10 Restaurants Reveal What "Local" Food Really Means

What Does “Local” Food Really Mean?

Farm-to-table and local ingredients are popular in restaurants, but “local” doesn’t mean the same thing to every chef or business. We asked 10 farm-to-table restaurants nationwide what local means to them.

By Nicole Haase


The Restaurant at Pawtomak Farm

Lovettsville, VA

“We are an organic farm and restaurant. Our primary focus is to cook seasonally and to create a dining experience that incorporates the experience of "farm to table" in a way no other restaurant can do. By raising our own crops, eggs, poultry, fruits, and wild goodies we create a symbiotic relationship with our environment that we use to our advantage. Most of the ingredients we use we grow ourselves. Beyond those, our menu from cocktails to sweets, is comprised 99 percent from ingredients found within 20 to 50 miles around us.” — chef Tarver King

Arroyo Vino

Santa Fe, NM

“We have an on-site garden and farm. In the height of growing season, 75 percent of our produce comes from our farm. In winter, right now, it’s at 25 percent but our kitchen is doing more with preservation and fermentation to increase that number.” — general manager Brian Brigsten



San Antonio, TX

“Texas products. Most of the people that we source from are farmers from the Austin area.” owner and chef Elizabeth Johnson 

Baldwin’s Station

Sykesville, MD

“Maryland. We are at the intersection of two counties and we primarily use farms from there. In season, all produce, crab and fish come from Maryland.” — general manager David Young 

Braise Restaurant

Milwaukee, WI

“Anything coming from the state of Wisconsin. We have our own distribution system to help procure ingredients, called Braise RSA. We not only source for Braise but 35 other food businesses in Milwaukee. Sixty percent comes from a 100-mile radius and 84 percent comes within a 200-mile radius.” — owner and chef Dave Swanson


Noble Bistro

Ontario, Canada
“The hard part is when it comes to produce. We use a company called 100 KM Foods which sources everything from within 100 km (66 miles) of the general Toronto area.” — chef John Ross 

Local 360

Seattle, WA

“We try as much as possible to get everything within 360 miles of our location. In the summer, up to 90 percent of our ingredients and in the winter, up to 60 percent meet that goal. If we cannot get it locally we try to find a local distributor to get it to us. In addition, 100 percent of wine, beer, and spirits are from the local area.” — general manager Sylvain Berthe

The Kitchen Restaurant Group

Colorado, Tennessee, and Illinois

“We strive to source locally — 350 miles of each restaurant — as much as possible and we strive to be able to trace everything back to its original source. Having awareness of how much of our food comes from local purveyors helps us measure the impact on the local farming economy everywhere we do business. From serving non-traditional fish to creating dishes that use less beef that satisfy meat lovers, The Kitchen works hard to create a menu that reflects the actual food supply chain.” — co-founder Kimbal Musk 

Greenhouse Tavern

Cleveland, OH

“About 70 percent of seasonal produce is sourced locally. All land-based proteins across the board are from within 200 miles, and we really only source ocean fish and specific regional items like olive oil from farther away. Our first choice is sourcing product that is locally-grown, certified sustainable, humane, and equitable for farmers. If that's not available, we purchase from someone local who may not have those certifications but who practices that way, and the next step after that is someone who shows interest in transitioning into a farm who has those practices and is local. If we can't source locally, we look for national producers who practice sustainability.” —chef Jonathon Sawyer


The Farm and Fisherman Tavern & Market

Cherry Hill, NJ

“It means to know who we’re buying from and developing those relationships. I picture it like a Venn Diagram: there’s a sustainability bubble and local bubble. Ideally we’re at the intersection. But the sustainability is the primary goal.” — general manager Ben Menk




This article appeared in Issue 9 | September/October 2016

We’re going local in Issue 9, taking a deep look at what it takes to create thriving communities, where some attempts fall short, and how conscious business can and does help. We have interviews and advice from top CEOs, including George Siemon of billion-dollar farmers’ co-op Organic Valley; Robyn Sue Fisher, who built a 200-employee ice cream business out of a Radio Flyer wagon; and Reeves Clippard of A&R Solar, one of Seattle’s fastest-growing companies. We also investigate the dark side of the sharing economy, offer a complete guide to the new equity crowdfunding law, and present the case for employee ownership. Plus: how to be a better listener, key business lessons for makers, Detroit’s leading innovators, and more!

Buy Issue

Related Articles