To taste the freshest produce in the region, you can shop one of the city’s many farmers market, haul your selections back home, and crack open a cookbook. Or you can take the effortless route, and settle into an outdoor-optional seat at one of these top farm-to-table restaurants in Philadelphia.
Uniquely positioned between ‘Jersey Fresh’ territory and Amish Country, Philly offers its chefs an impressive variety of local, seasonal ingredients from which to craft their award-winning menus. And diners will be excited to know that much of this produce makes its way from farm to plate just one day after harvesting. Yes, the peppery radishes and buttery greens in your appetizer salad may have been plucked from the dirt just hours ago.
While reality TV chefs prove their mettle by whipping up a meal on the spot, much more advance planning and preparation goes into seasonal dishes served at local hotspots, so not a single ingredient gets overlooked. “We plan ahead, even before ingredients are in season, so we can take full advantage of them,” explains Gregg Ciprioni, Chef de Cuisine at Garces Trading Company. And the taste rewards are impressive, says Ciprioni, who calls the local produce “indescribably better than anything in the supermarket.” When dining out in Philly—perhaps during Philadelphia Restaurant Week on January 20-25 & January 27- February 1, 2013—look for menus that change as new crops are harvested and unique seasonal ingredients become available.
You’ll dine with the windows open at this tiny West Philadelphia BYOB that features local, organic produce on its Mediterranean menu. (20th Street at Spruce Street, 215.731.1222)
This restaurant offers delicious French comfort food that mixes European flair with local ingredients, and plenty of sidewalk tables. (1126 Walnut Street, 215.625.9535)
Garces Trading Company This hotspot, from celebrity check Jose Garces, offers casual, sit-down dining, plus a gourmet market filled with local and imported foods to take home. (1111 Locust Street, 215.574.1099)
Mercato This Italian American BYOB restaurant’s name echoes its mission: to use local market ingredients at the peak of freshness. (1216 Spruce Street, 215.985.BYOB)
Square 1682 The first LEED-certified restaurant in Philadelphia offers a menu packed with eco-conscious and organic ingredients, including free-range meats and sustainable seafood. (121 South 17th Street, 215.563.5008)
Photo: G. Widman for GPTMC