Green Highlights: A Planet-Friendly Palate

Dear Mr. Gold:

We are making our first trip in several years to L.A., and other commitments make long hours of culinary research problematic. Do you know of any source of reliable information on sustainability, especially for seafood? My palate takes second place to the planet, a not-always-popular perspective among food nuts, I realize. I’ve looked at numerous high-end menus on restaurants’ Web sites and found none that included much, if any, info on sources, organics, sustainability. I realize, of course, you may not share my priorities but hoped you might at least steer me in the right direction.

—Serena (Jutkovitz) Bardell, San Francisco


Dear Ms. Bardell:

There is no systematic list of sustainability-friendly restaurants, and even the places most committed to the cause occasionally put something as unsustainable as bluefin tuna on the menu — it’s sort of your responsibility to ask. That being said, many restaurants here get most of their produce at farmers markets or from the farmers themselves, and source their meat and fish in responsible ways. Providence, Mozza, Grace, Sona, Spago, Campanile, Akasha, Ford’s Filling Station, Anisette, Lucques, Water Grill, Jiraffe, Palate Food + Wine, Border Grill and Ciudad, among many others, are all pretty good about sourcing, although they do not tend to be cheap. The steak house Wilshire, the wine bar Rustic Canyon and the café Literati II are reliably organic and sustainable. Local Latino and Asian restaurants, where much of the best cooking in Los Angeles is to be found, often use some pretty good produce, but aside from La Casita Mexicana in Bell, whose chefs buy much of their produce from a mostly organic communal farm near Watts, not many of them tend to be particularly earth-conscious — you are probably not going to find Brandt beef, McGrath greens or Weiser spinach at a given Thai place in Hollywood, although the chef may well have grown the kaffir limes, the tiny eggplants and the turmeric himself.

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