Blackbird

There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint while traveling, but it's harder when you don't know which businesses are doing the same. Luckily, visitors need not fret when they dine because Chicago has many eco-friendly restaurants.  I'll highlight some of my favorite green restaurants and what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and create a better tomorrow.

Uncommon Ground (3800 N. Clark St.)

This hip little spot was the Greenest Restaurant in American in 2011 and has truly raised the bar for environmentally friendly establishments. With two convenient locations (one in Lakeview, one in Edgewater), and a collection of creative and exciting recipes, specialty drinks, and live music, Uncommon Ground is a must visit for a relaxing night. The restaurant's water is heated by solar panels on the roof, all of the wood products are from fallen trees in Jackson Park, and both locations feature rooftop gardens.

Hamburger Mary's (5400N. Clark St.)

This Andersonville establishment is ALWAYS hopping. Between the downstairs restaurant and the upstairs bar and stage, there is always a fun activity happening at Mary's, with charity bingo and karaoke to name a few. The spot is also a microbrewery, as well as a guaranteed green restaurant. Mary only serves certified HUMANE meats, uses recycled materials for carry out packaging, and has converted all lighting to CFL and LED bulbs.

Blackbird (619 W. Randolph St.)

Blackbird

This trendy spot in the restaurant district offers an award-winning menu by an award-winning chef. Creative creations featuring seafood paired with exotic vegetables make this restaurant the perfect spot for foodies and their friends. It's also a certified Green Restaurant, so it's a place for foodies with a conscience.

Simone's (960 W. 18th St.)

This outstanding bar/restaurant in Pilsen features great food, drinks, and a friendly atmosphere. With a patio and a killer beer list, Simone's will be on your summer must list. They also feature live music, both from local artists and national acts. Solar panels on the roof and an interior décor made from recycled materials makes this a green must-see.

XOCO (449 N. Clark St.)

Rick Bayless is a Chicago chef that has achieved national fame. XOCO offers his trademark style in a fun, laid-back setting. With extended hours and outstanding Mexican-inspired dishes, XOCO is guaranteed to be a highlight of your foodie Chicago experience. XOCO has a massive rooftop garden and uses 40% less water than a standard restaurant of comparable size, making it a great green establishment.

For a more complete list of Chicago's "Guaranteed Green" restaurants, click here.

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