Chicago's food scene's come a long way since farm-to-table involved layovers at the processing plant and the microwave. To celebrate how awesome we've become at being deliciously conscientious, we partnered up with Bolthouse Farms to spotlight nine of Chi's best f-to-t spots.
Gallery Bar: Gallery Bar's keeping it cultured with a farm-to-art-exhibit approach: they tap farmer's markets and Indiana & Wisco farms for Asian-influenced street cuisine from veal chorizo egg rolls to salmon chili, and have a constantly rotating roster of buyable local art. Their beer cocktails are no joke either -- if you ever wanted to know if Chain Breaker IPA and gin went together, here's your chance. Hit up Gallery Bar now through Wed, Nov 20, and walk away with a free bottle of Bolthouse Farms juice -- follow this map to get the goods.
*While supplies last
Longman & Eagle: It's farm-to-table-to-bed at Longman & Eagle, where they're plating fresh regional American fare like wild boar sloppy joes and Slagel Family Farm lamb tartare, and offering six reasonably priced "vibrant urban enclaves" in the upstairs hotel, the most convenient place possible to wait out your sustainable-food coma.
Prasino: Prasino is Greek for "green", which plays out in food/drinks sourced from local farmers, ranchers, vintners, and brewers who place freshness next to Godliness. The menu runs the hunger gamut from pretzel croissant french toast to pork belly & scallop tacos, which is American for "full".
Grange Hall Burger Joint: Farmers work up quite an appetite after waking up to vintage alarm clocks (roosters) and tending to the land. Thank god you don't have to tend anything to hit their "Farmer's Breakfast," which includes creamy sausage gravy and farm-style bacon.
Perennial Virant: Sourcing from as many farms as Perennial Virant does, you might start to lose count. Put it down on the menu, thought Chef Paul Virant, so you can remember exactly where those cheese fritters you're inhaling came from. (Answer: they don't come from very far at all.)
Browntrout: Some couples go on their honeymoon in New Zealand, catch and cook-up a brown trout with English peas, walnuts, shallots and potatoes with fresh mint, then think, we should do this same thing back at home. Actually no couples do that, except Sean and Nadia Sanders, who now do it on the daily at their New American outpost.
Local Root: These guys talk the talk, and walk the walk. Or actually they drive the walk (even the local-est farm isn't that close), heading out on field trips to partner farms, distilleries and vineyards to ensure quality control is not just a Jurassic 5 album.
Homestead: These Home-boys set up a 1,000-square foot garden -- plus two massive vertical hanging gardens -- out on their second-floor patio, just feet away from the table where you'll be eating. Don't even think about trying to out-fresh them.
Publican Quality Meats: Remember the good 'ole days of traditional whole animal butchery? Probably not, but Publican sure does, and that's why they're stocking local, organic meat arriving intact and available to purchase whole or part-by-part (and we're talking every part).
1. Gallery Bar738 N Clark, Chicago
2. Longman & Eagle2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
3. Prasino1846 W Division St, Chicago
4. Grange Hall Burger Bar844 W Randolph, Chicago
5. Perennial Virant1800 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
6. Browntrout4111 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
7. Local Root601 N Mc Clurg Ct, Chicago
8. Homestead on the Roof1924 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
9. Publican Quality Meats825 W Fulton Market, Chicago
Combining art and food in a waaaay better manner than eating your mom's stencil portraits, Gallery Bar's serving up Asian-influenced burritos, pizzas, and other innovative stuff in a space bedecked with pop art prints.
Longman & Eagle, the Michelin-starred gastropub in Logan Square, has an exclusive whiskey selection (clocking in at over 400 labels), a craft cocktail menu, and an extensive beer list all fit for the most pretentious of drinkers, in the least pretentious of atmospheres. Longman takes a flavor-forward, honest approach to eating and drinking, and because it doesn’t accept reservations, there is always a wait for brunch, happy hour, and dinner alike. (And it is always worth it.) While whiskey may be king, the regional American fare has just as much to offer, hence the Michelin star. The menu changes often, but expect anything from beef tallow beignets and veal brains to wild boar sloppy joes, chicken and waffles, and a burger that, if you know what's good for you, you will order.
Prasino is serious about its sustainability, with light fixtures made from old boxes and furniture crafted from recycled polyester. All-day plates range from morning munchies (brulee-battered pretzel croissant French toast w/ white chocolate sauce and salted caramel), to savory short rib tacos w/ queso fresco and poblano cream.
Because going back to the farm is great unless you play baseball, or just plugged in your electric at Newport and Pete Seeger is hanging around with an axe (dude is so folking angry!), Grange Hall channels its owner's pastoral Michigan past, with white, barn-style doors opening into airy digs outfitted with loads of reclaimed wood, antique communal tables set with mismatched vintage settings, all under the watchful gaze of a bovine wall hanging that's so big, you'll cow-er under it.
Taking the title of its Green City Market-neighboring predecessor and tacking on the last name of the Michelin-starred, farm-to-table-fixated chef now manning the kitchen, PV's an "urban garden" thanks to copious greenery interspersed amongst tables of aged oak, which explains why he was so easy to rough up in Vegas.
BT's takes the sustainability wave fo' real w/ a rooftop garden and fresh-as-possible entrees like grilled lake trout roulade and a Spring poutine (just 'cause it's hot doesn't mean you can't eat fries slathered with gravy).
LR is a three-meal-a-day American cafe intensely dedicated to sourcing their food locally. Breakfast and lunch options range from vanilla custard French toast and lamb, egg & goat cheese on a biscuit, and a 12hr braised beef brisket sandwiches w/ fennel slaw & chevre. For dinner? Order one of their seven poutines.
This "literal farm-to-table" resto features a rooftop patio with views of their 1,000-square foot organic rooftop farm and two massive vertical hanging gardens. If the view isn't enough for you, try their insanely fresh garden creations like heirloom tomato with whipped ricotta, house-cured olive spread, opal basil and croutons.
Publican Quality Meats is something of a triple threat: equal parts butcher shop, café, and speciality grocery store, it features an awe-inspiring selection of sausages and cured charcuterie meats, served individually from the butcher case or in sandwiches made with house-baked bread. The lunch menu is often changing, but the Parm #2 features a beautifully crisp chicken cutlet nestled into a brioche bun, while the sausage plate lets you sample three of the house-made specialities with sauerkraut and breadcrumbs. A breakfast menu includes ham and egg biscuit sandwiches and a pork belly breakfast burrito, though if you're in the mood for something less savory, there are pastries and coffee, too.