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Weekend trip to Burlington and Montpelier, VT

We will be spending a weekend in Burlington and Montpelier next month, and would really like some recommendations for a lunch and dinner in each town. We have 3 kids (ages 13, 6,3) who have a great appreciation for food, so the sky's the limit! We'd also like to know of any fun and inexpensive stops along I-89 that may have some nice options for quick grab-and-go breakfast fare and/or lunch choices. Thanks very much!

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  1. There is not much in Montpelier, Black Door for dinner. Waterbury (on the way up to Burlington) there is Alchemist and Hen of the Woods. In Richmond is Sonoma Station and Kitchen Table. Burlington, I would do Flatbread for lunch, L'amante or A Single Pebble for dinner. Or take a drive down to Shelburne and do Shelburne Farms tour with kids in the afternoon and catch dinner at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, it's absolutely beautiful!

    Check the past boards for details,all these places have reviews and comments... and always make reservations for dinner, the choices are few and the good ones are always booked and if you don't make a reservation you will be eating at a tourist trap on Church Street and that is just sad.

    6 Replies
    1. re: biggirlco

      I have a hard time seeing a 6-year old and a 3-year old enjoying L'Amante or Inn at shelburne Farms....way too formal. Great spots for adults, but kids?

      Maybe your kids are different, but most 3-year olds want Olive Garden or something of that ilk. And unfortunately, most adults who'd visit L'Amante or Inn at Shelburne Farms or Hen of the Woods would be praying that their expensive evening out wouldn't be spoiled by children who may not know how to behave in restaurants. I apologize if that sounds unkind, but 3-year olds have spoiled too many of my dining experiences for me to think otherwise.

      1. re: signothetimes53

        I see your point in some ways but if I took my kids to Olive Garden they would complain about the crappy food... although we've never been, i can imagine. Also, if you don't bring your 3 year old to a nice restaurant and show them how to behave how will they ever know how to behave? Lastly, I have taken my kids to Shelburne Farms, just this summer and they were perfectly fine... as well as L'Amante. I'm assuming someone on Chowhound might want the better stuff than Olive Garden.

        So I'll amend it to dinner at Flatbreads or A Single Pebble for the more casual "kid" friendly.

      2. re: biggirlco

        Burlington is great just walk around church steet you will find plenty. The New England Culinary Institute is based out of both Montpilier and Essex Junction (close to burlington) so have a nice dinner at the Inn at Essex and check out the NECI outlets in Montpilier too. Wish I could say more but havnt lived in Burlington for years.

        1. re: biggirlco

          In Montpelier, I beg to differ here. :)

          Sarduccis for italian is a good place. The food is cooked fresh and well made with reasonable prices (on main street near the river)
          That Thai place, Royal Orchid I think it is, always gets good reports (on Elm street past the courts building)
          And Oh what's that place... On State street, replaced that other place that didn't last long... Restaurant uhm some woman's name WHAT IS IT? Sophia? Ophelia? Something like that (or possibly very different but reminding me of those), that gets good reviews, as well.
          And for breakfasts, there's the Coffee Corner, which has some interesting choices alongside the standard breakfast diner fare (they have an actual chef). I've never had a bad meal there, and the prices are reasonable.

          I'd say for a town the size of Montpelier, we're doing pretty darned good. :)

          1. re: Morganna

            Phoebe's? The one next door to the awful Julio's Cantina?

        2. In Montpelier, I would recommend Ariel's Riverside Cafe just off River Street. I ate there last week with friends and had a great meal and a great time. Standouts were a pork and duck terrine with homemade onion marmalade, a pork chop with molasses glazed sweet potatoes, and a trout with fresh corn beurre blanc and a fresh corn salad. The place is somewhat casual and staff is pretty relaxed and friendly so I don't think there would be a problem bringing your kids.


          1. For lunch in Burlington, I'd recommend Tommy's City Grill (love the Huevos Rancheros, love the Philly Cheese Steak) on Shelburne Rd, or Sadie Katz's Deli (love just about the whole damn menu) downtown on Bank St. Ditto the Single Pebble rec for dinner.

            1. In Burlington, agree w/all and anyone who likes American Flatbread--smells great from the moment you walk in due to wood oven but for me personally, it's all about the amazing microbrews (house and guest) available at that location. The flatbread selections only add to that--great ingredients, you can tell they care about flavor. Thought the Church St scene was pretty fun but was there during the jazz festival and that certainly added to the experience :) If your clan appreciates and respects the truly good, do not miss Hen of the Wood although I've heard that recent press is contributing to a lead time for reservations. Plan now.

