Six weeks ago, Chaco Canyon Cafe, the mostly organic, partially raw-foods, all-vegetarian restaurant in the U District, went whole hog and got USDA organic certification. That makes it one of only a handful of certified restaurants in the country. Like Tilth Restaurant, Maria Hines' Wallingford bistro, Chaco Canyon applied through Oregon Tilth, one of 55 certifying agencies in the United States and certainly the most prominent in the Northwest. The certification means that the restaurant had to undergo a rigorous reporting and inspection process and that it must use 95 percent organic products, with some leeway allowed for wildcrafted and foraged ingredients.
Meanwhile, BOKA Kitchen + Bar, located in the Hotel 1000 on First Ave. downtown, was considering organic certification but has decided not to go through with the full process. "We're already 85 to 90 percent organic, which is unusual for a hotel restaurant," press rep Kirsten Ball says. "That means that all banquets and room service have to be organic, too." Chef Angie Roberts sources all her produce and dairy from organic producers (or local producers that farm according to organic principals but haven't filed the paperwork). The meats she uses are all "natural" or grass-fed, she says, while dry goods are all over the spectrum. (Truthfully, that doesn't sound like 85 percent, but it's pretty damn impressive, especially for a hotel restaurant.) Meat, she says, was the sticking point -- an issue that Chaco Canyon clearly doesn't have to deal with.