Dining on a Dime | Bite Club | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Dining on a Dime

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dining on a Dime: El Cortijo Taqueria y Cantina — Winooski

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2019 at 4:20 PM

Oysters at El Cortijo in Winooski - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Oysters at El Cortijo in Winooski
Here’s the thing about raw oysters: Either you like ‘em or you don’t. If you do, you probably love them. I’m in that category. Big, deep, ocean-size love. Even a little saltwater “farm” that breeds them is OK with me. Who cares?!

So I was pleased to learn that the new El Cortijo Taqueria y Cantina, which opened 10 days ago in Winooski, has oysters on its menu. Bivalve happy hour — when oysters are a buck a piece — is from 4 to 5 p.m. and again from 9 to 10.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Maxi's Restaurant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2019 at 2:52 PM

Soup and sandwich at Maxi's - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Soup and sandwich at Maxi's
In the half hour that I sat at the lunch counter at Maxi's Restaurant in Waterbury, I went from being called “sweetie” to “sweet pea.” To top it off, the waitress who brightened my day with these easy-flowing endearments was named Angie! (If there’s a better song than “Angie,” I can’t think of it right now.)

Angie did everything else right, too, with an assist from the sandwich maker who made my roast beef on rye with Swiss cheese. (If there’s a better cheese than Swiss, I can’t think of it right now. Why doesn’t anyone in Vermont make it? HMU if you do.)

But let’s back up.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Easy as Cake

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 1:20 PM


Klobasnek and soup - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Klobasnek and soup
The menu prices at Easy As Cake, a café and bakery in Colchester, end in the number nine. A baby quiche is $3.99; a Greek salad, $7.99; pesto and tomato popover, $8.99, grilled cheese sandwich, $6.49,  French toast bake, $5.99.

The list slowed me down mathematically but revved up my appetite.  I stared at the chalkboard menu for a prolonged spell, doing addition in my head to put together a meal that came to $12 or less. (That’s the Dining on a Dime price limit.)

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Red Hen Baking Co.

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 12:21 PM

Hummus sandwich and chili at Red Hen Baking Co. - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Hummus sandwich and chili at Red Hen Baking Co.
On road trips that start by heading south on the highway from Burlington, our custom is to stop at Red Hen Baking Co. in Middlesex for a baguette and hummus.

Many people know about the bakery’s excellent baguette: crusty outside, chewy within, wholesome through and through.  But I’m guessing fewer people who make a Red Hen pit stop forego croissants, cookies, pastries or brownies in favor of hummus. The house-made chickpea spread is a  favorite of ours: not too smooth, seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, salt and toasted sesame oil — and just right for baguette-dunking on the road.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Chubby Muffin

Posted By on Sat, Dec 22, 2018 at 10:44 AM

Burger Night at  Chubby Muffin - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Burger Night at Chubby Muffin
At the northern terminus of the "restaurant district," to borrow restaurateur Benjy Adler's term, is one of his restaurants: the Chubby Muffin.

The cafe at 88 Oak Street is a couple of blocks west of the prime district on North Winooski Avenue. As its name suggests, the Chubby is known for morning muffins and coffee.  But there's more: burgers, paninis, pulled pork sandwich and hot dogs; creemees in the summer; used books for sale or trade year-round.

Wednesday is Burger Night at Chubby Muffin, when the café offers a burger and beer for $12.  The restaurant serves a special burger that night; the offer is also good for the house burger,  black bean burger, and pulled-pork sandwich with cheddar and slaw (called Southern Gentleman).

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Vergennes Laundry by CK

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 12:46 PM


Rice bowl at Vergennes Laundry by CK - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Rice bowl at Vergennes Laundry by CK
The choice was between three cider donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar and a rice bowl. I eyed the former and picked the latter.

These brunch options at Vergennes Laundry by CK are $12 each, tax and gratuity included. The donuts, $4 apiece, were mighty tempting, but I thought I should start my Sunday with a little nutritional balance. As it turned out, I was rewarded with a creatively delicious meal built in a bowl.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Kerry's Kwik Stop

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 at 2:53 PM

Roast beef panini with fries from Kerry's Kwik Stop - HANNAH PALMER EGAN
  • Hannah Palmer Egan
  • Roast beef panini with fries from Kerry's Kwik Stop
If you're looking for a fast and hearty midday meal, follow a contractor to their lunch spot. The fare may not be the healthiest — odds are, it won't be. But it'll fill you up, usually with something tasty, and almost always at a reasonable price.

Knowing this, I was relieved when I filed into line at Kerry's Kwik Stop, on St. Paul Street in Burlington during the lunch rush a couple weeks back. In front of me were an array of men in dusty steel-toed boots; some of them wore the neon yellow vests often donned by road crews. Excellent, I thought, starving.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Mirabelles Café

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2018 at 12:28 PM

Chili and salad - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Chili and salad
Amid the deluge of detritus on Facebook, an image of truth and beauty lit up my feed the other day. It was a chocolate cupcake topped with a mound of vanilla frosting and decorated with sparkly numerals: 28.

“Happy Birthday to us!” the accompanying text read.

Mirabelles Café & Bakery turned 28 this week. The occasion provided a good reason — though not a necessary one — for lunch at one of Burlington’s best restaurants.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Pho Dang Vietnamese Café

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 2:03 PM

Pho rau - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Pho rau
Cold weather hit hard and fast this week — just in time to freeze out the Dodgers and warm up with soup.

If you're looking for a bowl of soup to be a meal, the thing to eat is pho,  Vietnamese noodle soup. I headed to Pho Dang Vietnamese Café in Winooski, which moved in July from its home of 11 years to new quarters a few blocks north.

The restaurant at 348 Main Street, roughly double the size of the original, is a cheerful and buzzy space currently decorated with goblins and pumpkins. All 14 tables were full the night I dined there, with a steady flow of people arriving. I found a seat at a shiny wooden bar by the front door and within a couple of minutes was served a pot of tea.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Dining on a Dime: UVMMC Garden Atrium

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 4:25 PM


Carrot fritters and roast vegetables - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Carrot fritters and roast vegetables

A voluntary trip to the hospital is not a bad thing. Such an outing comes with benefits if the destination is the Garden Atrium café at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Cost and personal choice are two of the pluses. Local and fresh are two more. With a longstanding commitment to sourcing local ingredients, UVMMC purchases food from more than 70 regional farmers and producers, according to its website.

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