The phrase "farm to table" has become a hot button used by restaurants to promote their menus. Many make the claim, but few can fulfill it truthfully, especially in Dallas, where the growing season and range of viable crops are limited. Pineapple or raspberry on your plate? No. Onions and turnips? Yes.
No Dallas restaurant is entirely farm-to-table, but some are making a noble effort. These are the best.
This Oak Cliff jewel was a go-local pioneer when it opened in 2008, so far ahead of the curve that it's almost easy to forget its efforts. The chefs have changed over the years, but the restaurant continues to follow that path. Its menu has Dallas and Texas all over the place: vegetables from Tassione Farms, arugula from Eden Farms, cheese from Latte Da Dairy, and more.
Although the primary mission of this downtown Dallas restaurant is its program to train at-risk teens and young adults, it also goes big on local sourcing. Produce comes from Paul Quinn Farm, the student-run organic farm located on the former football field at Paul Quinn College, as well as Bonton Farms. You can taste the fruits of their efforts on dishes such as Local Yocal steak with Hollandaise sauce and broccoli rabe.
The farm-to-table focus here goes back to before the days when the phrase or concept was cool, and Celebration was just a humble, hippie type place that had a lot of vegetables. Its menu of home-cooking basics includes local grass-fed beef and some local produce items like zucchini, and there is often Texas fruit in the cobbler.
Design District restaurant comes up often as a farm-to-table place, in no small part due to chef Matt McCallister's well-known foraging expeditions. It's probably unlikely that he caught the charred octopus on his menu himself, but the FT33 kitchen does localize a lot of what it does in hard labor like smoking and curing its meats. And lookie there, both onions and turnips get prominent play, as well as winter squash.
Charming East Dallas spot serves breakfast and lunch, with some of the ingredients sourced from its own organic garden. Chef Mark Wootton fills out the rest with ground beef from 44 Farms, eggs from the Good Egg, greens from Eat the Yard, milk from Mill King, peppers and tomatoes from Bonton Farms, okra from Martinez farms, quail from Texas Quail farms, not to mention regular trips to the Dallas Farmers Market. His list is long.
McKinney restaurant starring chef Andrea Shackelford shows its commitment by providing a list of its purveyors on its website. It's a who's who of local sourcing, from Empire Baking Co. to Luscombe Farm of Anna. Those ingredients are put to good use on seasonal dishes such as the salad with baby spinach, figs, smoked mozzarella, and candied pecans. The restaurant follows a philosophy of asking where was it grown, how was it raised, and can it be recycled.
Patina Green Market
McKinney is a farm-to-table paradise, with this market-restaurant from foodies Kaci and Robert Lyford. They buy directly from local farmers, and like their neighbor Harvest, name those farmers on their website, along with a list of what they buy: meat from Local Yocal, produce from Johnson's, cheese from Full Quiver, cookies from Wackym's, and more. They serve lunch Tuesday-Sunday, and chefs tasting dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, with five courses for $45 person, by reservation only.
Prime Farm to Table
Way out in the 'burbs of Flower Mound, chef-owner Chris Flahaven is pushing the envelope as hard as he can for sourcing locally grown, sustainably produced food. Local ingredients include produce from JBG Organics and chicken from Windy Meadow Farms. He's so seasonal, he changes his menu every day, with dishes such as 44 Farms rib-eye with fingerling potatoes and braised JBG Farms kale.
The hotel restaurant at the Omni Dallas is a casual restaurant with a buffet available at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Buffets don't generally give off a gourmet vibe, but Texas Spice has a secret: Many of its ingredients are from local farms. Chef Jan Loov goes local whenever he can, getting his produce from Red Moon Farm in the East Texas town of Van, his beef from 44 Farms, and his catches from the Gulf. Cheeses are from Texas, sausages are house-made, and so is the barbecue sauce.