In this often referenced scene from the IFC show Portlandia, a couple sits down to dine and spends several minutes quizzing their server on the origin of the chicken, the conditions in which it was raised, and what the chicken ate (local hazelnuts?) The server then shows the diners pictures of the chicken, tells them its name, and assures them that it is, of course, local, organic, and free range.
While we may not take it quite to this extreme, many diners in Olympia are invested in and concerned about the origin of their food. Whether motivated to support local farms and the local economy, to consume the healthiest available product, or to savor the freshest, most gourmet ingredients possible, Thurston County diners care about where their food comes from. Fortunately, we have excellent options for choosing to dine at restaurants that serve local ingredients.
Our Table is located in downtown Olympia and is all about serving up locally grown and raised fare. Chef and co-owner Brad Thompson says, “At Our Table, we try to source as much as possible locally, and the things we can’t get within Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties, we go out of our way to buy Washington State products. This starts with the Olympia Farmers Market where we purchase from The Fresh Approach, Stony Plains Organic Farm, Rising River Farm, Calliope Farm, Pigman’s Produce, and Johnson’s Berry Farm. We also buy our seafood exclusively from The Olympia Seafood Company, and our oysters and clams from Hama Hama Shellfish Farm. Additionally, we make purchases from Jay’s Farmstand, do some ‘chef-foraging’ for mushrooms, miner’s lettuce, mint, berries, and work with a professional forager for some really great items.” Our Table embodies farm to table dining, from their regular breakfast and lunch menu to their ever-changing dinner menu.
Menu Pick – Hang Town Fry with fried Hama Hama oysters, scrambled eggs, greens, onion and Our Table bacon served with breakfast potatoes.
Chef Joel Hart’s newest venture, Hart’s Mesa serves up Latin-inspired breakfasts and lunches utilizing local ingredients. Their menu features masa and tortillas from Jalisco Tortilla Company in Shelton, seafood from The Olympia Seafood Company, meat from Home Meat Service in Shelton and produce from Best Family Farms in Chehalis. Hart’s Mesa is now open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.
Menu Pick – Chipotle Benedict: grilled masa cakes with shredded pork, poached eggs, and chipotle hollandaise sauce.
This downtown Olympia coffee shop-bar-music venue-restaurant changes their food menu, décor, and cocktail menu seasonally. The Obsidian menu features Nisqually Tribe smoked salmon, sauerkraut from Olykraut, Magic Kombucha, bread from Blue Heron Bakery, and pastries from San Francisco Street Bakery. They also purchase seasonal ingredients from local vendors to feature in their specials, such as local mushrooms in the spring and fall. The bar carries a rotating list of beer and cider, featuring the finest craft breweries and cideries in Washington along with Northwest wines and spirits and the café serves up Stumptown Coffee from Portland.
Menu Pick – Nisqually sandwich, made with local smoked salmon, garlic aioli, chèvre and fresh fennel.
Bread Peddler and Bistro
Bread Peddler and Bistro is a downtown Olympia restaurant reminiscent of Europe. The Bread Peddler sources seasonal produce from Calliope Farm, Kirsop Farm, Rising River Farm, Pigman’s Produce, and Wobbly Cart Farm. All of their bread and pastries are made in store, of course, and they use Washington-grown wheat. Many of their breads are made with a levain, using the wild yeasts in the air. It doesn’t get much more local than that.
Menu Pick – Quiche of the day, made with seasonal vegetables.
Three Magnets Brewing
Three Magnets Brewing Company is a sandwich shop, brewery, and an excellent restaurant all rolled in to one. You can also find long time Olympia favorite Darby’s Cafe housed in the same building. All of these options, in one convenient location, offer northwest-inspired meals made with local ingredients, and of course plenty of local beer. To keep their menu fresh and seasonal, Three Magnets changes their menu throughout the year. The restaurants feature ingredients from Tunawerth Creamery, greens and seasonal produce from Wobbly Cart Farm, as well as house made bread, Washington-raised beef and of course local beer.
Menu Pick: 3mag burger, served on house bun with Washington-raised beef, Oregon bacon, Tunawerth Creamery Gouda, and Wobbly Cart greens.
Don Juan’s Mexican Kitchen
Soon Olympia will have a new locally-minded restaurant, as Tenino’s Don Juan’s Mexican Kitchen aims to open their West Olympia location this July. Don Juan’s sources many of their ingredients locally including all of the meat from from Stewart’s Meat Market. They frequently carry local grass-fed options, and seasonally source local produce. “When we can get grass-fed, we get grass-fed. Everything is natural. Our chicken isn’t pumped with antibiotics. Our produce, when we can, we get locally. We try to do as much local as possible,” says Juan Martinez.
Menu Pick – Carne asada, locally-sourced marinated grilled skirt steak served with rice, refried beans, shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo and flour tortillas.
In Thurston County we are lucky to be surrounded by productive, sustainable farmland. As more and more consumers are requesting locally-sourced ingredients, restaurants are taking note and serving up delectable farm-to-table fare. Choose from one of these local restaurants for an excellent locally-sourced meal. Bon appétit!