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Burlington and/or Portland - Good Bar Food

My friend and I will be doing a brewery tour this weekend stopping at various breweries in Vermont and Maine, and we'll be spending one night in Burlington and two nights in Portland. I'm interested to see if anyone has any suggestions for places to go in either of those cities to get a fairly cheap meal that have good, or maybe better than average, bar food. We love a good burger, buffalo wings, etc. Bonus for places that have a good beer selection and/or lively atmosphere! Thanks!

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  1. There's the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier, Bluebird Tavern in Essex Junction, The Alchemist in Waterbury, and I can't remember the name of the best place in Burlington.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Morganna

      i second the Alchemist, its really a great stop.

    2. For Portland, the Great Lost Bear on Forest Ave meets all your criteria. I'd stay away from Sebago Brewing in Portland and Gritty Macduff's in Freeport, both brew pubs with mediocre food.

      1. Second the rec for the Great Lost Bear for beer, food is ok. Stay w wings, burgers and nachos and you'll be fine. If beer is important, I would make sure you get to Novare Res in the Old Port for excellent beer and cold food. Mnay unusual drafts and an excellent bottle cellar. No stoves but excellent sliced meats, cheeses and app plates w hummus, olives, roasted veggies, etc...

        1. If your brewery/brewpub tour stops include Liberal Cup, Hallowell, ME and/or Run of the Mill, Saco, ME check out the exceptional pub food...burgers, wings, fresh fried seafood specials, etc.

          Liberal Cup
          115 Water St Ste 1, Hallowell, ME 04347

          1. I'm gonna break with the crowd on Great Lost Bear. Really good beer; really really mediocre food. Also, they don't make any of it there, it's just a good "library" of beer with a lot of local selections. I think the food at Sebago is actually better. Gritty's also has great beer and mediocre or sub-mediocre food. Ditto Sea Dog.

            Liberal Cup is TEH AWESOME, and exactly fits your bill, but might be out of the way, about 50 min from Portland.

            You could also try Lion's Pride in Brunswick, Belgian beers and pretty good food -- reviews here have been mixed, but I really like the frites. They're supposed to have their own brews available soon.

            Portsmouth Brewery is actually pretty good too, if you're in the area.

            1 Reply
            1. re: the_MU

              I have to agree with the rec's of Portsmouth Brewery and Lion's Pride. Both have plenty of really good beer and its way above your typical bar food.

              Run of the Mill in Saco is typical bar food. Same can be said about Gritty's, Sea Dog and Sebago in Portland. GLB has very mediocre food. Novare has a bigger beer selection than Lion's Pride but no burgers or fries.

              I say eat dinner at the Alchemist in Waterbury. Get there early as it fills up quick. Great beers! When you hit Portland- Do lunch at Novare, dinner at Lion's and the second night's dinner at Portsmouth. That would be not only a great beer trip but food as well.

            2. Alchemist in Waterbury, VT (about 25 miles from Burlington) has great bar food and brews. American Flatbread in Burlington has good beer and delicious flatbread pizzas and yummy salad but not typical bar food. Both very lively! Have fun.

              1. Burlington, VT:

                VT Pub and Brewery (Brewery and restaurant)
                The Scuffer Steak and Ale (not a brewery but nice selection)
                American Flatbread (Brewery and restaurant)

                You can also visit Magic Hat (South Burlington, no food) and Switchback brews in Burlington but I don't know if they are open to the public at the brewery but practically every restaurant has their brew on tap (great stuff). Ri Ra is an Irish style pub on Church Street that may be a good place for a pint.

                1. What about Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland- good selection of German beers- and a fantastic cheese plate as I recall...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fmcoxe6188

                    Now that I think about it- the Brian Boru in Portland had some really great food as well- at least last time I was there- and a good beer selection as well

                  2. If you plan to be in Central Vt during lunch/early dinner hours, the Long Trail Pub/Brewery in Bridgewater (corners?) has awesome burgers, yaki wings, and chili.

                    A little more upscale lunch can be had in the brewpub at the Norwich Inn/Jasper Murdoch's. They make their own english style beers too.

                    The Alchemist is not to be missed. If you really like good beer, plan to spend a whole evening there. Try the Olde Stage Coach Inn for a place to stay within walking distance - they serve a great breakfast with the room.

                    Flatbread in Burlington has good pizza for VT and is probably the best beer bar in the state - good house made beers too.

                    Many like VT Pub and Brewery, but I think their food is just ok and I don't enjoy the beers so much.

                    Portsmouth Brewery is another must stop (I think the Alchemist and Portsmouth are the two best brewpubs in New England for both food and beer).

                    I love the wings at Great Lost Bear in Portland - extensive list of burgers and sandwiches too.

                    Sebago brewpub is decent enough - nothing all that special, but I have always liked the chowder and ceaser salad combo with an IPA.

                    Free popcorn and a bottle of Cadillac Mountain Stout at $3 Dewey's always hits the spot when I'm in Portland.

                    There's a new place just north of Portland - The Lion's Pride in Brunswick - that is getting some good reviews from beer geeks - its owned by the owners of Ebenezer's (a destination beer bar in Lovell, ME - ask to see the beer cellar)

                    Further up the coast of Maine, The Liberal Cup has great bar food, but the last time I was there, all the beers had a lactic character to them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LStaff

                      I agree that Liberal Cup beers can vary from batch to batch: maybe that's why I like the place! Beer is a living critter, after all. It's one of the few places where you can get an authentic cask conditioned ale. And yes, the food is outstanding.

                    2. Thanks so much for the recommendations, everyone! I'll be sure to report back after our trip. Yes, we plan on going to Long Trail as our first stop and we will be there around lunch time so maybe we will eat there!

                      1. Just got back from my trip. We LOVED American Flatbread, The Alchemist, The Great Lost Bear, and Novare Res. Great beer selections all around. We also toured a bunch of breweries...Otter Creek was our favorite out of all 7 we went to in terms of beer, we liked pretty much everything that they had. The Alchemist was our winner for best brewpub in terms of their beer (unfortunately we didn't eat there, just stopped in for a beer or two.) We also loved Long Trail's outdoor deck. Thanks again everyone for contributing to make the trip a success!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Solstice444

                          What did you have (food and beer) at the Alchemist? I'm always curious. :)

                          1. re: Morganna

                            I had the Ouroboros and the Harvest Ale. Both were great! We had eaten lunch not too long before, as we woke up really hungry and therefore ate in Burlington before traveling to Waterbury. My friend got the soft pretzel, and she doesn't like mustard so I tasted the mustard, since it said it was housemade. It was delicious! I actually started eating it with a fork. I wish we could've eaten there but the timing didn't work out, and I was really too stuffed to try anything. I would love to go back!