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Midwest Restaurants Featuring Local Foods?


Peoria, Illinois has been featured in national and regional papers recently for the restaurant, June, which opened a couple of months ago. The restaurant features selected local foods from season to season.

Do you have any restaurants in your Midwestern region that focus on local foods? We're working on developing a new website, midwesternterroir.com and would like to write some reviews/features.

Gina Edwards

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  1. Definitely add Roots to the list. Roots, in Milwaukee’s developing North End area is truely focused on local ingredients, from the freshest organic produce and cheeses to local beers. Great restaurant. Mid to upper price range. This is a wonderful place to go during the summer if you're into sitting outside and enjoying great fare while watching the Milwaukee skyline (especially at dusk!). This restaurant is divided into an upper dining room (upscale with tantalizing dishes) and the "Roots Cellar" - the less expensive lower floor that also equipped with a tremendous menu. Expect a young professional crowd on Friday and Saturday night and older, Milwaukee foodie couples on Sundays. Try the pulled pork nachos - a ritzy rendition of the dish that is perfectly sweet and spicy in flavor and aroma and draped in local white cheeses. This restaurant provides excellent food and ambiance and incorporates real Milwaukee flavor. (http://www.rootsmilwaukee.com/


    From their main page:
    "Welcome to Roots, Milwaukee's unique farmer and chef-owned restaurant....[With]unique and varying ingredients to fuel our creativity as the harvest unfolds,....Chef John Raymond orchestrates a menu celebrating the changing flavors and textures of the seasons. Each plate reflects a passion for the art of food."

    1 Reply
    1. There are many such places in Chicago. Some of the best known are North Pond ( www.northpondrestaurant.com ), Lula ( www.lulacafe.com ), Shawn McClain's three restaurants (Custom House - www.customhouse.cc Spring - www.springrestaurant.net Green Zebra - www.greenzebrachicago.com ), and Vie in Western Springs ( www.vierestaurant.com ). There are many restaurant chefs who support Chicago's local Green City Markets and its farmers and producers; you can see a complete list at www.chicagogreencitymarket.org/chefs_...

      1 Reply
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Many of the farmers in my area take their produce to the Green City Market because they can get better prices than in Peoria - I had Lula and Green Zebra on my list - thanks for the others!

      2. cool resource.
        here are a couple in Cleveland that come to mind:
        --lots of other eco friendlly things going on here


        1 Reply
        1. re: lyn

          Thank you! I haven't been to Cleveland in while - I think a roadtrip is in order!

        2. Mind Body Spirits in Rochester Hills MI does local in season, and has gotten very good press, but I haven't been yet

          3 Replies
          1. re: coney with everything

            Their menu is wonderful - and such great prices.

            1. re: and she cooks too

              I second Mind, Body and Spirits. I've been there around 6 times for either lunch, dinner or dessert. The healthiest kids menu around (and not coincidentally IMHO, the tastiest.)

            2. re: coney with everything

              I've gotta get over and try that place. They worked on that building for almost a year before opening.

            3. In St. Louis, we've been to Riddle’s Penultimate Café & Wine Bar : http://www.riddlescafe.com/ Click on "our menu" for the day's menu with descriptions of where the main ingredients come from.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Anne

                Thank you Anne - Riddle's does a wonderful job of crediting their sources.

              2. I'm not sure if these restaurants focus on local foods, but they definitely make the effort to use local produce, etc., from the Ann Arbor and greater Michigan area:

                Ann Arbor Brewing Company
                eve, the restaurant
                Beezy's Cafe
                also, A Knife's Work, a catering and take-out company

                I know there must be others, and there's been a big push lately for a lot of places to use locally. There are a lot of farms around the area that supply directly to restaurants...

