Tasty though it is, the Vermont food scene is about a lot more than maple syrup. Over the past few years, more and more restaurants have jumped on board the farm-to-table bandwagon, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create innovative, tasty dishes that beg to be devoured. Factor in the authentic pizzerias, old-school canteens, and fancy bistros, and it's easy to see what's made Vermont such a hot ticket for foodies. If you're ready to get stuck into some tasty eats, these are the 20 best restaurants in Vermont to check out.
20. Misery Loves Co., Winooski
Misery Loves Co. is the creation of top chefs Nathaniel Wade and Aaron Josinsky, who learned their craft at some of Vermont's top restaurants (The Inn at Shelburne Farms and the former Bluebird Tavern) before branching out on their own. Regardless of what you choose from the menu, you're not going to leave disappointed. Just a few of the treats to try include herbed Parmesan fries, soft shell crab with charred green onion aïolim, octopus with smoked yogurt, morcilla and radish, and pig cheeks with kohlrabi and sage. To cap off your meal, try the chocolate pudding with walnut crumble - it's worth every calorie.
19. Honey Road, Burlington
When Chef Cara Chigazola Tobin was announced as a semifinalist for "Best Chef Northeast" at the 2018 James Beard Awards, Honey Road started getting all kinds of press attention. But locals have been in on the secret for years, to the extent that you'll struggle to find anyone in Burlington who either hasn't been or who wishes they had. A concept-driven restaurant that revolves entirely around sharing plates of mezze, dips, and breads, it's the ideal place to catch up with friends over some fine food and great wine.
18. The Blue Paddle Bistro Restaurant, South Hero
Travel around 20 miles north of Burlington to the small town of South Hero and you'll find The Blue Paddle Bistro Restaurant, an eatery you'd happily travel halfway across the country to dine at. Run by Mandy Hotchkiss and Phoebe Bright, it's become a favorite with foodies, thanks partly to the laid back atmosphere and flawless service, but mainly to a menu that delivers moist crab cakes the size of a child's head, juicy rib-eye steaks with Vermont cheddar mashed potatoes, and one of the best avocado burgers you'll ever eat. It's eclectic but not eccentric, with enough choice and creativity to keep diners on their toes but not enough to leave them flummoxed.
17. Juniper, Burlington
If you're craving some modern American cuisine with a twist, you'll struggle to find better than Juniper in Burlington. Set in the elegant Hotel Vermont, the ground floor restaurant and bar combines European chic with rustic charm - expect an open plan layout, black granite walls, and antique red-oak floors. The menu is a delight, with fun, innovative dishes that pack a big punch - the juniper-roasted quail and applewood-smoked pickled eggs come particularly highly recommended. Don't leave without trying one of the signature cocktails - according to locals, they're the best in town.
16. The Reluctant Panther Restaurant, Manchester
How does the thought of a lobster & Vermont brie fondue served with crispy pancetta, chives, and a toasted baguette grab you? Or maybe you'd rather a mushroom risotto with spaghetti squash, creamed leeks, and chardonnay sauce? If either one floats your boat, be sure to pay a visit to The Reluctant Panther Restaurant next time you're in Manchester. And if you're not in Manchester, go there anyway - the elegant dining room, award-winning wine list, and scrumptious food make it worth the trip.
15. Black Sheep Bistro, Vergennes
Recommended by Only in Your State as one of the best restaurants in Vermont, the Black Sheep Bistro is a must-visit for anyone within traveling distance of Vergennes. Cozy, intimate, and always generous with the portions, it's unquestionably one of Addison County's hidden gems. The menu changes seasonally, but regardless of what the dish of the day is, you can guarantee you're going to want a second helping.
14. American Flatbread, Burlington
According to theculturetrip.com, American Flatbread restaurants celebrate the concept of the community hearth: a place to honor the tradition of bringing people together through food, warmth, and a common experience. Your guess as to what this means is as good as ours, but the main thing to know is that the portions are hearty, the food is flavorsome, and the prices aren't so obscene you'll rue the day you booked a table. The menu isn't complicated, but if you're in the mood for some perfectly baked pizza, seasonal salads, artisan flatbreads, and very tempting desserts, it's ideal.
