I’m sure that New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco have some of the finest and fanciest local-food restaurants in the world. But I spend most of my time in small, friendly outdoor havens, so that's what this list is going to focus on. Here are my three favorite restaurants where the food on your plate likely came from the back of a farmer's truck.
Best Local-Food Restaurants: Element 47 at the Little Nell
You might need to save up a month’s salary to afford a dinner for two at the new Element 47 in Aspen, Colorado, but the food, scenery, celebrity sightings, and vast wine list make the experience worth the price. Element, the signature restaurant in Aspen’s poshest hotel, opened in November after a multi-million-dollar dining room renovation. Sit at the bar and munch on burgers slopped with local cheddar and a side of duck fat fries.
Best Local-Food Restaurants: Harvest
The crowd that packs into Madison, Wisconsin's Harvest is as eclectic as its ever-changing menu. You’ll find young hippies sitting next to state politicians, bankers next to beer-drinking college professors. They all come for the same thing: unpretentious yet impeccably-prepared offerings that are both organic and locally-sourced. Once a month, Harvest holds a theme night, focusing on regional fare; during a recent “Holiday Game Night,” they served bison, venison, boar, and rabbit.
Best Local-Food Restaurants: Homegrown Eatery
Don’t be fooled by the humble-looking facade, the flimsy yard-sale tables, or the fact that you have to order from a chalkboard menu on the wall. Homegrown, in Asheville, North Carolina, is a locavore’s paradise. The ingredients to its ever-changing selection of sandwiches, fried chicken, and tofu creations are supplied by ten local farms. Don’t forget to bus your table and compost the scraps on your way out.