                1. A few others that I am aware are making the effort include:

                  The Corn Exchange, Rapid CIty, SD
                  "K" Sioux Falls, SD
                  Heartland, St. Paul, MN
                  Alma, Minneapolis, MN
                  Devotay, Iowa City, IA
                  The Lincoln Cafe, Mt. Vernon, IA


                  1. In Cleveland these guys are also known for using farm fresh when ever they can, and are all involved at an upcoming Farmer's Market Event.
                    Bar Cento
                    Bistro 185
                    Boulevard Blue
                    CK's Steakhouse at Renaissance Quail Hollow Resort
                    Crop Bistro
                    Culinary Occasions
                    Dewey's Coffee House
                    Grovewood Tavern
                    J. Pistone Market & Gathering Place
                    La Campagna
                    Light Bistro
                    Olof's Daughter
                    Pier W
                    Sara's Place by Gavi
                    South Market Bistro
                    Stone Mad Pub
                    Table 45
                    The City Square Steakhouse
                    The Greenhouse Tavern
                    The Viking Store Cooking School
                    West Side Market Café
                    Zoss, the Swiss Baker

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: joefoodservice

                      I think Cleveland will be the next foodie destination - the chefs there are always on trend, or even ahead of it.

                      1. re: wekick

                        In Madison, WI:.
                        The Old Fashioned
                        Great Dane

                        1. re: biga290

                          Lucia's in Minneapolis. Spring is my favorite time to eat at Lucia's. Fiddleheads!

                          1. re: biga290

                            Hey! You left out two of the very best places in Madison (that both feature local and seasonal ingredients):

                            L'Etoile - www.letoile-restaurant.com
                            Fresco - www.frescomadison.com

                        2. Sheboygan WI:
                          Margaux - www.dinemargaux.com
                          Paddock Club - www.paddockclubelkhartlake.com

                          Milwaukee WI:
                          Sanford - www.sanfordrestaurant.com
                          Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro - www.lakeparkbistro.com

                          Traverse City MI:
                          Hanna - www.hannabistrobar.com

                          Grand Rapids MI:
                          Bistro Bella Vita - www.bistrobellavita.com
                          Bloom - www.bloomgr.com

                          Douglas MI:
                          Everyday People Cafe - www.everydaypeoplecafe.com

                          Indianapolis IN:
                          Oakley's - www.oakleysbistro.com
                          R Bistro - www.rbistro.com
                          Elements - www.elementsindy.com

                          Terre Haute IN:
                          ButtonWoods Restaurant at the Sycamore Farm - www.thesycamorefarm.com

                          Bloomington IN:
                          Tallent - www.restauranttallent.com

                          South Bend IN:
                          LaSalle Grill - www.lasallegrill.com

                          Fort Wayne IN:
                          Joseph Decuis - www.josephdecuis.com

                          Findlay OH:
                          Revolver - www.revolverrestaurant.net

                          I guess I travel around the Midwest a lot, since I've been to all but two of these. Although the purpose of this list is to highlight places featuring local and seasonal ingredients, it also happens to include some of the very finest restaurants in the Midwest.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            Thank you so much! A few years ago there was this push to reclaim Midwestern food - and then it died out. But the best part of eating in the Midwest - we know comfort food and we know how to eat seasonally.

                            1. re: nsxtasy

                              Yes, Tallent in Bloomington but you need to add Finch's and Farm to the list too.

                            2. Local Burger in Lawrence, Kansas. A great find!

                              1. Don't forget Marie Catrib's in Grand Rapids, MI!!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Just here for the food

                                  This place looks awesome! Thanks for mentioning it!

                                2. Also, Harvest, in St. Louis.

                                  1. The Winds, Yellow Springs OH, and Meadowlark, Centerville OH (both are near Dayton).

                                    1. I would imagine many of the restaurants in Ohio's Amish Country, mainly in Holmes, Wayne and Tuscarawas Counties, stay local for everything.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Fibber McGee

                                        The South Market Bistro in Wooster was started by a chef who worked for Parker Bosley, so they obtain as much as they can locally.

