The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Every State
Alabama: Acre in Auburn
Located an hour east of Montgomery in the historic downtown district of Auburn, Acre in Auburn is known for pairing bold modern flavors and deep Southern roots with a reliable eco-conscience. When Chef David Bancroft’s not in the kitchen or in the on-site vegetable garden, he’s working with local ranchers, farmers, and Gulf Coast fishermen, shaping his seasonally driven menu around ingredients sourced from the Blackbelt Region.
Alaska: Snow City Café
You don’t have to be a fish and game enthusiast to slip into a local’s way of life in Alaska’s biggest city. Just make a reservation at Snow City Café, where residents like Maya Evoy of Alaska from Scratch and out-of-towners like President Obama are fond of visiting for a delicious sustainably minded meal that’s always made from scratch. Order the salmon and crab eggs Benedict or the stuffed French toast, two of the reasons the restaurant is widely considered to be the most popular brunch spot in Anchorage.
Charleen Badman’s leeks with mozzarella once inspired their own twitter hashtag (#leekapalooza). The rest of the menu at FnB, which changes seasonally, is hashtag-worthy as well. And to keep everything extra local, the restaurant also has all-Arizona section of the wine list that’s more than 35 bottles long.
Arkansas: Trio’s Restaurant
Alan Leveritt grows strawberries and raises grass-fed lambs when he’s not busy working as publisher of the Arkansas Times. Among his many buyers is Trio’s Restaurant, where founder and chef Capi Peck’s strawberry shortcake and commitment to locally grown produce is well known in Little Rock and throughout the Land of Opportunity.
California: Liholiho Yacht Club
The drought has made Californians extra sensitive to climate change, causing daily decisions like where to eat out—and whether or not to ask for water—to be taken far more seriously than ever before. While the state is full of innovative, sustainably minded restaurants, from Solbar in Napa Valley to Chi Chi in Palm Springs, the place to get blow-your-mind-good food with an eco twist is in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill. At Liholiho Yacht Club, whether it’s the tuna poke, the marinated squid and crispy tripe, or the beef tongue with kimchi and cucumber on a poppy seed steam bun, Oahu-born chef/owner Ravi Kapur invites regulars, like Outstanding in the Field’s Jim Denevan, to discover the different magical flavor profiles of his Hawaiian, Indian, and Chinese heritage while staying true to a locavore mentality. “We only work with purveyors who understand that for their personal sustainability and well-being, they have to be on board with eco practices or they themselves will be extinct,” said Chef Kapur, who shops religiously at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
Colorado: The Kitchen
“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I've noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.
Connecticut: Back 40 Kitchen
“Back 40 Kitchen is the epitome of what farm-to-table is all about,” said OmNomCT’s Dan and Kristien Del Ferraro of one of their favorite restaurants. In addition to working with local purveyors, this Greenwich spot sources ingredients for its modern American menu and cocktail program from its own nearby 75-acre farm. Executive Chef George DeMarsico doesn’t pander to his informed clientele with farm-this-and-farm-that verbosity as items like heirloom popcorn, grilled milk-fed veal loin, and roasted king oyster mushrooms get the message across just fine with freshness and flavor.
Recently announced as a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic region, chef/owner Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.) is a local celebrity on the Delaware Coast despite being somewhat of an anomaly in a state where farm-to-table is greeted with an eye roll. “Our McDonalds and Burger King works with local farmers to get tomatoes and lettuce, so everything seems to be farm-to-table and there’s no big year round community in rural Delaware dedicated to sustainability,” said Bob Yesbek of rehobothfoodie.com. “Chef Cameron changes the menu from day to day depending on what his fishmonger or forager brings in, be it mushrooms or berries. Cameron puts effort into finding the best fresh ingredients and only buys from places that work hard for sustainability,” said Yesbek. To get the full scope of Chef Cameron’s unusual modernist progressive cooking style, try the 11-course tasting menu, featuring plates like housemade burrata with shattered heirloom tomato and gooseberry; foie gras mousse with heirloom melon, country ham, white balsamic, and caramelized onion fluid gel; and lavender honey ice cream with lavender ganache and honey marshmallow.
