These days it feels like almost every restaurant is clamoring to show off its eco-friendly credentials. This can make deciding which dining destinations are serious about sustainability, and which are simply paying lip service, a tricky task. Enter the Michelin Green Star.
In 2020, the coveted restaurant guide introduced a brand-new annual award recognizing eateries that are demonstrating the highest ethical and sustainable practices, while serving outstanding plates of food.
The Michelin Guide has awarded this inspiring new accolade to just 11 restaurants across the US. From foraging in hedgerows and woodlands to supporting local farmers and fishermen, these gourmet eateries have proved they’re at the top of their game when it comes to sustainability.
[See more: The Chefs Fighting to Make Fine Dining Sustainable]
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
It seems fitting to kick off our roundup of America’s Green Michelin Star restaurants with Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Situated within a refurbished barn in New York’s Pocantico Hills, the gourmet eatery is the epitome of farm-to-table dining, operating as a non-profit working farm while sourcing many of its ingredients from an array of independent local farmers and producers from the Hudson Valley.
As you would expect, Blue Hill at Stone Barns employs a strictly zero-waste philosophy, right down to the leftover scraps which are transformed into charcoal for grilling. In a sign of its dedication to inspiring real change within the industry, the restaurant also operates as an educational center championing sustainable food production.
Helmed by talented chef Dan Barber, the menu at Blue Hill is brimming with vegetables grown at the on-site organic kitchen garden. Expect innovative plates of food that pack a punch like the vibrant green gazpacho perfectly complemented with surf clam and raddichio and the seriously indulgent honey semifreddo dotted with splodges of heavenly strawberry compote. It’s little wonder the eatery scooped two Michelin stars (in addition to its Green Star), when the coveted restaurant guide expanded to include Westchester County in 2019.
The Inn at Little Washington
Next, we head to the first and only three Michelin star restaurant in the Washington DC region: The Inn at Little Washington. Located in a rural village in the foothills of the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains, the eatery took just three years to earn the Michelin Guide’s most prestigious accolade under chef Patrick O’Connell’s guiding hand. Sustainability is baked into every aspect of the restaurant from the energy-efficient kitchen equipment to the on-site beekeeper looking after the hives to provide fresh honey.
The dining room itself is seriously luxurious with stunning interiors from acclaimed London stage and set designer Joyce Evans. Think plush velvet chairs, an intricately patterned ceiling and ornate gilded mirrors. In other words, you’ll need to dress to impress.
When it comes to the food, you’re in for a serious treat. Five-time James Beard winner O’Connell has created a wonderful menu that draws on his classical French culinary roots while making the most of fresh, seasonal produce from neighboring farms and local artisans.
The vegetarian offering (dubbed the ‘Good Earth Menu’) is particularly noteworthy. Highlights include the playful filet of beet with creamed spinach, pillowy pomme soufflé and a decadent beurre rouge sauce, and the dreamy lemon-meringue tartlet scattered with toasted pistachios and served with a generous dollop of blackberry-citrus frozen yogurt.
Perched on a clifftop in California’s Mendocino County lies Harbor House. Boasting two Michelin stars in addition to its Green Star, expect incredible food with breathtaking sea views to match.
Executive chef Matthew Kammerer has taken inspiration from this stunning setting, filling his menu with foraged ingredients including seaweed, mushrooms and edible weeds. There’s also an on-site garden, which is blanketed in sea fog each night giving the plants and herbs a unique salinity and terroir-driven flavor.
Must-try dishes from the menu include the Maitake mushroom fried and infused with lace lichen atop freshly baked sourdough bread, smothered with cultured butter and delicate sea lettuce, and succulent black cod smoked over bay laurel with calhikari rice and pickles.
Dishes are expertly paired with Californian and French vintages from Harbor House’s extensive wine cellar, carefully selected to highlight the mineral and saline flavors of the food.
The French Laundry
A trip to Napa Valley is not complete without a visit to chef Thomas Keller’s legendary three Michelin star eatery, The French Laundry. Hailed by Antony Bourdain as the “best restaurant in the world, period” the intimate 17-table institution certainly does not disappoint.
Keller creates highly refined plates of food that effortlessly balance classic French cooking with modern techniques. Naturally, you can expect only the finest ingredients. Standout dishes from the ever-changing nine-course tasting menu include the iconic ‘Oysters and Pearls’ which features a sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Regiis Ova Caviar, and the butter poached Nova Scotia lobster with Nantes carrots, garden snow peas and sweet carrot butter.
Of course, the restaurant boasts impressive green credentials including a sprawling biodynamic garden and an innovative solar and battery system which provides energy efficient power for the entire property.
Staying in California we head to Sonoma County and the fine dining gem that is SingleThread. Located in the heart of downtown Healdsburg, the high-end eatery was awarded two Michelin stars in 2018, before securing a third the following year, and finally being crowned with a Green Star.
Head chef Kyle Connaughton honed his culinary skills in Japan, cooking at Michel Bras’ acclaimed Toya restaurant in Hokkaido. Expect elegant dishes that showcase Asian flavors while celebrating the seasonal bounty of Sonoma. Highlights include delicately smoked Ora king salmon topped with arctic char roe and myoga, and a buttermilk-thyme sherbet.