                                      2. I'd like to ask a question related to this inquiry. It seems like "local and seasonal ingredients" has become a fashionable buzzword for restauranteurs. Just because a restaurant has this on its website, how do we know to what extent they make an extra effort to support local providers where possible? And conversely, many restaurants - particularly those on the highest end of the "foodie chain" - often don't use those magic buzzwords, and in fact are sometimes very protective of their (sometimes exclusive) sources of ingredients, but may very well fit the model of local and seasonal foods; how can you make sure that such places are included as well?

                                        1. Five Lakes Grill - Milford, MI

                                          French Laundry - Fenton, Mi

                                          Mudgie's Deli - Detroit, MI

                                          1. In my (small) neck of the woods, Spring Green, WI, I would put the Spring Green Cafe & General Store and The Bank restaurant both on your list.

                                            1. I'm surprised the MSP 'Hounds haven't chimed in a little more.

                                              The first one that comes to my mind is Heartland. Restaurant Alma would also qualify, in my opinion.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                I assume that the OP wants to know about restaurants in "unexpected" or out-of-the-way places, and/or hasn't done much initial research.

                                                In the Twin Cities, there are almost too many to list. Besides, info is readily available elsewhere.

                                                For example, in this 2007 article: http://www.mspmag.com/dining/bestrest...

                                                Or via a search at EatWellGuide.org: http://eatwellguide.org/search/results
                                                (Or see pages 110-121 of the printable MN guide: http://www.eatwellguide.org/localguid... )

                                                And in several chowhound threads - like this one:


                                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                  Maybe this is the initial research. Seems pretty efficient to me so far.

                                                  1. re: JanPrimus

                                                    We wanted feedback from forums like Chow, etc. to see where you're eating and finding local influences. My background is in the tourism industry, so it'd be easy for me to call local tourism offices or visit their websites - but that's not always the best option as those organizations are membership based.

                                                    The idea for this stems from the 2007 Illinois Food and Farm Act- which reports and laments, that Illinois (like a lot of Midwestern states) imports too much of its food. A committee has been formed and the goal know is to have 20 percent of this estimated $45 billion industry keep its business within the state by 2020. This includes distribution, processing and of course, growing.

                                                    When June opened its doors in Peoria, it has received a lot of hoopla in the local and national press. I have my qualms with them - their wine list is almost all Australian when we have several vineyards in our area and the state; their fish selections are almost all seafood and there are plenty of options for fish in the Great Lakes area. Myself and the farmers at our local farmers' markets are also the first to admit that Peoria is way behind in the 'local food' movement. We're still just trying to get people to the markets and area chefs interested.

                                                    And, since 'local' and 'seasonal' are such buzzwords, it does make it a bit difficult to do a google search. By asking for feedback on a forum like this - and by the way, THANK YOU, it gives us the opportunity to research further and select restaurants for our growing site. As we look at the menus and talk to these chefs we'll be able to better set criteria for listing restaurants.

                                                    1. re: and she cooks too

                                                      Interesting twist. Your original post asked for restaurants "focusing" on local foods. But if you're looking for places that serve ONLY local ingredients ... well, you'll have a tough time finding anything in the upper Midwest.

                                                      Local fish is a legitimate issue, but I think it's unfair to judge a place by its wine list. Truth to tell, most Midwestern wines really don't hold their own in a global (or even national) contest. Even the most "hard-core" locavore restaurant in the Twin Cities, Heartland, serves wines from around the world. (Though they do have an ice wine from Minnesota, which I take to be a stellar endorsement of said wine....)

                                                      And you do realize, don't you, that salt and black pepper aren't local to the Midwest? Not to mention most other spices - and there's an extremely limited selection of fresh fruits and vegetables for many months of the year. In Minnesota, our farmer's markets don't start until May - and even then, they have only bedding plants for a few weeks. So our locavores are still existing on canned veggies, root vegetables, early chive sprouts, and meat. I don't think a restaurant would survive with such a limited menu.

                                                      But 20% local food, on the other hand, is very low bar and should be completely achievable. In any case, it's a fascinating topic - good luck with your research!


                                                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                        This is certainly an interesting concept.

