Cheap green eats

Eat, and spend, responsibly with affordable local, sustainable or environmentally friendly food.

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  • Bare Burger's elk cheeseburger

  • Bare Burger

  • Bark Hot Dogs

  • Choice Market' rosemary BLT

  • Choice Market

  • Eat

  • Luke's Lobster's lobster roll

  • Luke's Lobster

  • Northern Spy Food Co.'s mushroom sandwich

  • Northern Spy Food Co.

  • Otarian's vegetable biryani with cucumber-dill yogurt

  • Otarian

Bare Burger's elk cheeseburger

Bare Burger
The emphasis here is on reinventing American fast-food classics with unique, high-quality ingredients, which you can taste for yourself in the funky, deeply flavored elk cheeseburger, bound to its brioche bun with a mild, mayo-based sauce ($9.95). A side of earthy russet fries ($4.95) and the organic peanut-butter-chocolate milk shake ($5.95) are also not to be missed. And the sustainable cork walls, reclaimed-tin ceilings and spacious outdoor seating are a long way from your typical drive-through burger joint. 33-21 31st Ave at 34th St, Astoria, Queens (718-777-7011, bareburger.com)

Bark Hot Dogs
The spicy, snappy classic frank ($4.25) is sourced from artisanal, family-run Hartmann's Old World Sausage, and is worth every penny—especially since it comes with co-owners Joshua Sharkey and Brandon Gillis's fine-dining pedigree (they manned stoves at Caf Gray and Franny's, respectively). But the M.O. here is not just taste, it's ethics. To ensure that customers know where their meal comes from, food sources are listed on table cards, and the first thing you see when you walk through the door is a recycling station. According to the owners, nothing in the restaurant ends up in a landfill, right down to the cooking oil in the fryer (which is collected and made into biodiesel). 474 Bergen St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-789-1939, barkhotdogs.com)

Choice Market
The coffee here is Fair Trade, the eggs are free-range, and much of the food is sourced from the owners' nearby market, Choice Greene—but the focus is on sustaining community more than sustainable food. The fact that Choice makes a point of employing neighborhood teens and educating customers on healthy eating means everything is all that more delicious: Try a rosemary BLT ($6.95), the best croissant this side of Paris ($1.95) and mile-high layer cakes courtesy of Alain Ducasse--trained pastry chef Richard Chirol. 318 Lafayette Ave at Grand Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-230-5234)

Dos Toros
The lines have been long at this pint-sized storefront since Bay Area--born brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer starting slinging their tacos and burritos beneath reclaimed-tin ceilings in October 2009. Powered by wind and solar energy, the shop uses compostable plates and cutlery, while seating is made out of wood repurposed from an upstate barn. We love the compact $7.35 pollo asado burritos filled with local Cayuga Pure Organics beans and locally raised chicken that's both antibiotics-free and free-range, but it's the tender carnitas tacos (adorned only with cheese, fresh salsa and hot sauce) that bring us back—line or no line. 137 Fourth Ave between 13th and 14th Sts (212-677-7300, dostorosnyc.com)

Eat
Owner and chef Jordan Coln is so serious about serving local goods that he stopped selling coffee because of the distance it travels (guests are welcome to BYOC). Instead, he gets almost all of his ingredients from organic farmers in the Northeast, or in person at the McCarren Park farmers' market. The rustic charm is reflected in the pleasingly spare, ever-changing organic menu: Recent creations have included a spring lettuce and green spelt salad with radishes ($8) and a bright rhubarb-apple tart ($6). 124 Meserole Ave between Eckford and Leonard Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-389-8083, eatgreenpoint.com)

Luke's Lobster
Luke's shook up the seafood status quo last fall by introducing a thrifty $14 lobster roll, made with meat shipped from the Portland, Maine, seafood processing firm owned by coproprietor Luke Holden's father. This is an important distinction, since Maine's fishing laws are more strict than elsewhere, and emphasize practices that sustain the lobster population. Luke's buttery buns piled with sweet Maine shrimp ($7) or pillowy crab ($9) are served on recyclable material, and a portion of the restaurant's proceeds goes to support the Maine Lobstermen's Association. 93 E 7th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-387-8487) * 242 E 81st St between Second and Third Aves (212-249-4241) * lukeslobster.com

Northern Spy Food Co.
The enthusiastic young owners of this bright wood-paneled caf—a 2010 Eat Out Award winner—set out to create an affordable gathering place for like-minded locavores. Their success takes the form of simple dishes made with handmade products, like raw-milk cheeses from Vermont's Consider Bardwell Farm, bread from Sullivan Street Bakery and Brooklyn Brine Co. preserves. Thrifty standouts include a mushroom sandwich with seasonal fungi and artisanal cheddar ($10) and the Siberian-kale-and-potato soup ($7). 511 E 12th St between Aves A and B (212-228-5100, northernspyfoodco.com)

Otarian
Beige walls and flat-screen TVs make this minichain look a bit sterile, but there's a heartfelt mission behind the vegetarian menu: keeping a small carbon footprint (the staff goes so far as to thank you "for saving the planet" when you pick up your order). The restaurant calculates the CO2 emissions of its products and posts the number in kilograms, alongside the CO2 count for a comparable carnivorous version. The eclectic menu constitutes a U.K.-meets-U.S. mash-up, featuring picks like a Tex-Mex veggie burger ($7.95) and a mushroom-paneer wrap ($7.25). The more eclectic offerings are often the best—try the vegetable biryani with cucumber-dill yogurt ($9.95), or take a berry panna cotta to go ($4.95). 154 Bleecker St between La Guardia Pl and Thompson St (212-614-6834) * 947 Eighth Ave at 56th St (212-489-3270) * otarian.com

Roberta's Pizza
You can see the garden where your salad greens were grown and shake hands with the person that raised your honey at this hipster haven. Accessible prices mean even frugal eco-lovers can indulge; a chewy Margherita pizza topped with creamy house-made mozzarella is a filling meal for one, and clocks in at a mere nine bucks. Garnishes are sourced from the Roberta's garden, and owner Chris Parachini also uses his restaurant-cum-clubhouse to host everything from a seminar on sustainable rabbit farming to the indie Heritage Radio station, which features shows such as We Dig Plants and operates out of a shipping container in the back. 261 Moore St between Bogart and White Sts, Bushwick,Brooklyn (718-417-1118, robertaspizza.com)

Ronnybrook Milk Bar
The caf outpost of organic upstate dairy mainstay Ronnybrook Farms is great for grabbing an affordable breakfast or lunch to go, and you can rest assured that the cow your decadently rich chocolate milk came from roamed actual pastures and was never injected with hormones. The food—like a well-seasoned free-range-chicken salad sandwich with tarragon and apple ($8.50)—offers fresh twists on classics and is an easy take-out option if you feel like perching on the nearby High Line, though we prefer to drink our apple-pie-ice-cream milk shakes surrounded by the store's walls, composed of antique wooden milk crates. Chelsea Market, 5 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (212-741-6455, ronnybrook.com)

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