“Miami is pretty far behind the curve when it comes to the environmental trend, which is ironic because we will probably be the first one affected by the rising tides,” said Eater Miami Editor Olee Fowler. But in a sea of tan climate-change deniers is LoKal, one of Fowler’s favorite spots for a juicy grass-fed burger and feel-good food. Among the Coconut Grove restaurant’s many eco initiatives is its rooftop garden, compost program, and up-cycled boho décor; LoKal is also the first 100 percent clean, renewably powered restaurant in Miami.
Georgia: One Eared Stag
When locals like Grant Goggans of Marie, Let’s Eat! want an under-the-radar culinary adventure, they head a few minutes from downtown Atlanta to Inman Park, a charming neighborhood that's home to tree-lined streets, Victorian homes, and One Eared Stag. Though this restaurant’s not really a secret to Peach State residents, it succeeds in keeping that hidden gem aura, and has menu items like heritage pork chop and bone marrow with toast, roe, radishes, and goat cheese. Chef Robert Phalen is widely lauded for working exclusively with organic, sustainable farms and fisheries, but it’s his cook-it-and-they-will-come ethos toward inventive, daily-changing dishes that will stand the test of time—that, along with the house-made elixirs and mounted animal heads.
Hawaii: ‘ULU Ocean Grill
Though Hawaii imports roughly 90 percent of its food, a growing number of restaurants are shedding light on the bright farm-to-table future of the Aloha State. Catherine Toth Fox, Honolulu Magazine’s Food & Dining Editor, points to Mud Hen Water and O’o Farms as one of the many rising stars of the burgeoning eco food scene, but it’s ‘ULU Ocean Grill at the Four Seasons Resort Hualālai on the Big Island that sets the bar high for responsible dining. “‘ULU Ocean Grill prides itself on its sustainable approach to its menu,” said Fox. “The restaurant works with more than 160 farmers and fishermen on the island, and the menu boasts 75 percent locally sourced ingredients, including wild boar, ahi, octopus, tomatoes, and corn. And you can’t beat the sunset view here, with every seat facing the ocean.”
A perfect day in Boise isn’t complete without a bike ride on the Ridge to Rivers Trail System, a turn through the Boise Art Museum, and a meal at newcomer Juniper, which has quickly become a favorite for locals like Boise Food Guild blogger Bob Young. Chef Aaron puts Idaho on a pedestal, working closely with local farmers, growers, winemakers, and brewers throughout the Gem State, but it’s the restaurant’s funky personality that continues to dazzle diners. As a locally spirited gastropub, speakeasy, live music hall, and gin joint, Juniper is like one great love story about Idaho that never gets tired of being told. Pop in on any Wednesday to Saturday to try the $48 five-course dinner at the Chef’s Table.
Illinois: Bad Hunter
The vegetable-focused restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop serves up beautiful plates from chef Dan Snowden. Vegetables even work their way into dessert with dishes like sweet corn crème brûlée and beet cheesecake mousse
Indiana: Joseph Decuis
Out in the tiny town of Roanoke in northeastern Indiana, Pete and Alice Eshelman raise wagyu beef for their restaurant Joseph Decuis on a nearby farm. “The farm strictly adheres to the methods of Shogo Takeda of Japan, with whose help they built their herd,” said Jolene Ketzenberger, editor of EatDrinkIndy.com and host of Eat Drink Indiana Radio. “The farm also raises produce and chickens that help supply the restaurant; other ingredients are responsibly sourced from area producers.” Ketzenberger recommends the wagyu beef or a dish made with foraged morel mushrooms come spring. Visit in the summer when Joseph Decuis hosts outdoor dinners at the farm.
If you’ve spent any time passing through the Hawkeye State, you’ve likely looked across the horizon in awe of all that farmland—30.6 million acres, to be exact. According to the USDA, Iowa’s farmers are among the most eco-minded, focused not just on harvesting great corn and soybeans, but on conservation and renewable energy; Iowa ranks second in the country for the number of farms with wind turbines. In the historic East Village of Des Moines, Hoq epitomizes that deliciously fierce sense of sustainability. “Their motto says it all, ‘local food, global flavor,’" said Des Moines Foodster’s Nick Lucs. “Approximately 90 percent of Hoq’s ingredients come from local farms.” Order the grass-fed steak with hand-cut root fries.