                                                        The other question is how "local" is defined. For example, the Chicago area is located within an hour's drive of three other states, and many of the farmers and purveyors at our local farmers markets come from those states; however, none of their products would be included in that figure of "20 percent within the state". We're not even talking about fishmongers who drive ten hours from Lake Superior, but farmers an hour or two away, who may even have established direct relationships with restaurant chefs in the Chicago area. Close by? Yes. Local enough to meet the goals of freshness and environmental friendliness? Yes. But not "within the state".

                                                        1. re: nsxtasy

                                                          There seems to be a trend here in MN where local is the five-state area of MN, N & S DAK, WI, and IA. Some folks use 250 or 500 miles as the criteria. I think "local" is about within a day to two day's drive. Something like that.

                                                          And it's not about the original country of origin, but where the item was raised or grown. I can get local lemon grass, bok choy, cilantro, et al, as well as local emu.

                                                          1. re: green56

                                                            i think the concept of local, but not necessarily in-state, regional food systems that Nsxtasy and Green are talking about is best termed: the "local foodshed" of any given area.


                                                            more msp-area foodshed summary:

                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              Just in case anyone didn't pick up on the reason for that "20 percent" goal mentioned above, that was the standard that folks in the Illinois legislature used in the 2007 Illinois Food and Farm Act, regarding how much of the food in the state of Illinois should be grown/produced in state rather than "imported" from other states/countries. The Illinois legislature's concern, naturally, is for farmers in the state of Illinois. Thus, even though farmers in southeast Wisconsin and southwest Michigan may be less than two hours drive from Chicago, and most of us would consider their products to be local, they would not be included by this measure.

                                                              So, there's "local", and then there's "local", LOL!

                                                        2. re: AnneInMpls

                                                          actually, heartland in st. paul comes pretty durn close, i think! the winter menus featuring (brilliantly) the local keeper vegetables are amazing. lenny russo would be the first msp chef i'd interview for a project like this. the second would be lucia watkins.

                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            And after that, Lucia Watson.

                                                            (ha ha...funny MSPD)

                                                            I totally agree soupkitten. Lenny Russo's recent comment on the "Foodie File" blog (MSP Magazine) under the Pick Your Battles thread exemplifies why.

                                                            1. re: MSPD

                                                              omg. . . what was i thinking? yes of course it is ms. watSON i meant, thanks for the correction MSPD, as it's clear my brain is fried. (& if you have a link to that interview by l. russo i would be most interested)

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                It wasn't an interview...just him posting a comment to the blog. Here's the link...his comment is a few down.


                                                          2. re: AnneInMpls

                                                            “And you do realize, don't you, that salt and black pepper aren't local to the Midwest?” - AnneInMpls Apr 23, 2009 12:24AM

                                                            Cargill’s Salt Operations are headquartered in Minneapolis and Morton Salt (which was recently purchased by a German company) is headquartered in Chicago. Both with good reason – during the Cretaceous period, the Midwest was under the North American Inland Sea. Because of this, our area sits upon billions of dollars (and tons) of salt.

                                                            Companies like Cargill and Morton, dry mine or vacuum evaporate salt from numerous mines, especially in the upper Midwest around the Great Lakes. Dry mined salt results in rock salt which has limited culinary applications outside of old-fashioned ice cream makers and for serving raw oysters. Evaporated salt is used for traditional table salt.

                                                            An example is Diamond Crystal salt which is created by the Alberger Process and comes from St. Clair, MI. This salt is lighter and flakier making it popular with fast food chains and the food industry. It is available via retail as iodized table salt and kosher varieties.

                                                            Iodized salt was developed at the turn of the century specifically for people in the Midwest because our soil does not contain high enough levels of iodine. When our area primarily depended upon local food, there were high rates of hypothyroidism (goiter) due to low levels of iodine in our diets. Recent studies show that rates of hypothyroidism are starting to increase again because more people are using sea salt. Ironically, sea salt does not contain iodine even though iodine can be found naturally in kelp and seafood.

