As one of the leaders in innovation in the areas of organic foods and sustainable agriculture, the San Francisco bay area has plenty to offer in terms of organic restaurant options. Numerous restaurants emphasize seasonal, locally grown ingredients and many serve either entirely organic meals or use organic produce and products whenever possible. Here’s a roundup of the best of the bay for organic eating.
The Organic Gourmet
One of San Francisco’s most famous vegetarian restaurants is Greens, which offers creative vegetarian cuisine using seasonal, organic ingredients. Emphasizing a mélange of culinary traditions from the Mediterranean, Mexico, and the American Southwest, menu options include fresh pea ravioli with snap, snow, and English peas; a deep dish pie with yellow finn potatoes, butternut squash, crimini mushrooms; as well as more traditional pastas and pizzas.
In addition to its cuisine, another highlight of a visit to Greens is the view. Located in the Marina’s Fort Mason, the restaurant offers dramatic views of the San Francisco bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. Fort Mason Bldg A, San Francisco. 415-771-6222.
Millenium, one of San Francisco’s premier vegetarian restaurants, is located in the Savoy Hotel, a boutique European-style hotel near Union Square. Millenium serves gourmet vegetarian cuisine, organic if possible, that is free of any genetically modified foods. Entrées lean toward the exotic such as seitan medallions in a Marsala mushroom sauce and a porcini-portobello mushroom ragout. The wine list includes an extensive collection of organic wines from around the world. 580 Geary Street, San Francisco. 415-345-3900.
Another city option is 1550 Hyde Café and Wine Bar. Located near Russian Hill, this restaurant offers seasonal fresh organic cuisine in a bistro setting. Roasted Hoffman farms chicken with yellowfoot chanterelles, Niman Ranch rib-eye with herbed frites, and local halibut with yellowfin potatoes and bloomsdale spinach are among the menu offerings. The international wine list is extensive and includes a variety of organic wines. 1550 Hyde St San Francisco CA. 415-775-1550
Light and Casual
If you’re looking for lighter fare in the city, consider Juicey Lucy’s, San Francisco’s only organic juice bar. Located in North Beach, it offers a relaxing ambiance reminiscent of Haight Ashbury. In addition to organic juices, Juicey Lucy’s also serves soups, sandwiches, and smoothes. 703 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco. 415)-786-1285.
Outside the city center, the Crissy Field Warming Hut is a café that emphasizes organic and locally grown ingredients. The building itself was renovated using green building techniques and also contains a bookstore devoted to environmental topics. All café and bookstore proceeds benefit the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Menu items include baked goods, smoothies, sandwiches (vegetarian and free-range turkey), seasonal soups, and shade-grown, organic coffees. Presidio Building 983, San Francisco. 415-561-3040.
Venturing Out of Town
With a strong emphasis on locally grown, seasonal cuisine, there are a multitude of restaurants in the greater bay area that focus on organic ingredients.
Heading north of the city, you’ll find Roxanne’s in Marin County. Roxanne’s is the first completely organic raw foods restaurant in the country and has received extensive media attention for its innovative menu. The restaurant emphasizes fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers grown in its own 3-acre garden or from other local, sustainable sources. The menu changes daily, but selections you could encounter include yellow curried vegetables with biryani rice or a Mediterranean platter of falafel, hummus, dolmas and Greek salad served with lemon yogurt sauce. 320 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur. 415-924-5004.
Further north in tiny Guerneville is Spark’s Restaurant, which serves organic vegetarian cuisine emphasizing seasonal ingredients. Spark’s handcrafted, vegan menu varies based on what’s in season, but possibilities include a Balinese rice plate with sautéed pea pods, peppers, and tofu; a Mexican torte with layers of tortillas, beans, and yam; or a grilled Portobello mushroom served on creamy polenta. Spark’s also offers gourmet vegetarian cooking classes. 16248 Main Street, Guerneville. 707-869-8206.
Zatar in Berkeley offers organic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, seasonal ingredients often grown in their own organic gardens. The name Zatar comes from a Mediterranean herb mixture used frequently at the restaurant that combines seeds, oregano, thyme, and sumac. Main courses include winter vegetables with sprouted green wheat, boneless Niman Ranch leg of lamb, and chicken kebabs (made with free-range, organic chicken). 1981 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. 510-841-1981.
A charming garden oasis in the midst of suburban San Ramon, Mudd’s Restaurant presents California cuisine that is seasonal, fresh, and organic where possible. Much of the produce comes from the large garden next door to the restaurant or from the nearby Crow Canyon Gardens. Smoked organic petaluma chicken breast, California risotto with wild mushrooms, or vegetarian lasagna with spinach pasta and grilled Portobello mushrooms are among the menu choices. In good weather, you can dine al fresco overlooking Mudd’s gardens or take a walk through the gardens before or after your meal. 10 Boardwalk, San Ramon. 925-837-9387.
Undeniably one of the leader’s in the commitment to seasonal, sustainable cuisine, Chez Panisse is located in the heart of innovative Berkeley. Chez Panisse is two restaurants in one—a restaurant serving a set fixed-price menu and a café offering moderately priced à la carte options. Although menu choices vary based on the season, options include Hoffman Farm chicken breast with cannellini beans and wild fennel; crostata di Perrella with goat cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, garlic, and herbs; or pizza with wild nettles. 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. 510-548-5049 (café). 510-548-5525 (restaurant).
Exploring Other Options
Whether you’re seeking out top-notch gourmet cuisine, adventurous ethnic options, or just a simple, organic meal, the San Francisco bay area has more than enough choices to keep you busy eating and experimenting for quite some time. For other ideas and inspiration, check out The Organic Guide to San Francisco Guide and The Organic Guide to Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties, both published by Community Action Publications as well as Bay Area Naturally, published by the Natural Pages.
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