Kansas: Room 39
In the small town of Leawood, right on the border between Kansas and Missouri, it’s possible to savor the American Dream. If you didn’t particularly care whether a restaurant was eco-friendly or not before, Room 39 will change the way you dine from here on out. Especially if you opt for a grand presentation of classic Kansas fare with the four-course tasting menu, which showcases the heart and soul of the hard-working, environmentally driven agricultural community. Several bites in, after learning about the local farmers—like Mitch Mott from Shroommates in Overland Park and chicken purveyors Carol and Jay Maddox of Campo Lindo Farm—the feast will undoubtably become an unexpectedly intimate and deeply meaningful experience.
Kentucky: Proof on Main
Dining at Proof on Main can feel like an out-of-body experience. Situated on Museum Row inside the boutique 21c Museum Hotel, the restaurant’s art-dappled space is as exciting and fresh as the creative Southern food being served. The cocktails are often inspired by current exhibitions, but one thing that is constant is the devotion to local Kentucky purveyors, which include the 21c founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson’s own Woodland Farm. Even if you’re not a bourbon buff, it’s worth sampling from some of the more than 75 Kentucky bottles available. Savoring Kentucky’s Rona Roberts also recommends local favorite Lilly's run by Kathy Cary, largely considered to be Louisville’s queen of farm-to-table.
“With the Gulf of Mexico at our fingertips and a year-round growing season, Louisiana offers great sustainable dining options everywhere you look,” said Jay D. Ducote of Bite & Booze, citing Nino’s Italian, Wine Country Bistro, and Sac-A-Lait as examples. Plenty of Louisana chefs have been cooking with a farm-to-table ethos long before it was cool, but newcomer Sac-A-Lait and chefs Cody and Sam Carroll have enlivened the New Orleans food scene with a wild, whimsical approach to locavorism while sourcing from Louisiana swamps, woods, and prairies. Ducote highly recommends the sweet fried alligator and mirliton with white remoulade.
Maine: Fore Street
Opened in 1996 in the Old Port District, Fore Street is still one of the hardest tables to get into in Portland. There, Chef Sam Hayward helped pioneer the local farm-to-table movement, according to Maine Eater’s Editor Adam H. Callaghan. Hayward, who has received various James Beard Foundation accolades as well as sustainability awards for his focus on seasonal ingredients, underscores that the menu showcases food that goes “far beyond lobster and blueberries to the wilder shores of four-season farms, shellfish gatherers, woodland foragers, day-boat fishers, and abundant pastures.”
Maryland: Maggie’s Farm
After you’ve had a meal at Maggie’s Farm, summer trips to Maryland won’t just be for blue crab anymore. Executive Chef Tim Hogan lets the local ingredients—sourced from his own garden and a short list of favorite purveyors—shine at this popular no-frills restaurant featuring globally inspired comfort food with flecks of Southern, Asian, and Spanish influences. Get the crispy Brussels sprouts, chicken and waffles, and bourbon donuts, and expect to order a second round of Bloody Marys.
Massachusetts: Clover Food Labs
Cambridge-based Clover Food Labs, a food truck-turned fast-casual vegetarian spot, makes it easy to dine with a tinier carbon footprint. “Serving only vegetarian fare, Clover does way more than the average restaurant in terms of being environmental,” said Jennifer Che of Tiny Urban Kitchen. “They do dverything from running their trucks on biodiesel and using only compostable utensils and plates to sourcing most of their products from local farms.” Che recommends the chickpea fritter sandwich, the egg and eggplant sandwich, and made-to-order pour-over coffee from a rotating list of local coffee purveyors. As for two other great eco restaurants around Boston, Che suggests experiencing nose-to-tail dining at Craigie on Main and the Chef’s Tasting at Lumière in Newton.