                                                            While this isn’t on the topic of local foods at restaurants, salt could be considered one of the most local commodities the Midwest has to offer.

                                                            Thank you again for everyone sharing tips and links!


                                                            1. re: and she cooks too

                                                              Wow! I had no idea that salt was (or could be) so local. I stand corrected - and more educated, now, too. Thanks!


                                                              1. re: and she cooks too

                                                                This is really interesting. I knew of the cargill mn connection but was very much surpirsed to find them operating the salt flats on the small carribean island i was lucky enough to vacation on a couple years ago.

                                                                This though makes me wonder if there is any way to know how much of the salt sold by these local midwestern companies is shipped here from far-flung places.

                                                    2. In Bloomington, IN:

                                                      Tallent and Finch's are obsessive on the subject.
                                                      Farm is very good.
                                                      Limestone is starting to use more and more local produce and meats.
                                                      Laughing Planet does a good job (for a burrito joint).

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        Not sure you can say Farm is doing that as they do a lot of mango, guava, etc. which I dont think grow in Indiana or anywhere near by.

                                                        1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                                          As far as I can tell, this thread is about restaurants that are trying to showcase local ingredients, not restaurants that eschew all non-local ingredients. Be that as it may, Farm does not "do a lot of mango, guava, etc.) There's a little bit once in a while, but they're as local as their salt and pepper.

                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            Can't imagine not having citrus fruits, coffee, chocolate.....

                                                            1. re: wekick

                                                              Should you just have to have these type of items, and I can't live w/o my coffee - purchase fair trade products vs. buying items from large conglomerates, say like Chaquita banannas.

                                                              With fair trade items the original farmer gets a much larger share of the amount due him/her.

                                                              And use less oranges and/or save for special occasions.

                                                              Small, simple modifications. Like go 70/30%... And gradually increase the 30% local to a higher percent YOU are comfortable with in your day-to-day life.

                                                              I fall off the Locavore wagon all the time. But at least I'm trying. Basically it's more about being aware than anything, I think. For example, when I'm too lasy to go to the Co-Op for my WI un- or only slightly homogienized, whole milk I buy Schroeder's which is a large dairy in MN. I'm still local, but not as left-wing local. LOL!

                                                              1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                                                                There are no hard and fast rules, but for me: If you're serving asparagus from Chile in October when you could be serving perfectly good local broccoli, you're not cooking locally.

                                                        2. A couple places you might not otherwise hear about:

                                                          Angry Trout and Chez Jude in Grand Marais, MN.
                                                          Canoe Bay (not a restaurant per se) in Chetek, WI.

                                                          All three are very much worth the trip.

                                                          1. McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe in Omaha uses local foods whenever possible.

                                                            1. Interesting thread; already spotted some places to try when traveling. Not a comprehensive list for Cincinnati, but two worthy mentions:

                                                              Slims (http://slimsrestaurant.com/), which serves a lot of produce from chef Patrick McCafferty’s own micro-farm, Ohio Maiden (as in “made in Ohio”) and offers periodic “Ohio Maiden” dinners.

                                                              Nectar, which in addition to its regular seasonally and locally driven menu offers monthly “dinner clubs” where chef Julie Francis partners with a local purveyor and uses a featured ingredient (spinach, basil, garlic, beets, etc.) in each of 5 courses. Although Nectar’s website (http://dineatnectar.com/) is not current re: the dinner club offerings, they’re delicious, convivial, and thanks to the opportunity to meet the farmers who provided the beets (http://www.walnutridgeacres.com/), I now have a great source for antiobiotic-free chickens plus local greens even in the winter (can’t wait to check out their warm weather offerings too).

                                                              1. St. Louis: the upscale restaurant, Franco, is across the street from the Soulard Market - a farmers market that started in the 19th Century. They use local food - all they have to do is walk across the street...


                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Doug

                                                                  The Holly Hotel (it's a restaurant, not a hotel) does several theme dinners
                                                                  throughout the year that focus on locally grown items. It is located in Holly, MI.
                                                                  South of Flint, MI.

