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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Baked taters are a tasty treat — and they’re easy to make if you’ve got a microwave.
Wash a baking potato and pierce in several places with a fork. Microwave for 4 minutes, flip over, and nuke for another 4.
Squeeze your tater. If it’s still hard in spots, it’s not done, so throw it back in. (Not all microwaves are created equal: Some take longer than others.)
When your potato is cooked, split it lengthwise and try some of these topping options:
If you add cheese or another cold topping, you might want to nuke it again.