High nutrient, low impact: A guide to sustainable dining
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The most sustainable restaurants across Canada

High nutrient, low impact: A guide to sustainable dining

Words— Kaitlyn McInnis

With the undeniable climate crisis on everyone’s minds, it has become more important than ever to opt for sustainability and eco-friendly dining options as much as possible. Food and water waste, excess packaging, and chemical use happens behind closed doors and take a serious toll on the earth every time we dine. Lucky for us though, Canada is ripe with green restaurants from Coast to Coast.


"Choosing to dine with a restaurant that cares about their environmental impact is helping create change in the foodservice industry and moving Canada towards a greener future,” said Janine Windsor, LEAF President and Founder in a statement.  LEAF, a Calgary-based not-for-profit has been working with the restaurant industry since 2009 when Windsor recognized a need to help the Canadian foodservice industry reduce their environmental footprint.


Their annual Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants helps hungry Canadian foodies make smart and responsible decisions when it comes to dining out. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the top green restaurants in the country. 




Locals Restaurant, Comox, BC


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Nestled into the Comox Valley just outside of Vancouver Island, Locals Restaurants aims to celebrate the uniqueness of the West Coast and its commitment to the environment by way of local ingredients, environmentally sustainable dining and operating methods like high efficiency kitchen equipment and recycled table linens, and really placing value on each supplier and farmer as an individual rather than a business transaction. In terms of leftover food, nothing goes to waste. The owners and kitchen staff bring any excess food or patron leftovers home to feed their pets. The atmosphere also exudes a certain sustainable, eco-friendly feel: guests can expect exposed wood beams, a cozy fireplace, and modest decor.




River Cafe, Calgary, AB


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At River Cafe in Calgary, respect for indigenous and local ingredients reigns supreme. The upscale restaurant on Prince’s Island doesn’t skimp on luxury—but they do it in an environmentally responsible way. With a strong focus on seasonally sourced local meat and seafood, River Cafe works with growers, producers, and ranchers to foster a community feel while ensuring their meats and veggies are as fresh and local as possible. The rustic feel of the dining space is mirrored back through the dishes, many of which feel distinctly Canadian—think everything from oysters and line-caught halibut to bison tartare and duck ham.




The Coup, Calgary, AB



Vegetarians will particularly love this Calgary-based hot spot. The contemporary restaurant boasts creative takes on ethical and environmentally friendly vegetarian fare like tempeh shawarma, vegan charcuterie, and watermelon pizza (yes, really). More than just an ethics-based vegetarian spot, The Coup places major emphasis on the ecological ethics, which translates into organic, local, and made from scratch. The restaurant also ensures all paper products are post-consumer recycled, that their receipt paper is BPA free, and in order to off-set waste and get closer to carbon neutrality, the restaurant plants 36 trees a month, has its own compost garden, and runs on 100% wind power.




Degrees Restaurant, Winnipeg, MB



Not a fancy restaurant or fine dining of any sort, Degrees Restaurant is crafted for the campus community at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Provided by The University of Manitoba Student Union, this easy-going restaurant, while open to the public, has a distinct university feel. Expect easygoing fairs like Caesar salad, sandwiches, and hummus and veggies—all made completely from scratch using local, organic products.




Cafe Belong, Toronto, ON


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Cafe Belong in Toronto pride themselves on not only just being sustainable, but also supporting likeminded people in the food business do the same. The restaurant strives to create a connection between local and indigenous food from the land, the farmers they work with and the patrons who order and enjoy it—they call it the "circle of sustainability" which is meant to evoke a sense of belonging to the environment rather than just looking out for and protecting it. The airy cafe and restaurant feels more like stepping into a friend’s cottage than a big city restaurant and offers everything from salads and cheese boards to duck confit and daily line-caught fish.




Chic Alors!, Quebec City, QC


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In the mood for pizza? Head to Chic Alors! in Quebec City. The gourmet pizzeria is well-loved by locals and visitors alike for its internationally award-winning pizza and extensive wine list. If that’s not enough, the restaurant has made it their mission to become trailblazers in restaurant property sustainability through their extensive ecological efforts which include Prel-Therm windows that heat the dining room, a locally made geothermal system that takes natural heat from the kitchen and recycles it into the rest of the restaurant, and more.


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