                                                                2. There are plenty of restaurants in the St. Louis area that focus on using local ingredients and farmers.

                                                                  The two "locavore" grand dames of the St. Louis local dining scene are Riddles and Harvest. Andy Ayers of Riddles has even started a distribution company for local farm produce. Here's a brief rundown of St. Louis restaurants that focus on the farm to table:

                                                                  Erato on Main
                                                                  Edwardsville, IL

                                                                  Maplewood, IL

                                                                  Sidney Street Cafe


                                                                  Schlafy Taproom

                                                                  Schlafy Bottleworks




                                                                  Cardwell's at the Plaza


                                                                  Chaumette Winery
                                                                  St. Genevieve, MO

                                                                  Annie Gunn's

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: and she cooks too

                                                                      One thing I'm finding as I become MN Locavore (my name on other forums) cilantro, exotic peppers, etc., CAN be local. We've a large population of Hmong immigrents in the Twin Cities area and there's a concept going now where these people are being taught to farm. And CSAs are becoming very big here and we are now able to get local lemon grass even.

                                                                      "Seasonal" plays a big part up here. To be a true locavore and eat jalapenos one must only eat them in our season unless one preserved them in some way for year-round consuption.

                                                                      I suppose a true locavore would only eat seasonal foods that are indiginous to an approximate 250 radial area. But, I'm going the route local is local, at least as far as vegetables.

                                                                      So one can still go exotic and still be a locavore. This is what I've always heard, "Go local/organic; then go local, then go organic" when 'voting' with one's food dollars.

                                                                      Have you contacted Edible Twincities? It's a magazine all about local. I bet they could help you.

                                                                      I'll Google what I'm talking about regarding this new iniative regarding teaching immigrents to farm as I'm not explaining what I mean very well - unless someone beats me to it and gives you the info.

                                                                      Hope this is some help to you. Bet it just muddies the waters more! LOL!

                                                                      1. re: green56

                                                                        Check these out. Hope they help!


                                                                        This is the program I was talking about: http://www.mnproject.org/food-heartla...

                                                                        The reason I mention it is because many of the TC's restaurants are buying from programs such as this. MN, depending so heavily on agriculture, is - in my opinion - on the cutting edge of local restaurants using locally grown, sustainable farm goods.

                                                                  1. Sycamore in Columbia, MO

                                                                    1. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Cleveland. We have a number of restaurants that are committed to local sourcing, although not exclusively.

                                                                      The newly opened Greenhouse Tavern (Chef Jonathon Sawyer) is probably at the forefront, and will have its own rooftop garden (that's as local as you can get).

                                                                      Also, Restaurant Fire (Chef Doug Katz), Moxie (Chef Jonathon Bennett), Lola and Lolita (Chef Michael Symon), Light Bistro (Chef Matt Mathlage) and Crop Bistro (Chef Steve Schimoler) also use local/sustainable products whenever possible.

                                                                      Fire Food & Drink
                                                                      13220 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120

                                                                      2058 East 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                                                                      Moxie Restaurant
                                                                      3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

                                                                      Light Bistro
                                                                      2801 Bridge Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113

                                                                      900 Literary Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

                                                                      The Greenhouse Tavern
                                                                      2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

                                                                      Crop Bistro & Bar
                                                                      1400 W. 6th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

                                                                      1. Food Dance Cafe http://www.fooddance.net/pages_/home.cfm
                                                                        in Kalamazoo, MI serves local food in a lovely atmosphere.

                                                                        1. There's a old grocery store on the Southside of Des Moines that was awarded the Best Deli Sandwich in Des Moines, Iowa. Plus, their breaded pork tenderloin is pretty famous around Des Moines. It's Called B&B Grocery and has been opened forever. It's almost like walking in time, everyone is so nice and the deli food will make you smile.

                                                                          B&B Grocery
                                                                          Des Moines

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. In Columbus, Ohio: Black Creek Bistro

                                                                            Black Creek Bistro
                                                                            692 Oak St, Columbus, OH 43215