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Dining on a Dime: Mule Bar


Published December 22, 2020 at 1:16 p.m.

Moscow Mule and Rodeo Burger from Mule Bar - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Moscow Mule and Rodeo Burger from Mule Bar
There was no guru at our little solstice supper, and no candles, chants or dance. We faced the darkness with the basics: a burger and booze.

These we procured from Mule Bar in Winooski, where the Main Street bar has a half-price burger special every Monday. Also on Mondays, a Moscow Mule is $5.

Not long before the sun slipped away Monday afternoon, I called Mule Bar to ask about the burger deal.  It's the Rodeo Burger, I was told.

“What’s on it?” I asked.

“Swiss cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce,” the man on the phone said.

“Holy shit!” I interrupted, before he had a chance to top off the ingredient list with crispy onions and mushrooms.

“It’s got everything," he said. "It's big: Six ounces of meat.”

Troy (by now I knew the phone guy’s name) directed me to Mule Bar’s website, where he said I'd find a photograph of the Rodeo Burger. "That was my lunch today," he said.

I hung up and checked the photo of Troy’s lunch. The picture — and that melty Swiss — clinched it. A medium rare version would be my supper ($7), along with a 16-ounce Moscow Mule of vodka, lime and Rookie’s ginger beer ($5).

I ordered online and picked up our food (my daughter chose chicken wings) a couple of hours after the sun went down. At the bar, I learned that Troy is a co-owner of  the business, though I knew him only as a gung-ho describer and eater of a Rodeo Burger.

I drove home with our food, my drink nestled safely in the cup-holder. On the shortest day of the year, we wasted no time pulling our meals from their takeout containers and digging in. The burger was the desired pink, the barbecue sauce sweet and tangy, the Moscow Mule potent. Crispy onion rings tumbling from my cheeseburger were an early Christmas present. 

Mule Bar is open daily for takeout business. The Monday deal is one of three nights a week you can eat and drink for 10 or 12 bucks (or less). Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, with $3 tacos and a $5 Mexican mule (made with tequila). Wednesday is whiskey-wiener Wednesday, with $2 corn dogs and a $5 Kentucky mule (bourbon or rye).

“In general right now, if we can sell someone a $5 cheeseburger, we’re going to go for it,” Troy Levy, Mule Bar co-owner and general manager, told me.

Monday evening, I called a friend who turned 88 on the winter solstice. I wished Ted Hoagland happy birthday and said I had a big question for him.

“Thousands of years ago,” I laid it on him, “what did people do on the winter solstice?”

Ted laughed, and ventured an answer: “They were terrified,” he said. “They didn’t know if the sun would return.”

And they didn’t have a big plastic cup of vodka and soda to ease the pain — slurpable by compostable straw.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: [email protected].

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