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May 22, 2002 09:17 PM

In Need of Restaurants With Hormone-Free, Antibiotic-Free Meats

  • k

A friend of mine has recently decided to eat only hormone-free, antibiotic-free, vegetable-fed animals. (Niman ranch meats, for example, are fine).

She's having trouble finding places to eat meat that follow these standards. She lives in the East Bay so places in the Oakland/Berkeley area are preferable (especially places where entrees are under $10), but information on any restaurants in the Bay Area would be appreciated.

I only knew of Cafe de la Paz and Thai Dishes (just based on their Express ads). I know there's a lot more places around - I just never paid attention before.


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  1. k
    k. gerstenberger

    Chez Panisse and Oliveto feature meat, poultry, and fish which has been raised/harvested responsibly, often featuring the source name of the ranch on the menu. Picante recently was featuring Niman carnitas. Believe it or not, Chipolte (rumored division of McEvils) was advertising free range pork. Saul's serves a Niman burger at a resonable price and it's on an Acme bun. Cafe Rouge is also known for featuring responsible meat sources.

    Always ask if the menu doesn't indicate source. If the server stares a hole through you and seems annoyed smile at them. The more requests restaurants get for responsibly raised meats the better. Alot of the high price associated with this type of ranching has already started to moderate, but it is more expensive to produce so expect to pay more.

    The marketing spin on this topic is amazing. One New York Times magazine article can raise conciousness to a fever pitch. Check out the websites related to the slow food movement for some cool ideas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: k. gerstenberger

      I've always thought it would be a good idea for a "regular" restaurant that doesn't serve this type of meat to offer, for an additional charge, "responsible" meats. I think it would do two things, bring customers in who care about what type of meat they're are eating and educate those who really haven't given it much thought. I bet a lot of people would be willing to pay a little extra if they understood the difference.

      1. re: Abby

        It's not meat, but Ti Couz does offer a premium option for an organic version of their chopped salad. Interestingly, I never order it because the ingredients in the regular one are so good and suspect I'm not the only cheapskate.

        The problem with two-tiers of pricing is that organics shouldn't have to cost twice what regular beef/chicken/tomatoes cost. The price is tied to the scale of production. When there's enough demand for organic foods, the price comes way down so that the premium is perhaps 15%--a much easier choice.

    2. In terms of some lower-priced options,
      Cactus Taqueria uses Niman Ranch beef and pork, but when I've asked, not chicken of similar standards. Burger Joint in SF uses Niman Ranch beef and Rocky Range chicken, Yumma's on Irving in SF does lamb/beef shwarma with Niman and uses Rocky chicken.
      There's a place on Market in SF---is it called CafeCuvee? I'm blanking out---that serves a roasted organically-raised( a real step up) chicken that is quite acclaimed.
      Get in the habit of asking everytime you order if it's not clear by the menu or other signage. You might also try calling Niman Ranch and seeing if they have a list of restaurants that use their beef, lamb and pork.
      There is a recently published book I believe is called "SFBay Organically" or something, which may also have information on sustainably/more ethically raised meats as well as where to eat/get organic produce and products.

      1. PPQ, fabulous Vietnamese at on Irving at 20th Ave in SF (I think it's 20th, someone will doubtless correct me if i am wrong) claims to serve Niman Ranch beef, if I am recalling their signage correctly. worth a call or a look.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jill D
          Dave H in Noe

          PPQ does serve quality beef - and their Pho is in my opinion #1 ranked in the city - I drive all the way across town to have their brisket and rare steak Pho. I remember seeing them having Angus Beef, but not sure if it is Niman Ranch.

        2. Dona Tomas at 51st and Telegraph in Oakland states on their menu that "whenever possible we use local and organic meats, poultry and vegetables." Their beef and pork are almost always listed as Niman Ranch. In fact my first lengua tacos were savored at Dona Tomas, made with Niman Ranch beef tongue.

          1. I was just thinking....what about a sushi place?