Surfrider Miami's Ocean-Friendly Restaurants

Azabu

Sushi at Azabu

Essensia

Essensia

Kiki on the River

Kiki on the River

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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

Love good food? Obsessed with our beautiful oceans and our marine life? Then it’s a win-win, when dining at certain Miami restaurants that are committed to saving our oceans and beaches.

Whether you live here or have simply visited Miami, you know there’s nothing like sinking your toes into our white sand beaches and floating in our calm, turquoise-hued waters. But, here and around the world, it’s become a daily struggle to keep everything like nature intended — with an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, pollution is sadly impacting our marine ecosystems and wildlife such as seabirds, dolphins, fish and turtles.

In 1997, Surfrider Miami was established as part of the national Surfrider Foundation, which was founded by a group of California surfers who noticed an increase in garbage floating in the waters where they surfed, and some were even sickened due to the water quality. Their quest to protect our oceans and keep our coasts clean has now become Surfrider Miami’s — the most active chapter in Florida — mission too.

Kiki on the River
Kiki on the River

Hungry for Change

Part of Surfrider’s mission is the Ocean Friendly Restaurants (OFR) program, where locally-loved restaurants can choose to commit to making sustainable choices for our ocean. So far, there are 625 active OFRs nationwide, with the 2020 goal of 850 restaurants. As part of Surfrider Miami’s “Rise Above Plastics” initiative, around 12 Miami restaurants (with new ones expected soon) have joined the mission to become more ocean friendly and reduce their plastic footprint. “The ultimate goal is to keep plastics out of the ocean, and often it’s the restaurants that are responsible for providing plastics and Styrofoam to customers,” says Tanja Morariu, a core member and marketing advisor for Surfrider Miami. “But it’s a two-way street for restaurants and customers. Something as simple as dining out, can make a big impact on our oceans. You have to be conscious of how you eat and what you eat. Only when people start using less plastic, will there be less plastic in our oceans.”

Participating OFR restaurants must follow five strict rules: never use Styrofoam or offer plastic for takeout or to-go orders; only use proper recycling practices and reusable tableware; and straws and disposable utensils are only offered upon request. In addition, they must comply with at least two of five other requirements that range from offering vegan and vegetarian dishes, serving sustainable seafood, and never selling beverages in plastic bottles. “We’re trying to educate people to refuse plastic,” says Morariu.

Lolo's Surf Cantina
Lolo's Surf Cantina

Dining That Makes a Difference

If you like beautiful beaches and clean water, here’s how you can do your part. You can find around 12 restaurants around Miami, a mixture of smaller restaurants and big names who’ve been on the dining scene for a long time, who are taking part in this important program. At Essensia Restaurant at The Palms Hotel & Spa, you’ll find sustainable seafood, plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes, and some ingredients like herbs and edible flowers coming from the on-property garden. At Palma Juice Co., a healthy take-away establishment, they use glass bottles, eco-friendly and reusable cutlery, and even plates made of coconuts. With its beachy-chic atmosphere and Baja-inspired Mexican cuisine, Lolo's Surf Cantina features reusable dine-in cutlery and plates, along with vegetarian dishes. Other OFR restaurants include sceney Kiki On The River, upscale Japanese favorite Azabu Miami Beach, longtime oceanfront hot spot and beach club Nikki Beach, Shula Burger, Beat Culture Brewery, Table 55, and Coral Reef Yacht Club. Some of the OFR participants like Essensia and Azabu, even participate in the annual Miami Spice, so you can try all your favorites while saving money.

“I think it has to be a movement,” says Morariu, “and more people have to come on board, so it becomes the new normal.” That way the new normal is clean beaches, healthy oceans and thriving marine life. Are you hungry for change?

Read More:

Miami Restaurants Bet On Better-For-You Menus
Miami’s Animal Conservation & Rescue Effort
Beautiful Green Eco-Friendly Hotels In Miami
Make Your Own Eco-Adventure With These Miami Outdoor Activities

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