As farm-to-table dining has grown in popularity, more and more people question how their food is produced.
Whether they do so consciously or not, many U.S. restaurants inherently demonstrate the mission of Slow Food International, a global, grassroots movement that has thousands of members and promotes "good, clean, fair food’" for everyone.
Though by no means an exhaustive list, here are some U.S. restaurants that demonstrate Slow Food principles.
Chez Panisse — Photo courtesy of Amanda Marsalis
Open since 1971, Chez Panisse was the brainchild of chef Alice Waters and some "idealistic" friends. Whether you enjoy a fixed, multi-course menu that changes daily or select à la carte items (found in The Café upstairs), a memorable meal awaits at this renowned dining destination.
Vice President of Slow Food International, Waters is passionate about utilizing organic, locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Many come from the restaurant’s farm, and from dozens of additional purveyors who share the same values regarding food.
Recent fixed menu dishes featured Dungeness crab, locally sourced pork loin with potato croquette, wild mushroom and celery root pansotti, and Meyer lemon and huckleberry ice cream meringata.
Awarded a stringently vetted Slow Food ‘Snail of Approval’ award, Chef/owner Tom Colicchio’s New York restaurant is well-known for using top quality, seasonal ingredients – often sourced from local vendors – as well as spacious, elegant and contemporary surroundings.
Simple cold-weather dishes offering incomparable flavor have included pumpkin agnolotti (pasta with amaretti, pecan and sage), roasted monkfish and grilled quail. A plethora of freshly prepared vegetables, potatoes and grains fill out the remaining menu. There’s even an entire page of desserts, coffees and teas.
Opened in 2001, Craft received the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the nation, the following year.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Batido tropical milkshakes — Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray
This bright and airy eatery, in downtown Ann Arbor, offers cuisine inspired by Cuban street food, including The Frita: chorizo burgers topped with shoestring fries inside an egg bun. And try the Batidos, tropical milkshakes made with fresh fruit, sweetened milk and crushed ice.
While following the seasons, Frita Batidos also incorporates meat, cheese and produce that are primarily sourced from Michigan or the Midwest. A member of the culinary world for 25 years, Chef/owner Eve Aronoff even lists current providers on the "Philosophy" page of the restaurant website.
Local Roots — Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray
This restaurant chooses ingredients based on a philosophy called S.O.L.E. – Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical – reflecting a belief that we eat whatever we do to the earth. The "farmacology" focus at Local Roots infuses every meal with the freshest seasonal ingredients available and many items come from the restaurant garden.
Although some meat and seafood appear on the menu, veggies often take center stage. Local Roots is also a great place to explore pickled foods from every part of the produce. OpenTable diners also ranked this dining destination among 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America in 2015.
Paul Martin's American Grill
Paul Martin's American Grill — Photo courtesy of Paul Martin's American Grill
A popular spot amid Dallas’ thriving restaurant scene, Paul Martin’s American Grill commits to serving scratch-made dishes that feature sustainable seafood as well as free-range and unadulterated meats or poultry. You’ll also find artisan cheeses and cured meats, seasonal produce and house-infused spirits here.
Dark and elegant without being stuffy, the restaurant is often packed with customers who order dishes such as roasted chicken salad, shrimp fettuccine with wild Pacific shrimp, or chimichurri chicken served with wild mushroom faro and Savoy spinach.
Decca Restaurant & Lounge
Decca Restaurant & Lounge — Photo courtesy of Original Makers Club
Operating in the vibrant NuLu neighborhood of Louisville, this upscale, yet laid-back restaurant offers cuisine with a focus on seasonality and sustainability, served amid refreshed dining spaces inside a historic brick building.
What this means for customers is an ever-changing menu with inventive dishes such as wood-grilled broccoli, almonds, anchovy; linguine, foraged mushrooms, rosemary, whey; or cast iron apple cake, fennel ice cream, walnut crumble.
James Beard award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz creates menus that incorporate many locally sourced ingredients inside this Miami-located grill and cocktail bar, where each dish is a work of art and delight for the palate. Meals are served against a backdrop of old-school yet unfussy elegance, with richly upholstered banquettes and chairs paired with polished wood tables.
In addition, carefully curated wine and cocktail lists accompany seasonally-inspired menu items such as duck confit with sunchokes, mizuna and chili vinaigrette, or wood roasted short rib with celery root, almond, horseradish and preserved lemon.
Overland Park, Kan.
Lobster egg roll — Photo courtesy of Lisa Waterman Gray
Students from the Shawnee Mission School District’s culinary arts instruction program have received more than $1.6 million in scholarships through local and national competitions. And the public enjoys multi-course dinners in the program's gorgeous, 120-seat restaurant on Wednesday evenings, during the school year.
Many seasonal ingredients come from their own urban garden, as well as other local providers. Chef Bob Brassard, named “Culinary Educator of the Year, 2008” by Foodservice Educators Network International, and previous culinary student and professionally experienced Chef Justin Hoffman, guide kids in creating dishes such as the Duroc pork ribeye chop with cream corn potato puree, sweet and sour chard, and smoked pimento jus.
Living Farm Cafe
Chef/owner Mike Gillespie grew up on The Living Farm. He opened this ‘ultimate farm-to-table restaurant’ after working in Colorado dining establishments since age 5. Gillespie has committed to incorporating local, farm-fresh, organic and free-range ingredients, including meat, cheese and eggs into his dishes. And that's all while recycling glass, plastic, aluminum and other items, and composting, which helps reduce the restaurant’s footprint in the community.
The constantly changing menu may feature lamb enchiladas to elk burgers and gnocchi primavera to pan seared striped bass. Guests of The Living Farm Inn, upstairs, can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner here, too.
Lula Cafe — Photo courtesy of Kyle Kissel
Chefs/proprietors, Jason Hammel and Lea Tshilds, have created a casual, friendly ambiance with a bit of a retro feel, and a menu showcasing loads of locally sourced fresh produce and other ingredients at their Chicago eatery. That means individual dishes may come and go, depending on seasonal availability. Want to know where your duck breast or butternut squash came from? Check the website.
The six course vegetarian tasting menu, at dinner, is a great way to sample what Lula serves. Breakfast is big here as well, whether you order classic buttermilk pancakes and a more 'adventurous' smoked trout scramble or a grain bowl featuring bitter greens, grilled apple, celery, white cheddar, hazelnut vinaigrette and a soft boiled egg.