Pandemic Pick: At What Restaurant Did You Find the Best Outdoor Eating Experience? | Food + Drink Features | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Pandemic Pick: At What Restaurant Did You Find the Best Outdoor Eating Experience?

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The deck at Waterworks Food + Drink - COURTESY OF EVAN WILLIAMS
  • Courtesy of Evan Williams
  • The deck at Waterworks Food + Drink

With outdoor dining, it's all about the views. Waterworks Food + Drink serves up a so-close-you-almost-need-a-rain-poncho view of the Winooski River from its plant-filled patio. "It's just beautiful there!" said one diner. For the past year, the restaurant experience was all about safety, too. Waterworks delivered on that front with streamlined takeout, strict social distancing and free weekly grocery pickup for employees when the restaurant was temporarily closed. "We have a great staff that raises the bar," owner David Abdoo told Seven Days in November. "They're my No. 1 concern." (Winooski • waterworksvt.com)

The Great Northern and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery kept the doors shut to their adjacent indoor spaces throughout the pandemic, but the combined businesses' walk-up window was open rain, snow or shine for takeout and outdoor dining. Customers bundled up (or donned beer jackets) to enjoy coffee and waffles, pints and Detroit-style Coney dogs, or ramen and cocktails on an expanded patio, warmed with hefty hockey-rink-style heaters. "Even when it was 10 degrees out!" one Seven Days reader exclaimed. "[They] installed heaters so people could dine safely outside," said another. "Very badass!" (Burlington • thegreatnorthernvt.com, zerogravitybeer.com)

On the patio at Great Northern - FILE: JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • On the patio at Great Northern

American Flatbread Burlington Hearth: A banner hung outside the restaurant read "Love. Be Kind. Keep Each Other Well." Convivial diners kept that advice in mind as they enjoyed fireside flatbreads on the patio. (Burlington • americanflatbread.com)

Black Flannel Brewing & Distilling: The expansive brewery, distillery and pub opened in the Essex Experience during the pandemic and doubled down on outdoor seating. Diners ate veggies cooked on a wood-fired Argentine grill on the front patio and listened to live music while enjoying beer and snacks in the biergarten out back. (Essex Junction • blackflannel.com)

Leunig's Bistro & Café: The bistro's outdoor dining on the Church Street Marketplace has always been popular, but it was busy all summer as diners opted for the great outdoors. Chef/owner Donnell Collins said guests braved the elements during the winter holidays, too, bundling up in snow gear to sit under the patio's gas-flamed lanterns. (Burlington • leunigsbistro.com)

The Spot on the Dock: The seasonal lakeside bar and restaurant let patrons soak up the sun and the waterfront views — along with mimosas for the table, local beers, burgers and fish tacos — from mid-May through the end of September. It's a must-visit for summertime sips. (Burlington • spotonthedock.com)

Editor note: To choose Vermont's Pandemic All-Stars, we surveyed our readers on the people, places and programs that kept them going — and going — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Space limitations prevented us from recognizing every pick worthy of public praise."