Costa Rican native Mario Cascante opened Luna in downtown Grand Rapids this past fall as an ode to Latin cuisine and farm-to-table dining. Whether you order the salsa flight or the pork tacos at Luna—which has already become a favorite spot for margarita lovers and locals like Wendy Hammond of Eat Local West Michigan—you can be sure every bit of the dish is organic, homemade, and grown from within West Michigan.
Minnesota: Birchwood Cafe
In the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, locals line up to eat at Birchwood Cafe, which has spent more than 20 years building a business around farm-to-table and the fair treatment of workers. But, as the Heavy Table’s publisher and editor James Norton points out, none of that would be possible without food that people really want to eat. “The restaurant's savory waffles are maybe the best symbol of Birchwood's commitment to flavor and are a cornerstone of their popular brunch menu,” said Norton. “The variety changes constantly, but a recent example is a sweet potato, brown rice, and kale waffle with grapefruit preserves, shallot cilantro butter, bacon lardons, a sunny-side egg, and maple syrup.”
Mississippi: Table 100
If you ask Andy Chapman, publisher of Eat Jackson and the founder of Jackson Restaurant Week, there’s really only one restaurant in town that can whet your appetite and feed your soul. “Table 100 not only supports small local farmers and presents beautifully crafted dishes, but the food always blows me away,” said Chapman, who recommends the seared thick-cut pork chops with a Delta Blues rice grit cake, herb roasted baby carrots, and balsamic red wine gastrique.
Missouri: Green Dirt Farm
The emphasis here is perhaps more on the farm than the table. Green Dirt, a sheep farm a short drive from Kansas City, not only produces excellent cheese, they also host a series of farm-to-table dinners each year with a rotating cast of chefs, often from the area, but including special guests from across state lines as well.
Montana: Local Kitchen
“Because we have a long-standing tradition of hunting, fishing, farming, and ranching, and take great pride in self-reliance, a high percentage of Montanans have naturally eaten farm to table for generations,” said Lynn Donaldson, Montana-based photographer and author of The Last Best Plates. Yet Travis Stimpson’s Billings-based Local Kitchen is among a new breed of restaurants in Big Sky country being outspoken about the sustainable food movement. “The beef comes from Stimpson’s family ranch; even the elm that crackles in the open kitchen’s wood-fired oven is harvested from the eastern Montana homestead,” added Donaldson, who recommends the handmade pumpkin ravioli.
Nebraska: The Grey Plume
The first three-star Sustainabuild Certified Green Restaurant in the country, The Grey Plume opened in Omaha five years ago with a whole-heartedly eco operation, from the repurposed building materials to the LED lighting, solar-powered hand sinks, composting program, and locally sourced menu. Order the raw wagyu beef collar and the duck fat donut with ice cream.
“In Las Vegas, agriculture is difficult in a desert with three inches of yearly rainfall,” said John Curtas of Eating Las Vegas. “Being farm-to-table means utilizing some Nevada products and a lot of produce from smaller California farms.” Curtas recommends Carnevino, Mario Batali's steakhouse on the strip, where you can enjoy a perfectly cooked, 90-day dry-aged ribeye steak just a little bit more knowing the meat is free-range and grass-fed, and all menu ingredients are sourced within 300 miles. Behind the scenes, the restaurant implements many mindful practices such as using energy efficient appliances, non-toxic ink, green seal certified hand soap, composting, and converting grease into biodiesel.
New Hampshire: Moxy
Chef Matt Louis’ background reads like a recipe for success: Culinary Institute of America, Bouchon, The French Laundry, Per Se. So it’s no wonder his restaurant Moxy is so wildly beloved in Portsmouth and throughout the state. Locals like Susan Laughlin, New Hampshire Magazine’s food editor, admire the clever presentations and serious farm-to-table philosophy. That, and travel-worthy tapas like the lacquered pork belly bites with pears and roasted pearl onions, and the DIY Johnny Cake Community platter of cornmeal pancakes, brown sugared pork shoulder, crispy onion, and pickled cucumbers. Don’t leave without the whoopie pie sliders.
