In a chef’s quest for hyper-local ingredients, almost nothing beats a local farm. And in western Pennsylvania, there are lots to choose from, with dozens of small, independent farms offering vegetables, herbs, and fruits, all grown within a 100-mile radius of the city.
But for some chefs (who have the means and the space to do so), growing their own micro-gardens is a great option for ensuring that they get any of the extra-special ingredients and produce varieties they’ll need for seasonal dishes and special menu items.
Here are just a few of the Pittsburgh restaurants that make it a point to grow their own.
In the lot next to Spork in Garfield, you’ll find the Spork Garden, a lot-sized plot filled with an impressive array of herbs and lettuces. Used primarily to create infusions and garnishes for Spork’s extensive cocktail menu, the restaurant also uses select produce at both Spork and Spork Pit, their BBQ spot located across the street.
Farmer x Baker
Farmer x Baker, a seasonally-inspired cafe is owned and operated by farmer Jen Urich, who also runs Root & Heart Farm. Located at the Aspinwall Riverfront Park, the cafe uses Root & Heart produce to create an ever-changing menu of seasonal delights, like salads using local greens, vegetable rolls, and breakfast arepas.
Sonja Finn’s Dinette is known for its sustainable practices (they’re earned a Platinum Plate distinction from Sustainable Pittsburgh) and their incredible pizzas. And they’re also known for their 75-container rooftop garden, located directly above the restaurant. The garden provides all of Dinette’s slicing tomatoes, plus herbs, arugula, figs, shishito peppers, eggplant, broccoli, beans, cucumbers, and melons from May through November.
The Cafe at the Frick
The Cafe at the Frick, the restaurant on the Frick’s grounds, uses a wide variety of vegetables and flowers that are grown on the property at their very own greenhouse. The greenhouse was rebuilt based on the property’s original 1897 structure, and the Frick has partnered with the community group Grow Pittsburgh to help maintain it.