The Best Food and Drink in Vermont for 2018 from The Best Food and Drink in Vermont for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Vermont for 2018 Gallery
Photos Modified: Dreamstime
The Best Food and Drink in Vermont for 2018
You’ll find tons of maple syrup there, but Vermont has so much more than maple waiting in its landscape. Vermont’s residents are outdoorsy and have taken their love for traditional, small-scale farming to the big stage by leading the nation’s farm-to-table movement. We’ve rounded up the best of the state’s eats as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
The state may be small and the farms might be even smaller, but the people from Vermont are strong, independent, and not to be trifled with. The tough and ever-changing land of steep hills and rocky soil has forced Vermont residents to reinvent the state’s food and drink industry time and time again, most recently by devoting efforts to growing some of the country’s best local produce.
The stereotype of those who hail from Vermont is that they love to hike, wear Birkenstocks, and eat organic — and there’s an element of truth in that, reflected in the state’s great wealth of handcrafted food and drink. It’s such an amiable state for foodies, even Ben and Jerry ditched their home state of New York to start up their ice cream business there. Between the Ben & Jerry’s factory, the plethora of craft breweries to tour, and the unbelievable excess of dairy (there’s one cow in Vermont for every 3.8 people) it’s basically a foodie’s dream come true.
Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and farmers markets to its best dive bar and craft brewery in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state.
Facebook/Ye Olde Tavern
Best Bar: Ye Olde Tavern, Manchester
Ye Olde Tavern is an extremely apt name for this Manchester pub. It was built circa 1790, back when Vermont was that pesky new state on the block that crashed the original 13 colonies’ party. Although the tavern has changed hands numerous times since — and a major renovation was undertaken in 1975 — the uneven floors, slanting doorways, and antique furnishings have remained undisturbed. The tavern has since been listed on the Vermont Register of Historic Places, adding further authenticity to a place that serves Prohibition-era cocktails, an extensive and expertly curated selection of wine, and a 1790 Taproom Ale brewed especially for the bar.
Yelp / BostonBestEats X.
Best Beer: The Alchemist’s Heady Topper
Between the brewery juggernauts of Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist, picking the best beer in Vermont is quite the task. But we had to go with a classic: The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. This flagship IPA is not overrated. It’s perfectly floral yet complex, and every drinker has his or her own experience of flavors, making this a simply glorious brew.
Photo by Rory M. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: A Single Pebble, Burlington
This family-style Burlington institution is the brainchild of chef/owner Chiuho Duval, who grew up in Taipei and left a career in photojournalism to chase her dream of running a restaurant. And by all accounts, she’s succeeded with flying colors. (Just ask Alton Brown, who called her shiitake-based mock eel his “all-time favorite chopstick food” on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.)
Best Craft Brewery: The Alchemist Brewery, Waterbury
This family brewery, situated in small-town Vermont, specializes in unfiltered IPAs. It was opened in 2003 as a modest brewpub, and expanded to include the Alchemist Cannery in 2011, which is closed to the public but produces the brewery’s famous double IPA, Heady Topper, which is sold in limited production. In 2016, Alchemist Stowe was opened in Stowe, Vermont; the new facility produces Focal Banger IPA and various seasonal beers in addition to Heady Topper, and includes a visitor center.
Photo by Eeka S. via Yelp
Best Cupcake: My Little Cupcake, Burlington
Trust us: Despite the fact that these sweets are baked in miniature, there is nothing “little” about these cupcakes. They’re perfect bits of heaven piled high with frosting or, when the cupcake calls for it, smothered in it. The flavor is big-time as well, with a wide variety of options — from Almond Squared and Lemon Raspberry to Piña Colada and Maple Pumpkin — sure to appeal to everyone. For this delicious Piña Colada Cupcakes recipe, click here.
Photo by Emmanuel T. via Yelp
Best Doughnut: The Doughnut Dilemma, Burlington
The Doughnut Dilemma is a relatively new addition to Vermont’s selection of doughnut shops, but its s’mores- and Lucky Charms-flavored doughnuts have helped it to quickly gain a very loyal following. For more information on The Doughnut Dilemma, click here.
Best Farmers Market: Burlington Farmers’ Market, Burlington
The Burlington Farmers’ Market takes advantage of the many goodies produced in Vermont year-round by moving to an indoor facility during the brutal winters. From wine, mead, honey, and hummus to vegetables, flowers, breads, and meats, Burlington’s market sources producer-only goods for locals and tourists alike. Click here for more information about the market.
Yelp/ Doreen L.
Best French Fries: Al’s French Frys, Burlington
If you live in Burlington, you’ve heard of Al’s French Frys. The sprawling burger joint, located just south of downtown, started as a French fry stand run by Al and Genevieve Rusterholz in the late 1940s, and over the years it just kept growing. The latest incarnation still has a distinctly 1950s vibe, and a menu that appears to not have changed (in either offerings or price) in years. Burgers are still just $1.60, and fries (or frys) cost even less than that. The potatoes are scrubbed and hand-cut on a daily basis and double-fried — and the result is the Platonic ideal of the French fry. They’re crispy on the outside, the inside is pillowy soft, and no ketchup is necessary — but if you choose to pour some nacho cheese and chili on top, you certainly won’t regret it.
