Which Restaurants Are Truly Organic?

| October 18, 2012

certified organic restaurant foodIn order to legally sell products as organic, a farm, wild-crop harvester or handling operation must undergo certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. The same rule does not apply to restaurants, and while they can voluntarily become “Certified Organic,” few do because of the complexity of both keeping an organic kitchen and the certification process itself, which for restaurants still lacks standardization. Learn about a few of the restaurants in the country that are “Certified Organic” below and find healthy options using DexKnows restaurant listings.

Restaurant Nora

The Washington, D.C.-based Restaurant Nora was the first in the country to be “Certified Organic” back in 1999. Of the food served, 95 percent or more comes from certified organic growers and farmers as required by the USDANOP. The eclectic menu changes daily and features New American cuisine with ingredients such as grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, as well as hand-made goat cheese and the freshest, seasonal produce.

Ukiah Brewing Co. & Restaurant

In 2001, Ukiah Brewing Co. & Restaurant became the second in the country to become “Certified Organic.” It sits two hours north of San Francisco and serves both organic pub fare and beer, with plenty of vegetarian and even vegan options.


Award-winning chef Maria Hines runs the kitchen at the Seattle-based Tilth, deemed “Certified Organic” in 2005. She serves New American cuisine, and when she can’t find the organic products she needs, Hines makes them from scratch, including jam, marmalade, butter, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, cheese and pasta. The restaurant also serves 17 wines that are farmed organically, biodynmically or both.

If you don’t live near one of these “Certified Organic” restaurants, that doesn’t mean you can’t find organic fare. As mentioned, restaurants can serve organic food and label it as such on their menus without undergoing the certification process, they just can’t use the official “Certified Organic” seal. For example, the White Dog Café in Philadelphia and Wilshire in Santa Monica, Calif. both prepare dishes with local, organic ingredients but do not hold certification.

To start — or continue — your search for restaurants in your area that serve organic fare, use DexKnows restaurant listings, which offer the ability to search by “Natural Foods.” This will point you toward chefs who incorporate organic food and drink into their menus.

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Category: Food & Dining, What's in Your Food

About the Author ()

Pamela Mitchell spent more than 15 years at daily newspapers such as the Hartford Courant and Houston Chronicle before becoming a full-time freelancer. She now writes about a variety of topics, from dining and entertainment to pets and travel.