Hungry? You’ve got a lot of options in Vermont. There’s much more to local cuisine than five-for-one deals on Ramen noodles at Price Chopper or chicken-tender night at the dining hall. The Burlington area boasts a booming food scene, complete with year-round farmers’ markets, award-winning restaurants and awesome artisan products.
Like cheese. Vermont’s got 34 artisan cheesemakers, the highest number per-capita in the country. Translation: Our cheese rocks. Our dairy experts handcraft cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo yogurts, cheeses and butters, many of which have won national awards. We’ve got lots of handmade jams, pickles, ice cream, granola and freshly brewed root beer. Mmm.
Weather permitting, fresh produce is plentiful here, too. Burlington’s home to a nationally known collection of urban organic farms known as the Intervale. It used to be a municipal dump, but was turned into farmland in the 1980s. Now, the area on the banks of the Winooski River produces 10 percent of the city’s food. You’ll find products from the Intervale (and other local farms) at grocery stores, and at the Burlington Farmers’ Market, which is weekly during the summer and monthly in winter. Here in Vermont, we’ve even got a special name for people who try to eat mostly foods grown nearby — localvores. Why eat local? Think about shipping products cross-country with current gas prices. Ouch. And there’s that global warming thing, too.
The greater Burlington area also boasts plenty of places to eat, from greasy spoons to gourmet spots. We’ve listed our recommendations for where to chow down if your folks are in town or if you’re on a date.
As you’re chewing on our recommendations, keep these things in mind:
- From time to time, it’s good to expand your culinary horizons. Try a veggie, type of seafood or cuisine you’ve never had before — by now you’ve learned that your parents don’t know it all, and that goes for food, too.
- Cheap isn’t everything. Sometimes it’s worth saving up, dressing up and eating somewhere nice.
- What you eat is important. Your choices affect your health and the local economy, so think before you bite.
ON A DATE:
There’s nothing sexier than swooning over shared plates with your favorite hottie. In Burlington, one of the best places to do it is The Green Room. The restaurant offers small and medium plates as well as traditional entrées, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Lobster risotto, smoked duck quesadillas and Black Angus sliders? Yeah, baby. Eat in the dining room, or sink into a comfy chair in the lounge.
- Trattoria Delia: Cozy downtown location, excellent service and classic Italian fare add up to romanza.
- Asiana House: Canoodle over maki rolls or sashimi on a busy Burlington corner. Seafood’s an aphrodisiac, you know.
- Dobrá Tea: Burlington’s Bohemian teahouse with funky staffers, 70+ loose-leaf teas and sweet treats to nibble on.
- Chef’s Corner: Date went well so far? End the a.m. on a good note, with eggs Benedict and lemon tarts in Williston.
WITH YOUR FOLKS
Cured meats, cheese-stuffed squash blossom fritters and better-than-it-sounds basil ice cream are just some of the tasty treats at
L’Amante, a classy, Italian restaurant near the center of town. Don’t expect standard spaghetti and meatballs here. Instead, you’ll find tender gnocchi, risotto and perfectly prepared duck, pork and seafood entrées.
- Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill: Vermont products and award-winning, young chefs in Waterbury. ’Nuff said.
- A Single Pebble: Authentic Chinese. No, really. Try the mock eel and the dry-fried green beans.
- The Bearded Frog: Upscale pub fare and creative comfort food that runs the gamut from tofu to filet mignon in Shelburne.
- American Flatbread - Burlington Hearth: Like pizza, but hipper. Toppings are local and super-fresh.
WHEN YOU’VE GOT A $10 BILL AND WANT SOMETHING AWESOME
At Big Fatty’s BBQ on Main Street, the beef brisket, baked beans and collard greens are stellar, but the smoked chicken is to-die-for. And it’s the only place in town where you can eat at an actual pig trough. Please note: If you’re a vegan and you show up here, you’ll be in for some, um . . . ribbing.
- New World Tortilla: A couple of UVM grads own this burrito biz in Burlington and Essex. Don’t miss the Thai chicken wrap with peanut ginger sauce and slaw.
- Pho anything: Four Vietnamese restaurants — Pho Dang, Pho Hong, Vietnam Restaurant and M-Saigon — offer big, inexpensive bowls of pho, a hearty noodle soup.
- The Skinny Pancake: Crêpe heaven on the Burlington Waterfront. The “Love Maker” features Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream.
- Sadie Katz Delicatessen: Get your pastrami on downtown at the area’s only Jewish deli. There’s lox, latkes and liver.
SHOULDN’T YOU BE SLEEPING?
At Junior’s Downtown — the Burlington offshoot of a successful Colchester restaurant — you can order up everything from meaty Italian subs to vegetarian, Mediterranean pizzas to éclairs and cannoli. Open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
In Burlington, also try:
- Nectar’s: Pulled pork sandwiches, juicy burgers and famous gravy fries until 2:30 a.m.
- Kountry Kart Deli (KKD): The city’s hottest spot for nighttime nosh is known for its hot and cold sandwiches.
- Kevin’s Wicked Mountain Dogs: Satisfy late-nite cravings with a Hebrew National dog ’n’ ’kraut or an Italian sausage with peppers and onions.
- City Market: It’s only open ’til 11; but until then, it’s a one-stop-shop for soda, chips, cookies and chocolate-y goodness.
- Tantra: Asian food featuring organic ingredients. They do dim sum lunches, too, on lower Church Street.
- Mexicali: The fresh salsa bar is a hot ticket item at this south-of-the-border resto, located near the Majestic 10 movie theater in Williston.
- Tiny Thai: Get in line for tasty Thai at one of two locations: on Main Street in Winooski or near the movie theater in the Essex Shoppes & Cinema. BYOB.
- Scuffer Steak & Ale House: A local Church Street staple that’s big with the sports fans. There’s steak and seafood aplenty (and lots o’ beer, too, if you’re 21+).
- Callahan’s: “Happy Hour” brings wings in a variety of flavors, and other casual pub fare. Plus free parking near the waterfront.
- Tilley’s Café: Fresh seafood served up all kinds of ways, from spicy tuna rolls to coconut shrimp. Lots of gluten-free items and vegetarian entrées, too.
- The Alchemist: It’s a bit of a drive, but this Waterbury locale’s menu is bursting with satisfying pub fare — try the sausage plate or the red beans ’n’ rice — and beer brewed in-house.
- On the Rise Bakery: A vegetarian brunch-lover’s dream come true — and Richmond is just far enough outside of Burlington to feel like an adventure.
- Leunig’s Café & Bistro: Unbeatable location on the corner of Church and College, awesome music and a creative menu.