New Jersey: Elements
New Jersey’s farm-to-table scene is gaining national recognition thanks to places like Elements in Princeton, Razza in Jersey City, and newcomers like Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell and 12 Farms in Hightstown. At Chef Scott Anderson’s Elements restaurant, whether you opt for the four-course tasting menu, the nine-course chef’s tasting menu or go à la carte, you’ll come away with memorable flavors and a whole new appreciation for what it means to eat well. “His modernist cuisine relies on local farms for produce as well as the foraging and herb growing his own team does,” said Pat Tanner of Dine with Pat. “But he also works with local aquaculturists and animal farmers to custom-raise product for him.”
New Mexico: La Merienda
At Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, surrounded by the bucolic, adobe-filled Albuquerque, La Merienda is a green oasis that pays homage to the pioneering farm-to-table roots of pueblo cuisine. Everything on the menu—from the micro greens to the bacon to the honey and jujubes—is sourced on-site. Whether you come for breakfast or dinner, items like the pound cake French toast and onion soup will be accompanied by beautiful lavender fields, patrolling peacocks, and charming 1930s dairy-style buildings.
New York: Blue Hill at Stone Barns
New York’s thriving farm-to-table movementall started with James Beard Award-winning Chef Dan Barber, whose groundbreaking philosophy towards sustainable dining can be deeply understood over a 10-course meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley. The ecological purity, innovation, and flavors of Barber’s famous, ever-changing "Grazing, Pecking, Rooting" menu still cannot be matched anywhere else in the Empire State.
North Carolina: Cúrate
Tucked away in downtown historic Asheville, Cúrate is a Green Certified Restaurant run by chef/owner Katie Button, a three-time James Beard Rising Star Chef Semi-Finalist and an alumnus of Jean-Georges and elBulli. Experiencing Chef Button’s Spanish tapas creations—like cod and potato purée, sautéed shrimp and sliced garlic, and cured ibérico ham—is akin to that feeling you get when watching the fog lift off North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a heavenly moment shared between you and the great outdoors, or in this case, the great food. Chef Button works with area farmers and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, resulting in fresh, flavor-rich dishes handcrafted from the local landscape.
North Dakota: Mezzaluna
For Molly Yeh, food blogger and Brooklynite-turned-North Dakota farm girl, Mezzaluna in downtown Fargo is the best eco-friendly spot, beloved for its “tasty twists on Midwest classics.” While executive chef Eric Watson is always whipping up something new and seasonally inspired, you can’t go wrong with menu staples like the artisan cheese plate, balsamic grilled strip steak, and apple tart with salted caramel ice cream and candied ginger.
Ohio: The Greenhouse Tavern
Cleveland is no longer the nation’s most underrated food city. Great new restaurants are popping up across town and a growing appetite for farm-fresh fare has shed the spotlight on Chef Jonathon Sawyer, who won the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes. Mentored by Iron Chef Michael Symon, Chef Sawyer now has several establishments to his name, like Noodlecat, Trentina, and his flagship The Greenhouse Tavern, the first certified green restaurant in Ohio. Eco initiatives range from a rooftop garden to sustainable architecture, but it’s the food—like the roasted pig head, gravy fries, rice and bean veggie burger, and crispy chicken wings confit—that will keep you coming back for more.
Beloved by locals like Hunter Meek of Oklahoma Food Mongers, Ludivine is the culinary crown jewel of Oklahoma City. Chefs Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson work with 40 different local farms on everything from bison to basil, but it’s the imaginative approach and intricate flavors of dishes like roasted bone marrow and pan roasted Berkshire rib chop that make this farm-to-fork phenom so good. Enjoy the five-course tasting menu and breathtaking behind-the-scenes view at the chef’s table.
Oregon: Farm Spirit
Sitting at the chef’s counter, lost in conversation with Chef Aaron Adams as he serves dishes like parsnip soup and a candystick squash tart, is what dining in Portland is all about. And yet this experience at newly opened Farm Spirittakes the city’s celebrated green ethos to the next level, breathing new life into a well-worn idea with its plant-based tasting menu—the first of its kind in Portland. Guests must purchase tickets to the eight-course tasting, which ranges from $65 to $85 and includes coffee, tea, and gratuity.
