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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Life + Arts

Taste not sacrificed at Green restaurant

Ruggles Green isn’t what you would typically expect from an organic, all-natural restaurant.

Most will likely conjure images of meager arugula salads or the gratuitous use of tofu, but Ruggles Green happily defies those expectations. The restaurant is not exclusively vegetarian, but they do serve hormone-free meats. They’re not afraid of fried food, either; they just recycle their fryer oil into biofuel.’

As the first Houston restaurant to be green-certified by the Green Restaurant Association, Ruggles Green assuredly knows that it’s chic to label oneself as ‘green,’ but their sustainable practices back it up. Aside from the organic, preservative and hormone-free foods served, Ruggles Green lights the eatery with energy-efficient bulbs, uses booths built out of bamboo and recycles or composts all of their waste.

Ruggles Green offers substantial, delicious meals that anyone can enjoy, but they do it in an environmentally responsible way that’s unprecedented for Houston. The results are delicious, caf’eacute;-style sandwiches, pastas and pizzas.

The pizzas are easy standouts. The Ruggles Classic Pepperoni is an appetizing twist on an old standby, combining roasted garlic, wild mushrooms and basil picked from Ruggles’ own herb garden, and proves that wood-fired pizzas are always welcome when cooked properly. The Organic Vegetable Pizza, mixing roasted vegetables with a feta cheese and pesto base, arrives at the table bursting with flavor.

Hemp is an environmentally efficient, multi-use fiber, and Ruggles Green embraces the ingredient wholeheartedly in several of their dishes. Dubbed the ‘hempenadas,’ one dish takes the traditional empanada recipe and adds high-protein hemp flour and hemp seeds, and delicately fries it into something magical. The hemp brownie, guaranteed to loosen the belt a couple of notches, is a perfect cap to the night.

Located near the corner of Kirby and West Alabama, Ruggles Green is a reasonable drive from campus and has similarly reasonable prices for students. Meals hover around $10 and rarely exceed it by more than a few dollars.

The comfortable atmosphere makes staying for just one more glass of wine tempting, often to where entire evenings are spent enjoying the company of friends and those serving the food. The service is also phenomenal; on one occasion, a Ruggles employee – dressed in an organic T-shirt made from hemp – walked around the patio offering complementary cotton candy.

On-campus and off, it’s hard to find restaurants sensitive to dietary needs, or at least one that doesn’t give away such monstrous Styrofoam cups with every order. The eco-guilt is difficult to shake. But thanks in part to restaurants such as Ruggles Green, organic and all-natural are no longer synonymous with tree-huggers or veggie burgers.

Ruggles Green is not what you expect, and that’s a great thing. If there’s one complaint, it’s that a restaurant like Ruggles Green didn’t open sooner.

Ruggles Green
Where: 2311 W Alabama St
Houston, TX 77098
Verdict: Organic restaurant exceeds expectations in every way.

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