Well, it’s not that simple. Ingredients often travel long distances before hitting your plate and not in the interest of accruing frequent flier miles. In the process, things get less tasty, drop in nutritional value, and burn through tons of carbon. That’s why many chefs have chosen to source their ingredients close-by which is better for the planet and your taste buds, alike. These six restaurants serve dishes made with ingredients so local, you can almost taste the soil.
Manresa (Los Gatos, CA)
Remember in elementary school when we learned about how the shark and that little fish that hangs out on the shark have a mutually beneficial relationship? Cynthia Sandberg of Love Apple Farm plants her wide selection of produce months in advance based on what chef David Kinch plans to serve. On the flipside, Kinch only serves the best of what Sandberg has to offer at this two Michelin-star restaurant on any given day. The two depend almost-exclusively on each other to stay in business ensuring that the vegetable-centric food on your plate has been sufficiently fussed over.
North Pond (Chicago, IL)
Chef Bruce Sherman’s top concern is flavor and his belief is that the best tasting food comes from right under our noses. Dishes are built around the natural flavors of ingredients used—think fresh lobster, grass-fed beef, and a bevy of vegetables—in order to accentuate their nuanced natural flavors. When ramp season hits—a short time in the spring —expect North Pond’s constantly evolving menu to come to a ramp-fueled halt to showcase the green onion-y plants often referred to as human catnip.
Tupelo Honey Cafe (Asheville, NC)
Tupelo is a fine example of an entire community working together to feed your hungry eco-face. Whatever owner Steve Frabitore and chef Brian T. Sonoskus can grow on their 10-acre farm makes it to the menu, along with contributions from local artisans who craft pastries, beer, and other foods for the restaurant. In collaborating with the community, Tupelo is able to provide a concerted experience on every plate. Dishes here are dotted with edible flowers from the garden and best finished with micro-brews from nearby French Broad Brewery.
Trellis (Kirkland, WA)
A unique menu item here is the two-hour salad which doesn’t speak to the amount of time between your order and the dish’s arrival. Rather, chef Brian Scheehser sources his salad trimmings from a nearby five-acre self-planted farm and serves them in less than two hours after they are picked. The vegetables—which includes heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, amongst seasonal others topped with fresh soft cheese—are showcased at their most succulent and you’ll be happy to know that it’s not just the produce that spends little time in transit. Trellis serves Washington state wines which ensures that your fancy dinner money also feeds the local wine economy.
‘ULU Ocean Grill (Kona, HI)
Hawaii got the short end of the stick when it comes to sourcing ingredients locally. However, ‘ULU—located at the Four Seasons hotel in Kona—shows that it can be done. For a state that imports 90 percent of its food, this little corner of the Big Island manages to use 75 percent local ingredients. The ‘ULU team built relationships with over 160 local farmers and fishermen to bring distinct Hawaiian products—such as coastal swordfish, wild boar, and island-grown tomatoes—to an upscale dining setting with expansive ocean views. What else can you find locally in Kona? All the jittery coffee your little palpitating heart desires.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, NY)
You could say that chef Dan Barber is the godfather of the locavore movement. He lives and breathes the Hudson Valley where most ingredients at Blue Hill are sourced from the directly located four-season farm known as Stone Barns Center. Furthermore, the chef is dedicated to teaching others the benefits of the movement through an educational center on-site. Barber’s tasting menus are only described as “Grazing,” “Rooting,” and “Pecking,” leaving him room for creativity with ingredients from the field, greenhouse, pasture, and forest. A seat at the coveted restaurant is hard to come by but well worth it.