The farm-to-table movement is about more than eating your vegetables; restaurateurs, chefs, farmers, and the like are making the push to educate consumers about where their food comes from – and how it’s made. By buying ingredients directly from local farmers, restaurants not only promise delicious, high-quality food, but they also foster an ethically-conscious and environmentally-friendly practice. With greater attention to agriculture, it is possible to promote a more sustainable system that simultaneously offers a more healthful way of life. These restaurants are making an impact on the local food movement by patronizing agribusiness and serving the freshest picks:
Chez Panisse – Berkeley, CA
Known as the “mother of slow food,” Chef Alice Waters has been running this neighborhood bistro since its doors opened in 1971, constantly striving “for both environmental harmony and delicious flavor.” Some say that the farm-to-table restaurant was the first of its kind; at the time, Waters’ use of fresh, organic, and locally grown products was a novelty that other establishments were quick to copy. Chez Panisse serves a set menu downstairs every night below their more affordable lunch and dinner café, including mouthwatering local seafood, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. And they apply their enlightened agricultural philosophy beyond the restaurant; the Edible Schoolyard Project provides urban public schools with organic gardens and kitchen classrooms to foster a better understanding of the natural world and how it sustains us.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, NY
Just 30 miles north of the city, this New York eatery offers an escape from the daily grind with a four-season farm that delivers fresh ingredients right off the vine. Though it’s only been around since 2004, Blue Hill at Stone Barns has already become known for its conscious agricultural philosophy and high-quality grub. Instead of a traditional menu, they serve “Grazing, Pecking, Rooting” which allows each guest to get a taste of the season’s harvest – though you can also dig into a 3 course spread if you sit at the bar. Enjoy a glass from their extensive wine list in the private dining room while you take in a peaceful view of the farm’s herb garden. This elegant establishment marries American farming tradition with fine dining for an experience that’s hard to beat.
Vermillion – Alexandria, VA
Located right outside the nation’s capital, this Northern Virginia and DC favorite attracts tourists and locals alike – including a Valentine’s visit by President Obama and his wife Michelle. It’s easy to see why they chose this modern American restaurant in the heart of historic Old Town, Alexandria; Chef William Morris dishes out a menu of regional cuisine made using locally-sourced, farm-raised products in a stunning space. Twice a month guests have the chance to sit at “The Farm Table,” an intimate, reservation-only dining experience presented by Chef Morris himself. The dinner menu offers delectable plates like a local Shenandoah beef filet, seared Atlantic cod, and homemade tagliatelle. While Vermillion has a long list of accolades, it’s worth noting that the small bistro was named one of the Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurant’s in 2013 and was awarded Best Upscale Casual Restaurant in 2010 by The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Blackberry Farm – Walland, Tennessee
Lying among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee you’ll find Blackberry Farm, a stunning natural site that provides fresh ingredients using the same approach as the Cherokee tribes and early Appalachians who came before it. More than 4,200 acres of land make up this farm, country inn, and restaurant(s) that have been in the same family since 1976. The cuisine “wanders the line between refined and rugged,” taking notes from modern American fare while it maintains indigenous roots in the area’s agricultural heritage. Named the best Hotel for Food Lovers by none other than Bon Appetit, both The Barn at Blackberry Farm and The Dogwood are sure to satisfy your palette – they’re easy on the eyes, too.
Pizzeria Bianco – Pheonix, Arizona
Most people think New York when they think pizza. But this Arizona establishment has received endless praise, named “a mecca for the pizza obsessed” by Chef Nancy Silverton while The New York Times believes it serves “perhaps the best in America.” More than 25 years ago, Chris Bianco didn’t expect his small pizzeria – located in the back corner of a Pheonix grocery store – to go very far. Since then, he has won a James Beard Award and was named one of 6 chefs who changed pizza by Zagat, inspiring others in the artisinal pizza movement with his simple food philosophy. The menu is familiar, with a spare selection of such classics as margharita, marinara, and biancoverde; but local ingredients like fresh organic greens, tomatoes, and basil make each well-loved recipe simply unreal. Pizzeria Bianco now has multiple locations throughout Pheonix and Tucson.