Against a national obsession with fast food, Slow Food International strives to support local farmers, growers and restaurants, encouraging consumers and businesses to slow down and appreciate food once again. Started in 1986 by Italian Carlo Petrini, and endorsed by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama, Slow Food International promotes businesses that prepare and sell food that is good, clean, fair and available to all. We’ve selected 10 restaurants making their own mark for sustainable, responsible and enjoyable food in the United States.
Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant met the high standards of Slow Food NYC and received the organisation’s ‘Snail of Approval’ award. By providing patrons with high quality, authentic and sustainable fare, Craft creates food that is simple and straight-forward, including menu items like braised beef short ribs and roasted Brussel sprouts. Colicchio’s passion for supporting local vendors and serving the best possible food to his guests has contributed to his success as a restaurateur. He now has several restaurant locations, publications, and live appearances.
The prix-fixe menu at Chez Panisse is always crafted using seasonal ingredients of the highest quality from local producers. The restaurant’s creative maven, Alice Waters, has become iconic in the culinary world. As an early supporter of the slow food movement, her restaurant embodied many of the ideals associated with the movement. Waters continues to support the development of good food in the United States and was awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from Bon Appetit for her efforts and influence on American cuisine.
One reviewer said of the Cypress Room: ‘[The chef’s] passion for locally sourced ingredients is apparent in every bite. You know if you go to one of his restaurants it’s going to be fresh and delicious.’ It’s true that the Cypress Room is a beautiful, sophisticated restaurant that boasts a James Beard-award-winning chef, Michael Schwartz. The Cypress Room has an air of glam with a nod to earlier decades of glitz and sophistication. Those themes run through the menu as well with entrée items like pheasant and wellington, and mixed drinks with names like ‘Count Basie’ and ‘Go Lightly’.
The menu at Lula Cafe is ‘subject to change due to availability and the season’s whim.’ That’s because Lulu is committed to using fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients. You can even find a list of their vendors on their website. The atmosphere is casual and friendly here, and the food is inviting. For an especially good meal, come for breakfast and eat eggs so fresh that you may learn the name of the hen that laid them.
Set in rural New England amidst enchanting woods and a bubbling stream, Hen of the Wood has been heralded by some critics as the best restaurant in Vermont. The menu features dishes that dress up rustic fare with a coat of sophistication. Sheep’s milk gnocchi, beef steaks from locally-raised cattle, and an array of Vermont cheeses have visitors swooning and returning again and again.
SweetGreen now has multiple locations on the East Coast, but its commitment to community and quality food is the same. At their core is a belief in working hard to provide an experience to connect people with the food that they eat and where it comes from. All of the locations of SweetGreen are quaint and blend in perfectly within their neighbourhoods. Many of them are housed in reclaimed buildings that had previously served their communities in other ways. From their locally produced food to their very store-fronts, SweetGreen is furthering their personable approach with customers, business partners and communities.
Eastside Cafe has been delighting locals in the capital of the Lonestar State for more than 20 years. Located in an old bungalow-style home that was turned over for commercial use, the café utilizes the property that the building is on and the owners have cultivated an impressive garden that produces much of the ingredients for the café. Almost everything on the menu is made in-house daily, and there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. The atmosphere is cosy and a meal here feels special in a very comforting way.
Greens Restaurant is known for paving the way for vegetarian restaurants. The chefs here are obsessed with creating innovative food with high-quality vegetables. Since opening in 1979, Greens has purchased its produce from local family growers and a nearby residential Zen community. From the dining room of the restaurant, customers can enjoy stunning views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, and regularly forget why they ever thought they needed meat at every meal.
The name chosen for Local 360 is very practical. They strive to obtain all of the fresh ingredients for the restaurant within a 360-mile radius. The connection with their suppliers is so important to the owners and staff of Local 360 that they list sources for nearly everything in their restaurant on their website. Not only will you find fresh meat and produce from local farms, but juices, spirits, wines, beers and sodas are all from local sources as well. The whimsical menu features irresistible dishes like fried pumpkin seeds, PB&J bonbons, and root-beer-glazed pork belly. Local 360 is definitely a spot to try for anyone local to the Pacific Northwest, or just visitors wanting to get in on the local food action.
If you’re ever in Milwaukee, don’t leave without a visit to Braise. This place is not just a restaurant, it’s a collaboration to celebrate and educate about sustainable food. Incorporated into the restaurant’s business model is a cooking school that offers classes from cooking basics to knife skills to seasonal desserts. Braise also coordinates group visits to local farms to really get people in their community interested and informed about the origins of their food.