Burlington, Vermont is a happening college town in northern New England with sustainable sensibilities and a distinctly independent mindset. That alone should tell you it's a foodie's dream. There are so many restaurants in Vermont's largest city, you could sample someplace new every day for weeks and not exhaust the possibilities. So, if you're in Burlington for just a night or weekend, this guide to true restaurant gems will ensure you don't miss the best of the best.
This cheery all-day-breakfast spot is the standard by which all other Burlington breakfast outposts are measured. Brace yourself for a wait: It'll be worth it once you're delivered a tantalizing plate of scrambled egg tacos or gingerbread pancakes. Local college students know this is the place to fill up for under five bucks on biscuits and gravy or corn muffins toasted on the grill. Owners Charles Reeves and Holly Cluse have opened up Lucky Next Door—literally next door. And you'll find breakfast options to love there, too: spicy eggs chilaquiles, cinnamon toast with a pot of chocolate for dipping, and a draft beer and cider menu.
Chef Eric Warnstedt takes Vermont's bounty, the gifts of the earth, and makes simple, beautiful dishes that transcend the sum of their parts. It's a talent that has earned him more accolades than any other Vermont chef, making the original Hen of the Wood in Waterbury a destination for foodies. With long-time business partner William McNeil, Warnstedt debuted a second Hen of the Wood at Hotel Vermont in Burlington in 2013. The sequel—helmed by rising-star chef Jordan Ware—has racked up plentiful recognition of its own. The daily-changing menu ebbs and flows with the seasons: Expect to taste some of the finest ingredients raised, farmed, foraged, harvested, and crafted in Vermont, including local cheeses and beverages like Heady Topper beer.
Vermont may be New England's only landlocked state, but you can still enjoy a fine feast from the sea at Bleu Northeast Seafood. They work with vendors like Wood Mountain Fish to source sustainably harvested fin and shellfish. Yes, you can eat seafood for breakfast here daily, including Maine lobster frittata and fried oyster Benedict. But nightly dinners are your chance to sample Chef Doug Paine’s best work with the day's catch from Atlantic waters and even straight out of Lake Champlain.
Burlington's destination for authentic Italian cuisine doesn't scream "romance" from outside. Trattoria Delia is in the basement of a 1911 brick building that was formerly the city's landmark Vermont House hotel. But tug open the heavy wood door, and the first thing you spy is an extraordinary fireplace. It's built of Vermont-quarried Panton stone, and is surrounded by reclaimed wood planks from a New Hampshire sugarhouse. Every dish here is crafted with imported and local ingredients. It's simple, rustic fare that, paired with an Italian wine, transports you to a faraway land.
It's that only-in-Burlington blend of farm-to-table restaurant and hip music club that makes ArtsRiot the best spot for a couple's night out. Just because the menu is casual—wings, rice bowls, burgers, herbed fries—doesn't mean it's prepped with any less attention to freshness and responsible sourcing than you'll find at swankier restaurants. And with a calendar featuring diverse music performances, food festivals, trivia nights, and story slams, it's an easy, one-stop night out for dinner and a show.
Known for its 30-tap craft beer and cider lineup—augmented by an enormous list of bottled and canned options, including rare selections brewed in Vermont and far beyond—The Farmhouse Tap & Grill will also feed you better than your typical beer joint. Plump, juicy burgers are made with Vermont-raised beef, turkey, or pork, and vegetarians can opt for a plant-based patty. There's actually quite a range of locally-inspired fare to devour, whether you're in the mood for snacks, raw bar treats, or a hefty meal. Speaking of which, the Baller Burger, priced just shy of $30, is a foie-gras-topped gourmet feast. Best of all, there's joviality aplenty at communal tables in the outdoor beer garden on warm-weather days. You might even catch a band playing.