THE HOT FIVE
Eat locally at one of these Midwestern-minded
COMMON ROOTS CAFE
A casual, counter-service operation that demonstrates how "local foods" and "expensive" don't have to be attached at the hip. Owner Danny Schwartzman is so committed to the cause that he documents his purchases on the restaurant's website; in May 2008, for example, 54 percent of the kitchen's ingredients came from local sources.
2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360
What a cool idea: This funky, vegetarian- and vegan-friendly Lyn-Lake pizzeria partners with Harmony Valley in Viroqua, Wis., for its CSA Pizza ($12.55 to $18.90), which is topped with whatever seasonal, just-picked produce is coming off the farm that week.
2917 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-9100
This is how deep chef/owner Lenny Russo plunges into the local foods front: If it isn't produced in the Midwest (olive oil, for example), it doesn't make it into his kitchen. The imaginative menu changes daily, reflecting changes in seasonal availability. Check out the daily meat/fish ($40) and vegetarian ($30) three-course menu options, as well as the wine bar's less formal menu and setting.
1806 St. Clair Av., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, heartlandrestaurant.com
NGON VIETNAMESE BISTRO
Chef/co-owner Hai Truong takes his French-Vietnamese restaurant in a direction few other Asian restaurants follow: He buys superior locally raised meats (chicken, pork, duck, beef, rabbit) and puts them to good use, putting out plates that look as good as they taste.
799 W. University Av., St. Paul, 651-222-3301, ngonbistro.com
RED STAG SUPPERCLUB
Chef Bill Baskin pays homage to supper-club fare, but makes it modern (and delicious) by relying upon beautiful made-in-the-Midwest ingredients: smelt, perch, bluegill and other freshwater lovelies for his fabulous Friday night fish fry, distinctive grains for the waffles, pancakes and oatmeal he serves at weekend brunch.
509 1st Av. NE., Mpls., 612-767-7766, redstagsupperclub.com