Sustainable Happy Hours

We love the idea of  supporting local restaurants that offer tasty sustainable cuisine and cheap happy hour deals. Here are our top picks:

CommonWealth Gastropub
It’s bloody cold out. Shake off the icicles and get yourself over to the happy hour (4-7) at CommonWealth which includes a selection of local beer, 1/2 price selections of wine, and 1/2 off grassfed burgers (Wednesdays) that are out of this world. For a complete rundown of what’s available, check out the review written by our friends over at Sustainable in the City.

Dino
A menu planned around weekly finds at the Dupont Farmer’s Market and meats and seafood from all natural and sustainable sources. Those are just a few reasons to love Dino in Cleveland Park. Want more? How about an amazing happy hour from 5:30-7 (Sunday-Fridays) featuring free antipasti and 25% off drinks. Oh, and bartender Scott is a master mixologist and will help you find the perfect glass to accompany your meal.

Poste Brasserie
We’ve written about Poste’s sustainable practices before. This time, we’re all about the deal. Next time you find yourself killing time before an event at the Verizon Center, stop by from 4 to 7 (Monday-Friday) and enjoy $5 glasses of red and white wine, $5 beer, and truffled frites for just $5.

Radius Pizza
This Mount Pleasant eatery was recently bought by former Poste Brasserie employees Todd and Nicole Wiss. Although they still serve pizza, the menu now focuses on local and organic ingredients and more upscale fare. Happy hour is 5-7 and on Wednesdays you get a free bottle of vino with the purchase of a large pizza and appetizer or two entrees and an appetizer.

Redwood
Tucked away in Bethesda Row, Redwood serves a seasonal menu that showcases the best mid-Atlantic ingredients. Meats, cheeses, produce, and seafood are naturally-raised, organic, or sustainable whenever possible and are sourced from local growers. A thoughtful wine list features some organic wines and small production vintners who practice sustainable viticulture. Belly up to the 75-seat white-marble bar and treat yourself to $4-$5 food and drink specials Monday – Friday from 4 to 7:00pm.

What did we miss? Feel free to post your favorite sustainable happy hour spots in the comments section.

Organic Salads and an Edible Wall

Here’s an easy new year’s resolution: Swap out your fast food lunch for something healthy and fresh, like an organic salad or sandwich from Mixt Greens. The company, founded in San Francisco in 2005, will be opening four new DC locations; the first will open on January 26th at 1200 19th Street, NW.

Mixt Greens join hometown faves Sweetgreen in offering tossed-to-order salads and sandwiches made with local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. “Our salads taste different because of the ingredients we source and the way we prepare everything from scratch,” says Andrew Swallow, Mixt Greens’ Chief Culinary Officer.

One seasonal salad that’s only available during the winter months is the aptly named “The Porky,” made with mixed greens, spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, roasted butternut squash, Applewood smoked bacon, sliced seasonal apple, and house-made Champagne vinaigrette topped with a port wine reduction drizzle and chopped pistachios.

You’ll also eat in earth-friendly surroundings thanks to Charlottesville-based William McDonough + Partners, which designed the modern, urban restaurants incorporating eco-conscious materials.  Each location also features an edible living wall of seasonally rotating herbs and vegetables. The wall highlights indoor urban agriculture, a low-energy, high-yield farming technique, showcasing that sustainable, fertilizer/pesticide-free, healthy food can be grown indoors in urban environments.

What else besides the food and building design makes Mixt Greens green? All of packaging used by the restaurants is 100% compostable and biodegradable, they purchase renewable energy credits through Renewable Choice, and they use only non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners from Method.

In addition to the restaurant at 1200 19th Street, three venues will open between February and April: 2010 at 1311 F Street, NW, 1700 K Street, NW and 927 15th Street, NW. Each location will be open Monday through Friday from 10:30 AM to 3 PM, and prices will range from $7.95 to $11.95 for salads and $8.95 for sandwiches, which are served with a side salad of greens.

Localize It

Back in the day, you had your “local”–the restaurant or bar right around the corner where you were a regular and everyone knew your name. The Daily Dish in Silver Spring is just such a place.

Housed in the same space as the former Red Dog Cafe, the Daily Dish combines comfort food (think addictive mac & cheese, fresh home-made bread, wood-oven fired pizza) with a commitment to using local ingredients.

“The Daily Dish reflects our passion for food,” says co-owner Zena Polin. “As a neighborhood restaurant, we really believe in serving delicious food made with quality ingredients. We like to serve comfort food with a twist — food that is seasonally inspired and locally sourced, whenever possible.”

Starters include baked local goat cheese with roasted tomato sauce and focaccia, homemade soups, and salads. For dinner, you can tuck into a tender brined organic roast chicken served with green beans and mashed sweet potatoes or salmon made to order and served with creamy polenta and vegetables.

