You can probably think of your favorite local Mexican joint, Italian café and Chinese delivery. But what’s your favorite restaurant that uses local ingredients to inspire fresh, new dishes? That’s where farm-to-table restaurants come in. They’ve revolutionized the dining experience by incorporating produce, meats and dairy products from local merchants and farmers in order to give back to the local community and simultaneously take inspiration from it. In order to wet your farm-to-table whistle, we’ve highlighted eight of the country’s top destinations for fresh, locally inspired food. Get ready to book your vacation rental … you’ll be hungry!
1. Nashville, Tennessee – The Farm House
Nashville is famous for country music, cowboy boots and hot chicken. But the city’s dining scene is on the up — and restaurants like The Farm House are leading the way. The Farm House’s owner and chef, Trey Cioccia, knows the area’s ingredients well, as he’s from Nashville. He incorporates these local flavors into brunch and classic Southern dishes.
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2. Phoenix, Arizona – Quiessence Restaurant
Phoenix is gaining international attention as a foodie city on the rise after years of having a notoriously basic selection. And perhaps no restaurant embodies those changes better than Quiessence, which has racked up accolades from Zagat and Travel & Leisure, where it was named as one of the nation’s most romantic restaurants. The locally sourced dishes are served with inventive cocktails and served amid a picturesque backdrop — a description that might not do the beauty of the facility justice.
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3. Dearborn, Michigan – Tria Restaurant
Michigan farms supply the locally revered Dearborn Farmer’s Market with a cornucopia of fresh ingredients for locals to use in their dishes. Meanwhile, restaurants like Tria make that practice into an artform. Tria offers a full selection of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly plates — many of the staff are meat-free, too, so they make sure everything is up to snuff for their fellow herbivores.
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4. Boulder, Colorado – Salt the Bistro
Boulder has been on the good-food map since 2014, when Forbes named it one of the country’s five secret foodie cities. Salt the Bistro gives that award a farm-to-table edge, and the chefs are seriously connected to the local community. They build relationships with farmers so strong that one of their suppliers feeds Salt the Bistro scraps to his pigs.
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5. New Orleans, Louisiana – Mosquito Supper Club
There’s no need to detail the exquisite food scene in New Orleans. But the city’s not quite so well known for it’s healthy, farm-to-table options — its heavier fried fare typically takes the spotlight.
At Mosquito Supper Club, ingredients don’t only come from farm-to-table — they come from marsh- and bayou-to-table, too. To that end, the restaurant’s menu changes each month to match what ingredients are available and in-season.
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6. Sedgwick, Maine – Aragosta
The beauty of a trip to Sedgwick, Maine, is that you can experience that beautiful, small-town New England that’s so easy to envision. The town is known as an ideal getaway for birdwatchers, full of adorable bed-and-breakfasts where you can rest between outdoor expeditions — and farm-to-table dining, of course.
Aragosta chronicles all of the farms from which it sources its ingredients and, like many other restaurants on this list, changes its menus to match what’s in season. For chef Devin Finigan, opening a farm-to-table restaurant made sense: her mother was an avid gardener, and her father was a chef, too.
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7. Wailuku, HI – The Mill House Maui
Hawaii is a tropical paradise, so it’s no surprise that Maui has opportunities to eat locally and visit the very farms from which ingredients are sourced. You can knock both of those items off your vacation to-do list at The Mill House Maui, which sits on the Maui Tropical Plantation. Aside from a stellar farm-to-table meal, you can take a tram tour of the plantation or even go zip lining across the beautiful grounds.
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8. Hickory, NC – Highland Avenue
Hickory, North Carolina, is best known for it’s southern-style barbecue. But Highland Avenue brings a dash of sophistication to this small town’s — an hour’s drive from scenic Asheville — food scene. The restaurant promises a truly local experience, as local farmers and merchants are regularly in and out of the building to deliver local produce, cheese and meat.
Fortunately, the farm-to-table revolution isn’t limited to these eight cities. So, as you plan your trip to one of them, have a look around your own hometown: you might be surprised to see what local chefs are doing with local ingredients in your backyard.
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Kacey Mya is a travel and lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.