              1. Just a plug to make a reservation wherever you decide to go. This month is extremely busy with visitors and college parents' weekend, so without one, you might be out of luck. There are some restaurants that don't take reservations, but thought I should mention that. Good luck!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Addisonchef

                  Thanks to everyone for all the tips and recommendations! We're looking forward to our trip, and also can't wait to see the fall colours in the area. I've heard that I can find cider donuts somewhere in Waterbury... does anyone know where exactly this shop is? Thanks so much!

                  1. re: f00die

                    On Rt. 100, the main road between Waterbury and Stowe, Cold Hollow Cider Mill


                2. I was in Burlington last weekend meeting w/pals from Montreal. I suggest :dinner...Buono's, or the Bearded Frog (both in Shelburne) and for breakfast, Skinny Pancakes in Burlington. The Bearded Frog was really good, and seemed kid friendly.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: macman56

                    A shot in the dark -- anyone know where I can get Montreal style bagels in Vermont??? Do any bakeries or grocery stores sell them in the Burlington/Montpelier area? Thanks!!

                    1. re: f00die

                      I just found an older post about Myer's Bagel Bakery in Burlington -- has anyone tried these bagels and does this place make bagels like they do in Montreal (boiled in honey water, then baked)?

                      1. re: f00die

                        Just had Montreal bagels for the first time last week. I don't know anywhere in Vermont that does them like that, but I haven't tried every bagel place in the state.

                        1. re: f00die

                          Meyers's is very close. They are boiled (not sure about the honey water) and baked in a woood fired oven. I think you would be pleased. The place is a bit hard to find so go slow when you think you are close (about 5 miuntes from downtown Burlington/Church St. area).

                      2. re: macman56

                        I'm also looking for a decent chinese restaurant in the Burlington or Waterbury/Stowe area. I've read a lot about A Single Pebble, but was wondering if there is another place that has good authentic chinese food and is reasonably priced (ambience and decor not that important!!). Thanks.

                        1. re: f00die

                          If lunch is an option, I would highly rec Tiny Thai in Winooski. For just $7.95 you get a beverage, an entree, and appetizer, and a small salad. The food is fresh, well prepared, and arrives quickly. This is the BEST deal in the area for lunch.

                          1. re: TonyO

                            I've also come across mention of a Tiny Thai in Stowe... is this a chain restaurant? And, which location (Winooski or Stowe) is closer to Burlington? Thanks again.

                            1. re: f00die

                              I am unaware of the Stowe location. However, Winooski is closer than Stowe (or Essex which is also home of another Tiny Thai).

                              1. re: TonyO

                                Oh, yes, you're right! The other one is in Essex... I was mistaken. Anyway, thanks for the tip -- I think we will definitely stop by Winooski for a Thai lunch!! Yum!

                              2. re: f00die

                                There's a place in Waterbury (near Stowe) called Ocha Thai that is really good. :)

                                1. re: f00die

                                  I believe you're referring to Thai Basil on the Mountain Road. That's the only Thai restaurant I'm aware of in the Stowe area, and they are no affiliated with Tiny Thai.

                                  Another vote for Tiny Thai! Either Essex or Winooski!

                                  1. re: Addisonchef

                                    You probably know it by now, but Morganna knows exactly what she is referring to - do a little research first! And I agree with her assessment.

                                    1. re: Addisonchef

                                      Ocha Thai is in downtown Waterbury near Arvad's and The Alchemist. It is affiliated with Royal Orchid in Montpelier and has lots of good buzz on this board.

                                2. re: f00die

                                  Zen Gardens in South Burlington is the only authentic Chinese food I've found in VT without ordering off-menu. Ask for the "traditional menu" and have some stir-fried rice cakes for me!

                                  Zen Gardens
                                  7 Fayette Dr Ste 2, South Burlington, VT 05403

                                  1. re: Alice Eats

                                    I don't know from authentic, really. I thought I'd heard Single Pebble is/was authentic, is it not? Does Zen Gardens have chicken feet? (the one thing my friend Suri loves that she can't ever find). :)

                                    1. re: Morganna

                                      morg, i am guessing that, given the miniscule number of chinese people in Vt., one is highly unlikely to find chicken feet on a Chinese restnt menu in Vt. But that does not mean that you wouldn't find well prepared authentic Chinese food there. Suri likely already knows this, but if not> There are scores of Chinese restaurants in Boston where chicken feet are served.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        Oh yeah, she loves goin' to Boston for dim sum and chicken feet. :)

                              3. Careful at Phoebes in Montpelier if you are hungry. The food is fabulous. The service is a wrench thrown in the whole thing. Very unhappy front end manager-leads to the other servers to unsure of themselves in her presence. Such a shame, as chefs talent is being held back & restaurants economic viability being put in peril by lousy front of the house service.

