Best Eco-Eateries: South Beach

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - foo is VERY important to me. I worked as a chef and restaurant publicist for a number of years. Spending time listening to some of the country’s best chefs talk about their passion, how dedicated they are to sourcing the best ingredients, and getting into the weeds about how a great meal gets from the farm to your plate makes you think about dining out in a whole new light. It also inevitably makes you a food snob. When I travel, I seek out spots where the joy I experience from tasting their menu is a direct reflection of the joy the chef and his/her team put into creating it.

Adding to my snobbery today is the requirement that any restaurant at which I spend my money must also uphold certain environmental responsibilities. Luckily, on a recent trip to South Beach - a community, I learned, is deeply devoted to preserving the beautiful environment it benefits from - there was no shortage such eateries. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Essensia Restaurant (at The Palms Hotel & Spa) - Chef Ilde Ferrer curates a seasonally rotating menu, spotlighting many ingredients sourced from the restaurant and hotel’s on-site organic garden (pictured), run in collaboration with Miami’s Little River Cooperative. The restaurant is focused on premium, local and sustainable ingredients - like the line-caught tuna for the poke my friend and I enjoyed - and is a proud recipient of the Slow Foods Snail of Approval (they even hosted the 8th Annual Snail of Approval Tasting Party in March).

  • Soul Tavern - If you’ve been considering a plant-based diet, but are unsure you could still enjoy all your favorites, let Soul Tavern prove you wrong. The upscale restaurant was named Food Network’s Best Plant Based Restaurant in Florida, and for good reason. Founded by Chinese medicine doctor Jason Gordon, the menu features vegan versions of comfort food favorites like burgers, pizza and sushi. And to wash it all down? Try one of their large selection of sustainable wines. Plant-based never looked or tasted better.

  • Lilikoi Organic Living - For those familiar with Cafe Gratitude in San Diego/LA, the vibe at Lilikoi is very similar, only with meat on the menu. Don’t worry, all seafood is sustainably sourced and terrestrially-derived meat is hormone-free and humanely raised. This casual spot is perfect for healthy and delicious meals to fuel your day of exploration - or bring your re-usable cup for an on-the-go juice packed with a plethora of plant-based superfoods.