"It is the restaurant that brought vegetarian cuisine out from sprout-infested health food stores and established it as a cuisine in America." - The New York Times, 2007
The opening of Greens Restaurant on San Francisco Bay in 1979 forever changed the image and appreciation of vegetarian cooking in America. Known for a distinctive culinary style of celebrating vegetables, Greens produces ever-changing menus that are dedicated to the seasonal harvests of local farmers and the organic gardens of its farm, Green Gulch.
With a panorama view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and the Marina sea life, Greens Restaurant is a lively scene in a spacious warehouse where grand windows stretch floor-to-ceiling in the dining room. The restaurant, and private dining room, is adorned by colorful skies and the majestic changing scenes and sunset of the Pacific Ocean.
Originally opened as a part of the San Francisco Zen Center and inspired by the food and service offered at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery, the restaurant provided an opportunity for Zen students to extend their Buddhist practice into a workplace setting. For many years the only employees at Greens were Zen students. In the corner of the kitchen, on a spice shelf, sits a small altar to Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion, where it has remained lit since opening day.
A Legacy of Women Chefs
Founding chef of Greens, Deborah Madison, a Zen student of eighteen years, and now one of America’s leading authorities on vegetables, opened Greens Restaurant with a commitment to ensure that every guest in the dining room would not miss eating meat. She creatively introduced unknown, at the time, varieties of vegetables on the menu: fingerling potatoes, golden beets, and even arugula.
After working in the kitchen as the head cook at Tassajara, Annie Somerville headed to Greens in 1981, trained with Madison, and became the Executive Chef three years later. During her early days at Greens, students would meditate and receive their daily work assignments at the altar. Revered for her relationships with organic farmers and local purveyors, and her commitment to sustainable practices, Somerville was at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement and an advocate for the local farmers markets. Under her guidance, Greens Restaurant became a culinary landmark and one of the most celebrated restaurants in the world.
Denise St. Onge was hired as Chef de Cuisine in 2018 and later promoted to Executive Chef, leading the kitchen through its 40th Anniversary. Upon her departure in 2020, Katie Reicher, who joined Greens in 2015, is now the Chef de Cuisine and leads the kitchen following the daily practices of her mentors.
Bay Area Heritage & Sustainable Design
Constructed by master craftsman Paul Discoe of Joinery Structures and San Francisco Zen Center Carpenters, Greens is a work of art.
The restaurant incorporates twelve varieties of wood, from the massive black walnut entry doors, the hickory stairs, and the curved bar featuring Port-Orford cedar, to the dining tables of maple, walnut, and cherry wood. All construction was performed using Japanese joinery technique, without nails.
Many of the paintings lining the walls of the dining room are by renowned Bay Area artist Willard Dixon and Buddhist teacher Mayumi Oda, while a magnificent redwood sculpture by Inverness artist J.B. Blunk acts as a stunning centerpiece.