3 of the most sustainable (and delicious) restaurants in Gainesville

The Top’s Friday night special was this flavorful chimmichuri tempeh dish. Pan-seared plantains and roasted sweet potatoes added depth and texture. Photo by Nealy Kehres 

Gainesville is often listed as one of the greenest cities in the US, and the University of Florida received an A on PETA’s vegan report card. These are definitely two of the reasons why I love living and going to school here.

The restaurant scene in my hometown of Melbourne is diverse and delectable, but after exploring Gainesville eateries, I realized how much more effort restaurants could put into being more sustainable. By that I mean taking measure to reduce their waste, offering many vegan or vegetarian options, and sourcing ingredients from local organic farms. Gainesville has a plethora of appetizing joints that do just that, but here are a few of my absolute favorites.

1. Daily Green

This humble restaurant downtown offers a casual, whimsical atmosphere and scrumptious locally sourced meals. From hearty sandwiches and savory waffle cones to fresh juices and nutritious salads, this place is the perfect place to go if you want food that is not only healthy and delicious, but sustainable too.

In addition to using only organic and local ingredients, this cozy cafe also does a great deal to reduce their waste. Next to a bin to put used compostable paper materials, they even have a bucket to put uneaten food to feed to the pigs at Siembra Farms.

I highly recommend the dried green tomato sandwich with a side of either triple lentil dahl soup or vegan mac and cheese. Wash it all down with a “daily brilliant” juice.

2. The Top

Along with their eclectic decorations and flavorful food, one of my favorite parts about The Top is that they have a space listing which farms and companies they get all of their ingredients. This kind of transparency is so rare but is certainly something to appreciate.

Also, the menu is huge, so I can bring my picky, meat-loving mother and my die-hard vegan friends because anyone who loves high-quality food can find something here they will enjoy.

Above is a picture of some spectacular chimichurri tempeh I ordered a couple weeks ago. It was a zesty vegan dish that I felt confident ordering because I knew from where all of the fresh ingredients were sourced.

3. Karma Kream

When you finish your meal at one of the preceding restaurants, head down to Karma Kream for coffee and dessert. In addition to offering many vegan ice creams and pastries, they also have vegan sandwiches and ice cream made from organic milk.

They will always give you your treat in a reusable plastic or glass dish, but if you want your food to-go, they serve only compostable paper products. My favorite is the midnight cowboy vegan cookie, which has dark chocolate chips and coconut. This spot is definitely one of the best for delicious vegan treats.




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