Local restaurants offer sustainable options

Pittsburgh eateries focus on ethics and giving back to the community

Yuzu Kitchen on Wood Street is an East Asian ramen and robata grill that operates completely sustainably.

Written By Kimberly Prokurat, For The Globe

Pittsburgh restaurants are making sustainable business easy and delicious by integrating economic, environmental and employee equity practices into each meal.

“We believe in what we’re doing here,” said Edward Lai, owner and chef of Bae Bae’s Kitchen located in the Cultural District as he discussed his sustainability practices.

The eclectic dining-out options available around the city are not uncommon knowledge, but knowing where to get an amazing meal that also contributes to a better Pittsburgh is slightly harder to find. These sustainable restaurants and cafés are located all around the city with multiple options just blocks away from campus.

Some restaurants are making the move to become officially designated through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program by Sustainable Pittsburgh.

One of those restaurants is the Korean-inspired gourmet comfort food hub that is Bae Bae’s kitchen. Having recently opened on October 9, 2017, this café is fairly new but already creating a positive stamp on the downtown culture.

Bae Bae’s Kitchen is a hip café decorated with beautiful succulents that help improve the air quality, energy efficient lights and equipment and a large window that lets in an abundance of natural light. The menu is seasonal so that the locally sourced and organically grown food used is as nutritious as possible. This all natural approach offers a difference you can taste.

Yet the Korean inspired food and comforting environment is far from the best of its features. At this café, they recycle as much as possible – even with their water. They donate extra food to 412 Food Rescue and donate all of their tips to the local animal shelter and the international Humane Society.

“It is sad to say, but in South Korea it is still a part of their culture to eat dogs and cats,” Lai said. “That’s something we donate money to help curb and promote saving the lives of animals.”   

Another great downtown option is Yuzu Kitchen, an East Asian ramen and robata grill, located conveniently on Wood Street.

At Yuzu Kitchen, students and staff of Point Park can enjoy a 10 percent discount on consciously crafted food and drinks guilt free.

Yuzu Kitchen is designated as sustainable because it keeps track of water usage, gets the highest quality ingredients from Japanese distributors and local farmers, never uses MSG products, recycles and is efficient with food waste.

“We share sauces, fruits and vinegars between the bar and kitchen and we also pickle unused foods to make things like kimchi,” said Kai Guo, Executive Chef and Co-founder of Yuzu Kitchen.

Yuzu also makes an effort to partner with local businesses and fundraisers to promote growth and community in Pittsburgh.

Just recently, Yuzu Kitchen worked with the charity One Day to Remember which helps children in Pittsburgh spend one dream day with their parent whom suffers from a life-limiting illness.  For this event they set up a custom menu and cocktail for the guests of the event.

“The last one we did was in September for a child of a parent with cancer and all of the proceeds from our menu went to the charity,” Guo said.

If Asian inspired foods are not your cup of tea, there are certainly other great sustainable restaurant options in downtown. Restaurants like Corner Mercantile, located in the energy-efficient PNC Plaza Tower, Shab’s Grill for a Mediterranean meal or V3 if you’re in the mood for a fast-casual pizza shop.

These restaurants are among some of the sustainability pioneers making a great difference in the downtown Pittsburgh food arena. While taste is obviously first when it comes to food, taking a more conscious approach may make your next meal taste a little better.

Next time you’re seeking out a meal, find yourself at one of the most sustainable restaurants in downtown; the Earth, your morals and your stomach will thank you.