13. NECI on Main, Montpelier
Almost all of NECI on Main's employees are students at the New England Culinary Institute. Whatever they're teaching them these days, it's paying off. Far from tasting like the concoctions of over-enthusiastic but underqualified beginners, the dishes are expertly crafted and flawlessly executed. The simple, seasonal menu is short but sweet, with a great range of meat dishes (the Misty Knoll Farm free-range chicken is always a winner), hearty soups, and refreshing salads. The restaurant upstairs is pretty swanky, but if you'd prefer a more casual dining experience, head for the cozy lounge downstairs.
12. Ariel's, Montpelier
As Fodors writes, Ariel's is well off the beaten path, requiring guests to venture down a bumpy dirt road to reach it. For those who make the effort, the rewards are plentiful. Not only is the restaurant's lakeside location idyllic, but the menu of New England–inspired cuisine could tempt anyone to blow the diet and load up their plate. Key dishes to try include the herb-crusted lamb loin and line-caught swordfish. If you round off your meal with a board of Vermont cheese, you'll leave a very satisfied customer.
11. A Single Pebble Restaurant, Burlington
As we've already seen, Burlington has a lot of very fine restaurants. But even in a city as food-centric as this, A Single Pebble Restaurant stands out as something special. Chef Chiuho Duval has come up with an innovative menu that delivers authentic Szechuan flavors with a creative twist. Key dishes to try include the Ma Po bean cake (an aromatic combination of fresh bean curd, minced pork, and chili peppers doused in a spicy Sichuan sauce), the tangerine-peel chicken, and the ginger eggplant. The dining room is as delightful as the menu, with a low-key, friendly vibe that's perfect for dinner dates and drinks with friends.
10. 158 Main Restaurant and Bakery, Jeffersonville
If you're looking for somewhere cheap and cheerful, look no further than 158 Main Restaurant and Bakery. As one of Jeffersonville's most popular eateries, it attracts scores of locals each day, and for very good reason. Customers can expect generous portions, small prices, and an unfailingly tasty plate of food. The Two Eggs Basic (homemade toast, home fries, and two eggs whichever way you like them) is perfect for brunch. At just $4 per portion, it'll leave you with plenty of cash to come back for dinner. If you do, be sure to try the sesame-seared yellowfin tuna with wok-seared vegetables.
9. Michael's on the Hill Restaurant, Waterbury Center
If anyone knows what it takes to deliver European food of the kind you'd happily shell out the airfare for, it's Swiss-born chef Michael Kloeti. Fortunately, you don't have to travel all the way to Zurich to taste his dishes. The acclaimed chef has spent the past few years leading the kitchen at Michael's on the Hill Restaurant in Waterbury Center. Set in a 19th-century farmhouse, the restaurant is gourmet heaven. The menu changes seasonally but is always a delight. For a real treat, splash out on the prix-fixe menu, which showcases some of the best country favorites Vermont has to offer. The sharp cheddar fritters in harissa aïoli are worth the trip alone. Finish the meal with a glass of wine on the wraparound porch.
8. The Dining Room at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, Shelburne
The Dining Room at the Inn at Shelburne Farms isn't your typical restaurant. Walking through the doors of this 19th-century mansion is like walking into a 1920s novel. As you tuck into your food, you'll be treated to rolling views over the formal gardens and the soft sounds of the pianist tickling the ivories in the library. The menu is just as dreamy, with a focus on ingredients grown in the restaurant's kitchen garden or sourced from local farms. Visit on a Sunday to enjoy the best brunch for miles around.