Much of the produce is homegrown at the SingleThread farm, located seven miles from the restaurant between the historic San Lorenzo Ranch and Russian River. Here, head farmer Katrina Connaughton (Kyle’s childhood sweetheart) cultivates an array of ingredients from honey and olive oil to fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Chez Panisse opened its doors over 50 years ago and quickly became a much-loved staple of the Bay Area food scene. Situated in an arts and crafts bungalow along Shuttack Avenue in Berkley, the moodily lit dining room only serves to draw diner’s attention to the gleaming open kitchen.
Here, a talented team of chefs create fresh, veg-heavy dishes that sing from the plate. There are no gimmicks here: this is tasty cooking that lets the ingredients speak for themselves.
The nightly fixed menu of four rotating courses includes dishes like grilled Sonoma County duck breast au poivre with pickled peaches, gingery greens and new potatoes, and Santa Cruz king salmon drizzled with a wild fennel beurre blanc.
For over four decades, the restaurant’s founder, Alice Waters, has been a champion of the ‘slow food movement’, advocating regenerative methods of growing and cultivating ingredients. Much of the produce at Chez Panisse comes from Bobby Cannard’s Green String Farm – a 140-acre organic farm in Petaluma.
The next restaurant on our list boasts three Michelin stars in addition to its green accolade. Located in San Francisco’s historic Jackson Square, Michael Tusk opened the acclaimed eatery in 2003 with his life, Lindsay.
Tusk cut his teeth at some of the Bay Area’s most exclusive kitchens (including Chez Panisse where he trained under Alice Waters) before venturing out on his own to set up Quince. Taking inspiration from his mentor’s passion for organic produce, the talented chef works closely with a nearby sustainable farm to source his ingredients and sends food scraps back to the farm to be used as compost for next season’s harvest.
While the ten-course tasting menu changes daily, expect modern plates of food that expertly blend Californian cuisine with the flavors of Italy. The Michelin Guide inspectors particularly enjoyed the tortellini filled with pork and tossed in a rich beurre blanc sauce, and a choice cut of venison coated with vegetable crumbs and served with an ultra-creamy pomme potato puree, quince and chesnut.
Atelier Crenn is the creative brainchild of acclaimed French chef Dominique Crenn. In 2018, the gourmet eatery became the seventh restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area to be awarded three Michelin stars, before adding a Green Star to its accolades in 2021.
Crenn sees cooking as a form of art and her restaurant as a workshop. Her dishes, which she describes as ‘poetic culinaria’, are thoughtfully designed to tell a story on the plate. The result is nothing short of spectacular. Highlights from the ever-changing tasting menu include Spiny lobster dotted with apple butter and a warm ginger-whey foam, and tender abalone with a smoked mussel sauce.
Seafood and vegetables are very much the stars of the show here. Crenn removed meat entirely from the menu in 2018 due to the environmental impact of meat production and hasn’t looked back since. Much of the produce comes from the chef’s four-acre farm just outside the city, but she also works with an array of local fishermen and farmers.
Across the courtyard from Atelier Crenn you’ll find Dominique Crenn’s latest venture – an elegant wine bar serving delicious dishes inspired by her French heritage. Chef Crenn’s light, airy brioche with cultured butter is simply unmissable, as is her addictive wild mushroom ravioli scattered with truffle and finished with a madeira glaze.
While Bar Crenn is a more casual dining affair than its three-star sister restaurant, it’s still very much a destination in its own right. Inspired by a 1930s Parisienne salon, complete with heavy velvet drapes, crystal chandeliers and sheepskin-topped bar stools, it’s a stylish setting to while away an evening. And, of course, the wine list is impeccable.
Like Atelier Crenn, the ultra-chic bar is a meat-free zone, and all produce is sourced at the sustainable farm or from carefully selected ethical suppliers.
Next we head to Osteria Mozza – a favorite haunt among Los Angeles’ Hollywood stars. The stylish Italian restaurant sits on the corner of Melrose Avenue and is very much a place to see and be seen.
Presided over by chef Nancy Silverton, the bustling eatery serves hearty dishes that are designed to be eaten and enjoyed. You won’t have to worry about microscopic portions here. Kick things off with a selection of antipasti before diving into a dreamy bowl of pasta. The linguine with Manila clams, pancetta and spicy Fresno chilies is a particular high point.
Perhaps most exciting of all is the gleaming white Carrara marble Mozzarella Bar at the heart of the restaurant, where chef Silverton creates an impressive selection of small plates, all of which feature fresh imported mozzarella as well as ricotta and creamy burrata.
Osteria Mozza is well deserving of its Green Michelin Star. The eatery minimizes waste wherever possible, prohibits delivery trucks from idling outside to cut greenhouse emissions and sources its ingredients from the only the best organic producers in LA.
Last but by no means least on our list of America’s Green Michelin Star restaurants is Chi Spacca. Also helmed by Nancy Silverton, the eatery is located just next door to Osteria Mozza and has a decidedly exclusive feel with just six candlelit tables.
If you’re a meat eater, this is the place for you. The charcuterie is one of the best in town, featuring everything you can think of from ‘nduja to porchetta. As for mains, choose from an incredible array of steaks, meaty pies and fresh zinging salads.
Naturally, the meat is only sourced from carefully selected farms and Silverton’s team employs the same sustainable ethos as at Osteria Mozza, avoiding chemicals and saving water and energy to bring down Chi Spacca’s carbon footprint.
[See more: The Chefs with the Most Michelin Starred Restaurants]