                                1. Sarducci's
                                  3 Main St
                                  Montpelier, VT 05602-2926
                                  *Best Italian food in Montpelier and some say the whole state.

                                  54 State St
                                  Montpelier, VT 05602-2919
                                  *Tex-Mex food in a casual atmosphere--Not sure about the earlier comment about it being awful. I really liked it when I ate there and it seemed crowed and popular. When my uncle suggested we go out for Mexican my aunt immediately thought this was the go to place and they have lived in Montpelier for a long time.

                                  La Brioche Bakery
                                  89 Main St.
                                  Montpelier, VT 05602
                                  *All kinds of yummy baked goods; could definitely get a grab and go croissant for breakfast or some tasty cookies for the car ride.

                                  Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
                                  1168 County Rd.
                                  Montpelier, VT 05602
                                  *Exibits about making maple syrup, plus a shop where you can buy maple syrup, maple candy, maple flavored ice cream and other Vermont suveniers.

                                  The Shed Restaurant and Brewery -- in between Montpelier and Burlington
                                  1859 Mountain Rd.
                                  Stowe, VT 05672-4890
                                  *Burgers, pasta, salads, wraps, etc. with a kids menu in a casual atmosphere.

                                  Cold Hollow Cider Mill -- in between Montpelier and Burlington
                                  3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road (Route 100
                                  )Waterbury Center, VT 05677
                                  *Really good fresh cider and lovely cider donuts.

                                  Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream -- in between Montpelier and Burlington
                                  1401 Waterbury Stowe Rd. (Route 100
                                  )Waterbury, VT
                                  *This is the original factory location; has factory tour, gift shop and ice cream galore.
                                  *I-89 exit 10, north on Hwy 100 about 1 mile.

                                  The Warren Store -- in between Montpelier and Burlington
                                  Historic Main Street
                                  Warren Village, Vermont 05674
                                  *This place has good sandwiches and a nice deck to sit out on while you eat, right next to the beautiful Mad River.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Khotso98

                                    I admit I haven't been to Julio's in years but that is their fault. We used to go regularly but then we had three awful meals in a row. AWFUL. Terrible service, terrible, lukewarm bland BLAND food. And honestly, we're -not- all THAT picky. This was just truly terrible food. Maybe they've changed, but I wouldn't bet on it unless someone I know and trust has been there recently and they told me so (sorry, Khotso, don't know you :). Even with that, I'd be reluctant to spend the money, but I suppose I could give it a go.

                                    ETA: Just a note, having lived in Montpelier a long time and liking a place doesn't mean the person making the recommendation isn't ... mistaken.

                                    Just checking, because you've made a lot of recommendations on the NE board in a short time, but you seem to make a lot of recommendations across a lot of different boards. Do you live in the area, Khotso? Or do you just travel a lot? I don't remember seeing you on this particular board before.

                                  2. I can't contribute for montpelier, but I can give some suggestions for Burlington. I visit Burlington quarterly from New Haven, CT. Burlington is mine and my wife's favorite place to go to unwind and have some great food. I have some great suggestions for your family, and I can't believe all of them haven't been mentioned yet.

                                    First of all, while church st does have some exciting attractions, events and shopping, I tend to stay away from church st when it comes to dining.


                                    American Flatbread: Great spot for a variety of beers, and their version of pizza is delicious, especially if your children are adventurous eaters. The herb and cheese and the medicine wheel are my two favorites there.

                                    Trattoria Delia: If you go on yelp, there are a ton of reviews of this restaurant. It was a nice ambience, if your children are well behaved, they won't have any problems here. Price is in line with a nice italian place, but you get great quality, delicious food! I've had 2 wonderful meals here.

                                    The Farmhouse Tap and Grill: Get here early, they don't take reservations and after 6pm they're packed. Great fresh local food. Awesome apps, fun and interesting specials. We went here for our anniversary and it was perfect.

