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Restaurants support local growers
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Sunday, March 25, 2012    |   
212 Market's house-made spinach ravioli includes Bonnie Blue Farm goat cheese in the filling, plus local backyard eggs and spinach from Wildwood Farm.
212 Market's house-made spinach ravioli includes Bonnie Blue Farm goat cheese in the filling, plus local backyard eggs and spinach from Wildwood Farm.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

Buying and eating local food is one way to honor the workers, growers and entrepreneurs in and around Chattanooga.

Local means grown or raised within 100 miles of Chattanooga. An increasing number of restaurants are using local ingredients, working with farmers to acquire the freshest vegetables, grass-fed beef, farm-raised fish and artisan-made cheeses, breads and pastries. Here are a few that do.

212 Market

212 Market St., 423-265-1212.

212 Market recently celebrated 20 years at the forefront of the green and local food movement in Chattanooga. "We were raised to appreciate local foods," said Sally Moses. "It connects us with our community. We know that local food is very honest." Local eggs, she said, make the cakes lighter and the breads more attractive. "It means a lot to us that it's not just something out of a box."

Bluff View Art District

Includes Back Inn Cafe, Rembrandt's Coffee House and Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria, all located near the intersection of High and East Second streets. 423-265-5033.

Using herbs from the Bluff View herb garden, as well as working with local farmers and producers, allows for better quality control, said Michele Kephardt, director of marketing for the Bluff View Arts District.

Famous Nater's

This food truck can be found downtown and on the Southside on rotating days. Check famousnaters.com for the weekly schedule. 423-596-5457.

Nathan Flynt, owner of Famous Nater's food truck, shops at the Chattanooga Market during the season and visits local farms to acquire ingredients.

"[Local ingredients] taste better," he said. "Our farmers in Chattanooga take such good care of the animals they're raising and the plants they're growing."

He is also motivated as a small business owner, he said, to support other small businesses. "This is a local economy. We can grow together."

La Cabriole

1341 Burgess Road, 423-821-0350.

When she uses local ingredients, food "is the best tasting, the freshest and the most nutritious," said Geraldine Charton, owner of La Cabriole French restaurant. Her menu changes to reflect the produce she is able to find locally, the most recently picked, the better. "When vegetables come out of the ground that morning, you don't really have to use that much seasoning." During the growing season, she visits Crabtree Farms and shops at Greenlife, Earth Fare and Fresh Market. "I do check to see where it's coming from."

Lupi's

Locations: 406 Broad St., 423-266-5874; 1414 Jenkins Rd., 423-855-4104; 5506 Hixson Pike, Hixson, 423-847-3700.

The circle of life philosophy stands at Lupi's Pizza, located in several spots around the greater Chattanooga area. "We compost all of our vegetables and anything we can," said general manager Tom Maynard, "and it goes back up to the farm to feed the pigs that we end up getting ground sausage from." Lupi's works with Sequatchie Cove and Flying Turtle Farms, as well as Sonrisa Farms for their flour. The price isn't always quite right -- "it's a lot more expensive for us to do that," said Maynard -- but the outcome makes all the difference -- "but we feel in the long run it works out better for the community and for the taste of everything."

St. John's/Meeting Place/Alleia

St. John's/Meeting Place, 1278 Market St., 423-266-4400; Alleia, 25 East Main St., 423-475-6324.

James Beard Foundation-nominated-chef Daniel Lindley is a Chattanooga native and the chef and co-owner of all three restaurants. St. John's features a fine dining experience, The Meeting Place offers small plates and Alleia welcomes guests for an Italian experience. All pasta is prepared in house, and menus specify ingredients from lettuce to sausage acquired from local farms.