Photo by City Market Onion River Co-Op via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: City Market, Onion River Co-op
“Out of every grocery store around the country and the world that I have gone to, this is the best one yet. The Onion River Co-op offers huge amounts of fresh, organic, and local produce, dairies, meats, spices, grains, and almost everything else that you can think of. What they do not have from local farms, they make sure to buy the best goods they possibly can; just talking about it gives me that rare rush only a great grocery store can,” one Google reviewer said.
Best Italian Restaurant: Trattoria Delia, Burlington
One of Burlington’s most romantic restaurants, 25-year-old Trattoria Delia occupies a charming basement space and warms the cold night with a fireplace and traditional regional Italian fare. It’s been going strong since 1993, and all pastas are either hand-rolled and cut or made using an Arcobaleno extruder with traditional Italian brass dies. So we definitely suggest you sample some pasta dishes — the chitarra all’Amatriciana (with house-cured guanciale) and tagliatelle al terre e mare (with local scallops and porcini mushrooms) are standouts — but entrées like prosciutto-wrapped Vermont rabbit and slow-braised short rib are also spectacular. Make sure you sample the house-made gelato for dessert.
Best Mexican Restaurant: El Gato Cantina, Burlington and Essex Junction
El Gato is providing Burlington and Essex Junction residents with a fun and relaxed environment in which to enjoy a couple margaritas and some high-quality Mexican fare made with local ingredients and based on the owners’ old family recipes. Tamales are homemade; tacos and burritos are available with proteins, including marinated carne asada, slow-braised carnitas, chicken mole, beef barbacoa, braised tongue, and grilled or fried fish; fajitas are sizzling and delicious; and the pozole is killer.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Guild Tavern, Burlington
Burlington’s Guild Tavern supplies everything you might need for a fun night out on the town — if you can foot the bill. Even the burger is pricey at $18.95, and a big plate of barbecue will set you back $44.95; steaks range in price from $42.95 to $48.95, and a steak for two costs $79.95.
Best Pizza: Pizzeria Verita, Burlington
At Vermont’s best pizzeria, pizzas are made in the traditional Neapolitan style, cooked in a 900-degree Acunto oven. The owners of Verita, which has been in business for five years, have built relationships with some of Vermont’s finest local farmers and food producers, and the end result is a product that combines the best of Italy with the best of Vermont. Try the Margherita for simple perfection, try the Salsiccia e Rapini (with house-made sausage, tomato, fior di latte, broccoli rabe, grana padano, and fresh basil) to see how skilled the kitchen is, and try the Burrata (with local Maplebrook burrata, pecorino Romano, grape tomatoes, and fresh basil) to sample great local artisan cheese. And make sure you finish with a pizza alla Nutella!
Photo by E W. via Yelp
Best Sandwich: Hot Italian Meats at Gill’s Delicatessen, Rutland
Opened in 1964 by Ned and Veda Gilligan and today run by their daughter, Kathy, Gill’s is a beloved Vermont institution that’s turning out some truly spectacular grinders. Bread is baked fresh daily in house, deli meats and cheeses are high quality, and it’s all best experienced in the Hot Italian Meats grinder. Spiced ham, peppered ham, and Italian salami are tucked into a loaf and topped with cheese, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, pickles, onions, hot peppers, and mayo or seasoned oil.
Yelp/ Sarah C.
Best Soup: Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, Burlington
Stone Soup prides itself on making everything from scratch, and along with great soups, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, it’s also a haven for vegetarians. Ingredients are sourced locally and soups change according to what’s fresh and in-season, but you can always depend on there being a wide variety of meat-based, vegetarian, and vegan options. Favorites include chicken soup, beef stew, curried yellow split pea, tomato, and Tuscan red lentil.
Best Steakhouse: Guild Tavern, Burlington
A custom-built wood-fired grill is the centerpiece of the kitchen at Guild Tavern, presided over by chef-owner Philip Clayton, who honed his skills at some of Vermont’s finest restaurants and is dedicated to serving only the finest local ingredients. Beef comes from LaPlatte River Angus Farm, located about 15 minutes away from the restaurant, and it’s really allowed to shine when grilled over Vermont hardwood. New York strips, rib-eyes, and fillets are all on offer, as well as a crazy good burger and a sirloin for two, carved tableside.
Photo by Amanda M. via Yelp
Best Taco: The Mad Taco, Waitsfield: Chile Colorado
Located in a quiet corner of central Vermont, The Mad Taco is serving wildly good tacos and craft beer to crowds of thankful locals. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and they even smoke their own pork and chicken. There are some surprising menu items, but sample them and you’ll be rewarded. The Chile Colorado, for example, is made with rich and flavorful shredded pork topped with onion, cilantro, and avocado; it’s a must-order. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.