Owners Polin and Jerry Hollinger bring many years of restaurant and catering experience to the venture and have tapped Chef Michael Chretien, formerly of Rock Creek Mazza restaurant, to head up the kitchen. The Daily Dish sources produce from local farmers and the Takoma Park Farmer’s Market, grains from the Silver Spring Co-Op, fair trade coffee from Silver Spring-based Clear Mountain Coffee, ice-cream from Moorenko’s, and sausages from Let’s Meat on the Avenue in Del Ray. They are also looking into getting meat and poultry from Polyface Farms.

The wine list, carefully selected by Polin for both affordability and quality, includes three organic wines (Torrontes, Malbec, and Tempranillo) from the Santa Julia vineyard in Argentina as well as several offerings from Charlottesville’s Kluge Estate.

On Sundays, don’t miss the “Make Your Own” Bloody Mary Bar, house-cured gravalax, or challah French toast. To kick the recession blues, try three-course $30 Thursdays or half-price wine Tuesdays. Who knows–with great food and deals like these, you, too, may become a regular.

The Daily Dish is located at 8301 A Grubb Road, 301.588.6300, and is open seven days a week.

Low-Impact Gift Ideas

This guest blog post was written by contributor Alison Drucker.

The greenest holiday gift of all is the one that doesn’t come in a box. Reduce the environmental impact of your holiday shopping this year with gifts that don’t require wasteful packaging, have not been shipped from China, and won’t add more clutter to your loved ones’ lives.

Try some of these non-material gift ideas – which can be experienced, consumed, and enjoyed with a lower environmental footprint.

For your significant other

Take your better half on a weekend getaway to a D.C. bed and breakfast. Also within a short drive or train ride into neighboring states are farms, wineries, ski areas, lakes, and other locations where romantic B&Bs abound. Look for environmentally-conscious lodging through the U.S. Green Building Council, ENERGY STAR, Virginia Green Lodging, or iStayGreen.

For a friend

Give your pal some tickets to a concert or sporting event – if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll be invited along. Check the schedules for local venues like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat, or get an open-ended gift certificate redeemable for any show at Wolf Trap. There are also still plenty of Caps and Wizards games left this season. If you don’t want to commit your friend to a specific date, an IOU always works. 

For your parents

Get Mom a gift certificate for a spa treatment, or treat the folks to a good meal out with a gift certificate to a local restaurant. For ideas, check out our list of local eco-friendly spas and restaurants, or search the LocalHarvest and Green Restaurant Association databases for establishments in other areas.

For the kids

Savings bonds have always been a common gift for kids, but Planting Empowerment puts a new twist on them with the Forest Savings Bond. $100 buys 5 ½ hardwood trees, which are planted on deforested tropical land to help restore it; when Planting Empowerment begins to sustainably harvest and sell the timber, your gift recipient will receive the returns from the investment. Or, adopt a species at the National Zoo – the donation supports animal care, medication, and equipment.

For your office Secret Santa

For a caffeine junkie, get a gift certificate to a local coffee shop like Java Green or a selection of organic teas from D.C.’s Teaism. An iTunes gift certificate can go a long way even if you only spend ten bucks; if you’re looking to spend a bit more, get an eMusic gift subscription of 60 song downloads for $30.

Totally stumped?

What do you get for the person who has everything? How about the absence of something – the greenhouse gas emissions from her holiday travels or a year of her life? You can buy carbon offsets from companies such as Native Energy, Terrapass, or Silver Spring-based Carbonfund. Your purchase supports renewable energy projects or methane capture and storage, helping to balance the environmental impacts of your gift recipient’s lifestyle.

DC Dirt with Chef Rob Weland

Photograph courtesy of Michael Harlan Turkell
Photograph courtesy of Michael Harlan Turkell

Poste Brasserie, part of the Kimpton Hotel family, is well-known for its environmentally sound practices and for its equally eco-minded star chef Rob Weland who has been at the helm since 2004.

Chef Weland is committed to using fresh, sustainable, and organic ingredients, some of which come from Poste’s own organic vegetable and herb garden.

In addition to overseeing the kitchen, he hosts the hugely popular market-to-market dinners and helped create the new farm-to-table ‘Poste Roasts.’

These farm-to-table dinners take place outside at the Chef’s table and feature spit-roasted meat sourced from local farmers and summer-inspired sides, all served family-style.

In this inaugural issue of DC Dirt, a new Q&A column with DC’s green movers and shakers, we sat down with Chef Weland who dishes on his favorite local green business, must-have organic staples, and more.

Favorite vegetable that you grow in the Poste Brasserie garden:

Heirloom tomatoes……But that’s considered a fruit….so garlic then!

Your cooking philosophy, in three words:

Simple, local, sustainable

Three ingredients you can’t live without:

Eggs, sea salt, good olive oil

Guilty pleasure:

Eggplant parmesan

Favorite local green business:

FRESHFARM Markets

Biggest eco sin:

Using too many paper towels at home,……according to my wife!

Organic “musts” for the home cook:

Shopping at their local market for eggs, dairy, and produce.

Your foodie heros:

Alice Waters, Larry Forgione, Marco Pierre White and Gray Kunz