                                    Quick/Casual Meals:

                                    Sky Burger: One of the BEST burgers and BEST shakes I've ever had. This place is simple and quality. Menu is not extensive, but the few things they do, they do very well. We were very impressed.

                                    BIG FATTYS: Big Fatty's I've listed in caps for a reason. Its the place we go to EVERY single burlington trip we make. It's quick and it's phenomenal!!! Their pulled pork and pulled chicken is absolutely to die for. In the summer we visit burlington with a large group and the group makes sure we eat at Fatty's.


                                    Myers Bagels: Montreal style bagels, warm friendly staff. Get montreal spice, and tell them it's your fist time there (if it in fact is) and your bagel is on the house! The bagel is boiled in honey water then placed into a wood fired oven. Fantastic!!

                                    Penny Cluse Cafe: There is always a wait here. Interesting takes on traditional breakfast fare. Price is slightly higher than a diner, but the food is worth it. Expect the wait, and slower service because it's always full.

                                    I love Burlington, hopefully with these recommendations, you'll love it too.

                                    Penny Cluse Cafe
                                    169 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT

                                    American Flatbread
                                    46 Lareau Rd, Waitsfield, VT 05673

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: RoninSTi

                                      don't know when fOOdie was going; she didn't say. But we go to Burl every yr for vaca. and PENNY CLUSE is the bee's knees, esp. their mex items- esp their chiles rellenos plate w/ eggs on the side. you will not find better in new eng.

                                      THE GREEN ROOM never gets mentioned on this board but ,, besides tratoria Delia, it is our go-to for great food in Burl. Lots of asian and mex influences; local products; talented chef owner.
                                      tapas style- small med and entree size plates. big selection. You must get his duck tacos and his sushi- tuna avocado sesame app.

                                      1. re: RoninSTi

                                        I'm a native of Burlington and can't believe no one has mentioned Leunig's Bistro on Church Street. Maybe I missed it... Anyway, it has great ambiance and fantastic food. The service is excellent as well, and the $15 early bird dinner is a real bargain. It's definitely my 'go to' place for lunch, brunch or dinner in Burlington!

                                        Leunig's Bistro
                                        115 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401

                                        1. re: Auriel

                                          This is long past the original poster's trip, but I feel compelled to point out that in my opinion Leunig's in NOT child friendly. Even if your child is very quiet and well-behaved, you may be made to feel unwelcome. Sad, but true.

                                          1. re: Grays_Mom

                                            I'd agree. It is not a kid friendly kind of place, too small, crowded. I've never been there with a kid so I can't say they'd treat me poorly but I wouldn't take a kid there. No fun for anybody. .

                                      2. Note to all on the board, you can pick up both Myer's Bagels and cider doughnuts (in season) at City Market.

                                        And for future readers, I second the recommendations for Skinny Pancake for any meal, A Single Pebble (it feels slightly fancier though, white linen, not your typical take-out style), and Penny Cluse. I'd also throw in August First and Magnolia Bistro for breakfast or lunch downtown, both excellent ingredients and warm, fun rooms.

                                        Penny Cluse Cafe
                                        169 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT

                                        A Single Pebble
                                        133 Bank Street, Burlington, VT 05401

                                        Skinny Pancake
                                        60 Lake St Ste 1A, Burlington, VT 05401

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rasalhanout

                                          ras, as longstanding Penny Cluse devotees whenever we come up from Boston, plse tell what would entice you to any of the above for brkfst? thanks.

                                          Penny Cluse Cafe
                                          169 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT

                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                            Opinionated, I should say I'm not a breakfast fanatic--I don't tend to go for specific dishes as much as the overall experience. That said,

                                            - August First is a bakery and cafe. They bake exceptional bread (baguettes & 7-grain are favorites), and delicious, not-too-rich scones and Hungarian pastries with apricot or walnut. (They also have lots of lunch options... great soups, *love* the grilled cheese.) They use a lot of local ingredients. And compared to the Cluse, it feels ok to linger since their business is not all sit-down. It's also a warm, inviting space. It has garage doors and faces east so it catches morning light--blissful on a sunny day, still appealing on a gloomy one.

                                            - Magnolia's menu options are abundant: oatmeal pancakes, strawb-rhubarb french toast, breakfast burrito, tofu scram, etc. A few dishes are too busy for my taste but most are not. They use high-quality ingredients with a focus on local & organic. I like the vibe; friendly with good service, not trying too hard. It's also a lovely space architecturally. Though it's on the basement level it's airy. with, if I remember right, brick arches.