You may have heard buzzwords like "locally sourced," "sustainable," and "organic" on the Twin Cities restaurant scene lately. Those aren't extraneous adjectives tacked on by advertisers to attract attention; they're a statement about a venue's whole philosophy on food. Environmental politics aside, the fact is that the closer a menu's ingredients are to the place they were grown, the better tasting your meal will be. We've compiled a list of establishments that aim to shorten the distance between farm and table, ultimately ensuring a long-lasting, thriving restaurant scene that makes you feel as good about eating out as it would about a wholesome home-cooked meal.
• Aster Café: This St. Anthony Main cornerstone is known first and foremost for its popular summertime patio, but the food at the Aster Café is what will keep you coming back no matter the season. The Aster offers mouthwatering breakfast and brunch, weekly taco night, daily happy hour specials, tea-infused cocktails and artisan pizzas all in one place. Indie musicians from the Twin Cities and beyond delight diners on the regular, adding class and sophistication to the already intimate venue.
• Bachelor Farmer: Located in the North Loop, this locavore’s haven is run by the Dayton brothers. The menu, which changes daily, features Nordic cuisine made from local and organic ingredients, as well whole-animal butchery. In other words: no lutefisk.
• Common Roots Café: This mecca of homegrown grub is ideal for the casual or solo locavore diner. Orders are placed at the counter and served either indoors or out. This innovative eatery is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night, making it an Uptown mainstay for Minnesotans.
• Heartland: When you think "farmers' market," contemporary and creative aren’t often adjectives that come to mind. This new-ish downtown St. Paul venue aims to change that notion with its chef-driven menu and fresh takes on upscale fare. Regional cheeses and plates indigenous to the Upper Midwest, such as rainbow trout, are highlights of this restaurant and food lovers' emporium.
• Wise Acre Eatery: This cute Tangletown venue strives to be the "shortest distance between the Earth, the hand, and the mouth." With a seasonal menu featuring organic items from the owners’ 100-acre farm in Plato, Minn., you can dine assured that the beef is grass-fed and the chickens are free-range.
Erica Rivera is the author of the memoir "Insatiable" and the e-cookbook "Man Eater." She is the co-owner of the Twin Cities mobile bakery MILF and Cookies and blogs at crazysexydelicious.com.