“My favorite and the best eco-minded spot is Vedge, a vegan restaurant by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby,” said Julie Hancher, editor-in-chief of the Green Philly Blog. “After all, livestock production has far worse greenhouse gas and environmental impacts than cars.” Though the menu at this Philadelphia restaurant is ever-changing, guests can always find eclectic dishes using seitan, tofu, and vegetables like you’ve never tasted before—even if you’ve known them all your life.
Rhode Island: Persimmon
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it has one of the greatest farm-to-table restaurant scenes in the country. Just ask a local foodie like Michele Meek of The Rhode Less Traveled, who talks about cherished places—there’s North, Garden Grille, the Grange, Birch, Nicks on Broadway, New Rivers—like they’re old friends. As for the best flavors and fiercest commitment to local, sustainably sourced ingredients, top honors goes to Persimmon. Helmed by three-time James Beard semi-finalist Champe Speidel, the Bristol-based restaurant will soon be moving to the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence. Though the locavore mentality will remain, Speidel plans to expand on the signature chef’s tasting to include 20 to 25 daily dishes in various categories such as vegetables, pasta and grains, meats and game, fish and seafood, and dessert.
South Carolina: Husk
Chef Sean Brock likes to say, “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.” At Husk, housed within a classic 19th century building in downtown Charleston, guests are invited to explore Southern cuisine through dishes like wood-fired cheese grits, Kentuckyaki glazed pig’s ear lettuce wraps, and fire-roasted Sewansecott oysters. The key to rightly celebrating Chef Brock’s authentic approach to Lowcountry food is to go slow, which is an impossible but worthy challenge.
South Dakota: M.B. Haskett
A full-fledged prairie-to-table movement hasn’t quite arrived in South Dakota, but when eco-minded restaurants like Chef Michael Haskett’s M.B. Haskett open in Sioux Falls, they quickly become the most popular. “Chef Michael cooks with ingredients from his own farm and uses local eggs, which I think is huge,” said M.J. Adams, chef and TV host of Savor Dakota. “He also works with quality local foods all year round, not just in the summer.” At M.B. Haskett, a breakfast of savory crepes and a cup of coffee, made from neighbor Black Sheep Coffee Beans, is the best way to start your day in Sioux Falls.
Tennessee: 212 Market
Back in 1992, before there was a farm-to-table trend or a Tennessee Aquarium, Sally and Susan Moses opened 212 Market with their mother Maggie in the Downtown Riverfront District of Chattanooga. Though opening a restaurant featuring only local foods was a groundbreaking feat then, today the establishment still continues to set the standard for excellence in eco-conscious dining. Among the many reasons to love 212, the first Certified Green Restaurant in Tennessee, are its grass-fed burgers, homemade baked goods, solar-powered roof, on-site herb garden, and electric car chargers in the parking lot.
Texas: Barley Swine
Suzanne Cole of the South Austin Foodiemight be miffed that Barley Swine is moving to North Austin, but that won’t stop her from regularly snagging one of 100 seats at the new location. Cole recommends chef/owner Bryce Gilmore’s 14-course tasting menu that is beautifully conceived and always inspired by local farmers. Count on delicious, innovative dishes like the mackerel, apple and kale plate, the goat ham with sweet potato and coffee emulsion, and the wagyu beef with kohlrabi cheese, along with some welcome additions like an à la carte menu, chef's garden table and more Gulf seafood options.
Ski trips to Utah should revolve around a meal at Handle in Park City. Aside from the delicious offerings, like sunchoke chawanmushi, fried chicken, and caramel pudding, Kerri Johnson of Dishing Park City loves Handle for its die-hard sustainable ethos. Working closely with farmers and ranchers, Executive Chef Briar Handly carefully sources ingredients and ensures animals are raised humanely and responsibly with a minimal impact on the environment. "It's not only our job but our duty to support the folks that work so hard to supply us with the best possible ingredients at the height of the season,” said Chef Handly. “It sounds so cliché to say ‘buy local’ these days but it really is the only way to go about what we do day in and day out.”
