The Best Takeout Dishes from Sustainable Restaurants in Chicago

Celebrate Earth Month by ordering from one of these must-try restaurants.

Earth Day is April 22, and while we’re all for celebrating the cause in any number of ways, from going car-free to building some epic animal feeders, we’re particularly excited about one activity: eating. That is, of course, if the restaurants in question are doing their part to help keep our globe a little greener—and we’re happy to report that, throughout Chicagoland, so many of them are.

From a Fulton Market mainstay known for its whole-animal butchery to America’s first organic rooftop farm and all of its prized produce, here are some of our favorite Chicago spots known for environmentally friendly fare and philosophies. 

The Lobster Empanadas at Azul Mariscos

Goose Island
Vibrant, nautical color schemes and energetic vibes welcome guests to this restaurant, situated along the Chicago River. Chef Michael Hernandez puts forth Latin-inspired fare with a focus on seafood, as evidenced by options like spicy lime-cured shrimp, mini lobster rolls, and grilled octopus basted in house butter. Spring for one of the kitchen’s specialties with the Lobster Empanadas, airy pockets filled with lobster claw and tail meat, Chihuahua cheese, and chipotle aioli. When you order takeout, you can feel good about it. The restaurant strives to work with sustainable partners and purveyors as often as possible, and it exclusively uses paper bags for all carryout and delivery orders (meaning all you have to do is make that recycling bin, post-meal toss).
How to try it: Order via Grubhub  

Formento's
Formento's

The Tiramisu Parfait at Formento's

West Loop
At this modern Italian restaurant, Chef David Schwartz serves a menu inspired by old-school red sauce classics, from house-made pastas and seasonal vegetables to wood-fired steaks and chops. Then, there’s dessert. A fan of foraging, canning, and preserving, Pastry Chef Sarah Howlett is big on getting the most out of every ingredient that enters her station—and passionate about keeping things local (to the point of avoiding exotic fruits or ingredients that require extreme mileage to ship). We recommend ordering the oatmeal cookie or chocolate cake; or keep things Italian with the Tiramisu Parfait, a towering and decadent finale of mascarpone, coffee, and cocoa.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

The Porchetta Sandwich at Publican Quality Meats

Fulton Market
The team from some of the city’s most acclaimed venues (Publican, Big Star, Violet Hour) is behind this butcher shop, café, bakery, and gourmet market, situated (aptly) in Chicago’s meatpacking district. Head Butcher and Chef Rob Levitt helms the culinary program, for which sustainability plays a key role. In addition to butchering whole animals (and making stock, sausages, or pates from any leftover product), the team maintains strong relationships with local farmers, buying hard-to-sell cuts and ensuring they’re honored within their meat case. Celebrate those practices by ordering from a variety of house-made items, such as the Smoked Turkey Sandwich or Croque Madame with PQM ham, or the Porchetta Sandwich with house porchetta, marinated fennel, and herb aioli on focaccia from sister bakery Publican Quality Bread.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

Takito Kitchen
Takito Kitchen

The Crispy Fish Tacos at Takito Kitchen

Wicker Park
This lively taqueria features Mexican-inspired cuisine made from carefully sourced, always fresh ingredients. Case in point with the Grilled Pineapple Guacamole, Skirt Steak Fajitas, and the 3 Sisters Polenta, with Wisconsin cheddar cheese and pickled chilis. Those seeking something at once familiar and dynamic in flavor can opt for the Crispy Fish Tacos, made with hibiscus tortillas, coconut custard, basil, and toasted coconut. Pair them with the restaurant’s award-winning margarita cocktail kit, but don’t expect any straws—the restaurant did away with them in an effort to reduce plastic waste.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

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The Mighty Vine Tomato Zucchini Lasagna at Althea

Gold Coast
A surefire way to eat sustainably? Keep things plant-based. An easy feat at Althea, Chef Matthew Kenney’s Mag Mile eatery offers a globally inspired menu of organic and thoughtfully sourced dishes. Case in point with the Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe or al pastor tacos (created with avocado puree and made “meaty” with maitake and oyster mushrooms). Then, there’s the Mighty Vine Tomato Zucchini Lasagna, a prime example of the team’s reliance on local purveyors like Mighty Vine and Closed Loop Farms. Its eco-friendly finesse continues: Cocktails are served with bamboo straws and skewers to eliminate single-use plastics, compostable packaging is used for carryout, and the team repurposes surplus food by serving the staff meals every day—taking care of the environment and one another alike.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

The Double Epic at Epic Burger

Multiple locations
This local food chain was one of the first fast-casual restaurants to offer non-GMO ingredients, Halal-certified preparations, and extensive vegetarian options, and, today, continues in its mission of serving simple and real ingredients throughout its eight Chicagoland locations. It serves its meals in compostable or recyclable packaging when possible—and with a menu like Epic Burger’s, that’s a good thing (chances are, you’ll be ordering from it a lot). Peruse a selection of nearly a dozen different burgers, but do yourself a favor by landing on the Double Epic, with two premium black Angus beef patties, cheddar cheese, grilled onion, and epic sauce, served on a buttery brioche bun.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

The Southern Grits at Everybody’s Coffee

Uptown
Relationships are the driving force behind this Uptown coffee haven, which partnered with Cornerstone Community Outreach in its mission to feed and shelter those experiencing homelessness in Chicago. Everybody’s Coffee is also serious about sustainability, roasting and selling only fair and direct trade coffee and carefully choosing its growers to ensure that the source product is equally beneficial for the farmer, land, and community. Aid those efforts with its hourly brewed selection, plus some sustenance from the kitchen—freshly baked blueberry muffins or buttermilk biscuits are easy crowd-pleasers, but for something savory, make it the Southern Grits Bowl, a hearty breakfast topped with sausage links, salsa verde, and a soft egg.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

Uncommon Ground Lakeview
Uncommon Ground Lakeview

The Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf at Uncommon Ground

Multiple locations
Home to the first certified organic brewery in Illinois and the first certified organic rooftop farm nationwide, it’s safe to say that this Chicago dining and drinking establishment places an emphasis on sustainability. Enjoy any one of its starters, from roasted cauliflower to the Superfood Caesar Salad (with chopped broccoli, avocado, and kale). Then, delve into larger mains, especially the Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, beer-battered crispy onions, bordelaise sauce, and arugula salad.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub

The Seoul Bowl at Fairgrounds Cafe

Multiple locations
When owner Michael Schultz opened Fairgrounds in Chicago, he had a simple goal: To offer patrons the same kind of selection in coffee that he had been seeing in the world of beer. And not just any coffee, but beans from sustainable, fair-trade growers across the globe. The model has proven so successful that the team now has more than a dozen locations across four states, with more than half of those throughout Chicagoland. Choose from a wide range of morning and midday fixes, from Nutella-banana toast to veggie rice bowls. Stemming from the latter, make it the Seoul Bowl, an energizing kickstarter of kale, brown rice, zucchini, Sriracha, and a cage-free fried egg.
How to try it: Order via Grubhub 

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.