Can you think of anything more picturesque than Vermont in the snow? Me neither! Here is part 2 of the Vermont trip…many months later. Eating and drinking in local joints made this a fun, if chilly, spot.
On our recent trip to New England this past fall, we tried to hit up not only nationally known brands, but we supported small business, and shopped and ate local as much as possible. Here are my picks for what to do in Burlington. Supporting local in Burlington is frankly fairly easy since there are no big box stores. No massive malls, no W-Mart, Target or other discount retailers. I did not see a single chain restaurant while I was there, how refreshing! You naturally turn toward the businesses owned by the local peeps.
When in Burlington, make your way to Handy’s Lunch
I love to eat breakfast and I dare say that I’d almost rather eat breakfast and lunch out than dinner in many cases. For dinner I can make do with an app and some cocktails, but a great breakfast? Now we are talking! When in Burlington, make your way to Handy’s Lunch. They’ve been around since 1945 and it’s just awesome! It’s not fancy, but everything we had was cooked perfectly and as Yankee fans, we were welcomed with open arms (LITERALLY) by Earl Handy, the son of the founders. Family owned and operated from the start, this lunch counter is a “must do” while there.
Even more entertaining than the local chatter you’ll hear at the counter are the names of the breakfast sandwiches…yes, Chuck Norris is a featured gem. Be sure to ask for the picture menu. The Chuck Norris is fucking huge! John’s “Blackbelt” is below and the Chuck Norris is even bigger! We had such a good time on our first visit, we made time for a second breakfast at Handy’s.
In an effort to sample as much as we could, we hit up the Gryphon Gastropub. I loved the old school feel of the room. We like to sit at the bar and this bar offers the full menu. Knowledgeable servers and good food made this a fantastic little stop. My fave dish there, the seafood grits, is available as a main AND a starter, so in case you aren’t really hungry, you can still enjoy this.
In an Easily Walkable City, do a Local Beer Hike
Because Burlington is an easily walkable city, we did a Beer Hike through town to hit up as many of the local breweries as possible. One of the differences we noticed between these New England breweries in Burlington, and those on the west coast is that they were really JUST breweries – not brew pubs. There wasn’t a ton of food to be had in any of these local spots to either give a “base” for a night of drinking, or to sop up all the great beer we were enjoying. A pretzel here, a hot dog there, some cheese curds along the way, but few signature items or fancy assed menus. The beer was stellar and there was fabulous variety throughout the city.
Each local brewery has its own style that they are known for and they all support one another. BeerTenders in each brewery were happy to point us to their favorite along the map. Of course, we hit up the local distillery as well. Each tasting room was unique with its own flavor. One was showing B Grade SciFi flicks on the wall with a DJ the night we were there. My fave was Queen City with its vintage reclaimed bar. The story goes that the bar top was from an old “club” where local wheeling and dealing went on.
Did Someone Say Chocolate?
When in Burlington, down near the “brewery walk” be sure to stop in at Lake Champlain Chocolate company too. Lovely flavors and they have a “seconds” bin where they aren’t perfect in appearance, but the taste is perfect. Discounts on the “seconds” get you more bang for your buck and you can try more flavors.
It’s not a Soft Serve. It’s a Creamee!
Finally, on our way back to the hotel, the Hubs wanted ice cream, so we stopped in for a “Creamee” (aka soft serve) at Burlington Bay Market & Café where I had a delightful black raspberry cone and I enjoyed it while walking along Lake Champlain’s shores.
As mentioned in my previous post – Vermont is SO much more than meets the eye. I recommend the fall for the leaf peeping. If you are trying to beat the heat, visit in the summer; Lake Champlain has great water sports available. If you are into winter sports, you can’t go wrong with Vermont in the winter.