Vermont: SoLo Farm & Table
“A visit to southern Vermont isn’t complete without dining at SoLo Farm & Table,” said Happy Vermont author Erica Houskeeper. Whether you’re having housemade pasta with crumbled rabbit sausage or wood-fired grilled lamb with fermented wheat berries and caramelized cipollini onions, the deceptively simple fare is fittingly revelatory for a team with such impressive roots; Chloe came from Per Se and Wesley was the founding chef at Degustation. The Genovarts and their two kids live above the former inn and farmhouse on a three-acre South Londonderry property that includes vegetable gardens and an active compost program. “They will not buy anything that is on the Seafood Watch List,” notes Houskeeper. “They buy only whole animals and butcher them themselves, using every bit so there is no waste. They also ferment, can, pickle, bake their own bread, and churn their own butter.”
Pasture was one of the first restaurants to flip on the green switch in Richmond and wake up the city’s eco-conscience,” said Bethany Frazier of Grub Like a Girl. Frazier is partial to the pimento cheese on Ritz crackers and the housemade noodles with red chili pork ragout, and raves about the VA craft beer selection, but finds that everything on chef/owner Jason Alley’s menu captures the essence of Southern flavor while continuing to inspire guests and local chefs to support the farm-to-table movement.
Washington: The Herbfarm
After wine tasting in Woodinville, the next stop is a five-hour dinner at The Herbfarm, the pinnacle of farm-to-table dining in Washington. Just 30 minutes from Seattle, the meal begins with a garden tour and meet-and-greet with Basil and Borage, the property’s pet pigs. The nine-course exploration of Pacific Northwest cuisine is reliant on the season’s daily changing offerings sourced primarily from the restaurant’s own garden and farm, and the menu is often finalized only shortly before being presented. Food themes range from Truffle Treasure to Super Cattle in Seattle to Salmon Nation, but the quality and ingenuity is a constant. Expect dishes like Boletus and Dungeness Crab Handkerchiefs, Lummi Island Reefnetted Sockeye, Muscat-Poached Peaches, and rare items such as water-grown wasabi root and artisanal caviars.
Washington, D.C.: Founding Farmers
Owned by over 40,000 family farmers, Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C., isn’t your typical farm-to-table restaurant. Profits go directly back to the producers, from the flourmill to the fruit orchard, making a meal here as much about feeding your soul as satisfying your appetite. Led by Executive Chef Joseph Goetze, this cool co-op makes everything from scratch and the skillet cornbread and pot roast are not to be missed.
West Virginia: Good Natured Market & Café
“Many restaurants in West Virginia strive toward a farm-to-table ideal,” said Eating West Virginia’s Rick Lawson, who recommends under-the-radar gems The Purple Fiddler and Café Cimino. But it’s the needs-no-frills Good Natured Market & Café that Lawson considers to be the ultimate destination for vegetarians and vegans. The tempeh bacon BLT and organic sweet potato falafel are good enough to convert a carnivore, and owner Pam Smith’s commitment to sustainability is contagious.
It’s always nice to taste a dream, even if it happens to be somebody else’s. Named Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation, Graze’s Executive Chef Tory Miller came to the Badger State from the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park with a vision of cooking with local farm-raised ingredients. He’s since fulfilled his mission, working with over 200 local vendors and inspiring Wisconsites like Nichole Fromm of Eating in Madison A to Z to dine mindfully. Situated between two lakes in downtown Madison, Graze caters to a variety of dietary needs while still making every dish—from the cheese curds to the Bibimbap burrito—seem like the best you’ll ever have.
The magnum opus of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is Couloir, helmed by Chef Wes Hamilton, who also oversees the resort’s eight other restaurants. After a nine-minute champagne-infused gondola ride to the 9,000-foot summit of Bridger Gondola, you’ll enjoy dramatic views and the most rewarding meal you’ve had at this or any elevation. Locals like Cara Rank, editor and publisher of Dishing Jackson Hole, laud Couloir as much for its delicious Rocky Mountain food and environmental practices as for Chef Hamilton’s benevolent nature. For one thing, he’s developing Vertical Harvest, a three-story greenhouse being built in downtown Jackson that will be staffed by mentally disabled adults and provide tomatoes, herbs, microgreens, and lettuces to all resort eateries.