7. Starry Night Café, Vergennes
If you're looking to try something a little different, be sure to pay the Starry Night Café in Vergennes a visit. The focus is on farm-to-table cuisine, a concept that's becoming ever more in vogue, but rarely gets better than it does here. Typical dishes include grilled organic pork loin and fennel-pollen-scented seared salmon. Regardless of what you choose from the menu, you can be sure of top-notch ingredients and a big punch of flavor. Menu aside, the restaurant is lovely, with handcrafted tableware and furnishings, a rotating art display, and a lovely fireside porch that offers dreamy views over the gardens.
6. Worthy Burger, South Royalton
As the name suggests, the Worthy Burger is all about burgers, and worthy ones at that. Jason Merrill, chef-owner of the Worthy Group, is committed to only working with farms that raise food humanly, and without the use of hormones. The result is some of the tastiest burgers and accompaniments you'll find in the entire state. The hand-cut fries, which are cooked twice in beef tallow to make them extra crispy, are incredible.
5. Black Krim Tavern, Randolph
At the Black Krim Tavern, local food is the order of the day. Ingredients are king - so much so, the restaurant has even been named after an heirloom tomato. All of the fresh produce is sourced by chef-owner Sarah Natvig from either the restaurant's own farm, Pebble Brook, or surrounding farms. The meat is sourced from friends or neighbors who rear the animals ethically and without the use of hormones. Obviously, a restaurant can be as ethical as it likes, but it means nothing if the food isn't up to scratch. Fortunately, the menu is just as heavenly as the sourcing policy. Key dishes not to miss include a scrumptiously warming Callahan Farm lamb sausage, parsnip and green apple soup and a lip-smacking Cajun Moon Farm smoked chicken.
4. SoLo Farm & Table Restaurant, South Londonderry
SoLo Farm & Table Restaurant is the kind of charming, gorgeously rustic restaurant you'll never want to leave. Intimate and cozy, it revolves around a huge hearth fire that's perfect for warming your hands over on a winter's day. The menu is fabulous - overseen by Chef Wesley Genovart (who rose to fame at Manhattan's Degustation), it combines Spanish classics like braised octopus with local, seasonal ingredients. The drinks menu is divine (the Vermont-brewed Long Trail Ale is particularly noteworthy) as are the deserts - if you have any room left after your main, the brûléed bread pudding will round off your meal perfectly.
3. The Parker Pie Co., West Glover
Happyvermont.com has named The Parker Pie Co. in West Glover as one of the best restaurants in Vermont. It's not hard to work out why. Its thin crust, stone-baked pizza is to die for, especially when you opt for an extra helping of Vermont cheese on top. If pizza leaves you cold, there's no shortage of other delights on the menu - the slow-roasted beef is particularly good. Just as delightful as the menu is the low-key, friendly ambiance; if you get lucky, you might even be treated to some live music.
2. The Bearded Frog Restaurant, Shelburne
Michel Mahe owns a string of dining establishments across Vermont. All of them are excellent, but The Bearded Frog Restaurant in Shelburne may well be the pick of the bunch. The restaurant is charming, with intimate booths, low ceilings, and rustic wood-hewn bars. The menu is just as delightful, with highlights including crunchy lemon tofu and venison "cigars" rolled in maple horseradish, chicken artichoke soup with Parmesan pretzel croutons, and curry barbecue lamb ribs, Be sure to leave room for dessert - the coconut lemongrass crème brûlée with cranberry ginger compote defies belief.
1. Hen of the Wood, Burlington
If you're looking to enjoy the best of the best, you won't be disappointed with Hen of the Wood which is located in Burlington, Vermont. Before you even set eyes on the menu, you'll be in awe at the sophisticated interior, which features hickory bars, leather furnishings, soft lighting, and roaring wood fires. The food is as impressive as the decor, with a strong commitment to locally sourced produce and ethically raised meat. Just be aware that the kitchen has a nose-to-tail philosophy when it comes to meat, and the chefs don't mind doing the butchering in full view of the kitchen window - if you're squeamish, you might want to be careful where you sit.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn