scene, but has a different vibe. More than 85% of their build-out was completed using salvaged materials, and they’ve even welcomed in some historical elements of Chicago through reclaimed pieces from an old furniture factory on Chicago’s south side and infamous Chicago bars and restaurants. Even their Bevador beer cooler was found at a mechanic’s shop on the city’s southwest side. Quickly embraced by the community, the tavern has even opened another location in Evanston.

228 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
t. 312-280-4960
For information on their Evanston, IL location, visit their website::
www.FarmhouseChicago.com

 

Lula Café

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Once a small storefront on Kedzie Boulevard equipped with a four burner home stove, thrifted pots and pans, and a former TGI Friday’s line cook more than a decade ago, today’s rustic Lula Café spans three storefronts and is deeply rooted in the Logan Square community. Along with his wife Amalea Tshilds, Jason Hammel, who interestingly was a protégé of the late novelist David Foster Wallace, is the owner and chef of Lula Café. Together they’ve created a go-to space for those up early or out late (the kitchen is open until 1 a.m. on weekends, a Chicago rarity). An early adopter of the farm-to-table principles, Lula continues to churn out memorably creative and comforting dishes.

Named after the fiery southern actress Tallulah Bankhead, Lula’s cozy atmosphere beckons–whether it’s reading a book at the bar with a glass of pinot noir or an espresso, indulging in their adventurous nightly six course vegetarian tasting menu on a first date, popping in for the cafe’s Ham and Raclette Panino at lunch, or celebrating a birthday with friends over oatmeal griddle cakes and beer-mosas for brunch. On Monday nights, Lula hosts their weekly farm dinner (prix fixe $38), a 13-year creative endeavor that has never once served the same dish twice. In addition to sourcing sustainable meat and fish as well as vegetables from the best and closest farmers, even from those right in the city, Lula has its own grow room. Over time, this neighborhood gem has certainly earned points for its well-crafted, fresh, and robust food options.

2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
t. 773-489-9554
www.LulaCafe.com

 

The Publican

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Inspired by simple farmhouse fare, The Publican is most famous for its pork (with seafood as its close contender). Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Cosmo Goss supply the restaurant with carefully considered sustainably-raised seafood and meat from local suppliers, so you can sleep well at night knowing that the hearty dishes you just polished off are eco-conscious. Their fresh vegetables, classic Belgian-style mussels, seafood stew, oysters, housemade charcuterie, country ribs, and signature Farm Chicken are thoughtfully prepared to show off the local fare. With hog portrait adorned walls, ample banquet table seating, and views of the partially open kitchen, the restaurant also features an extensive assortment of 100 international ales, lagers, stouts, and ciders. With dishes consisting of red wine-poached eggs over sourdough bread with béarnaise sauce and ribbons of prosciutto it’s no wonder they’ve graced Travel & Leisure’s top ten list of “America’s Best Brunches.” The Publican’s seasonally rotating and eclectic cuisine definitely gives diners a reason to “pig out” in the spacious European beer hall setting.

837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
t. 312-733-9555
www.ThePublicanRestaurant.com

Images by 
Ceres’ Table, Farmhouse Tavern, Floriole Café & Bakery, Lula Café, The Publican, Galdones Photography, Ferdia Doherty & Kevin Alexander, Townerphoto, Anthony Tahlier, Joni Kat Anderson, Mika Sasaki, Andrea Donadio