Home to crystal clear waters perfect for swimming and scuba-diving, visitors to Lake Champlain, Vermont, will find it easy to work up an appetite. After a day’s watersports, fishing, walking, or cycling you’ll want a delicious meal. We pick the 10 best places to find one in the valley.
(c) Waterworks Food + Drink
Waterworks Food + Drink
For unrivaled views of the stunning Winooski River, reserve a table at Waterworks Food + Drink. Much more than just a dining experience, guests are also able to learn about the history of the Champlain Mill while tucking into delicious, innovative takes on American favorites. Separate menus are available for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and all feature rich, indulgent dishes. For a dinner to remember, start with the whipped feta with farm beans, olive oil, and grilled bread to share; follow with either the pan-roasted swordfish served with gold rice or the Waterworks steak frites, with crispy garlic and parsley fries. End on a chocolatey high with a plate of churros. Regular live music events take place here, too; check out what’s coming up on the website.
Showcasing the richness of Vermont’s farming heritage, Hen of the Wood uses as much locally sourced produce in its dishes as possible. Taking things back to basics, the menu changes daily depending on what local ingredients are available. Previous menu items have included ham-wrapped rabbit loin served with apples, kohlrabi, and crème fraîche, Gulf of Maine hake with cippolini onions, potato, and pine nuts, and grilled octopus with sunchokes, scallions, and ginger. Those eager to try local food at bargain prices will want to stop by 4-5pm or 10-11pm each day for $1 oysters.
Since opening more than two decades ago, the popularity of Pauline’s Café has grown and grown. From petite, home-style space to vast restaurant composed of a café, a restaurant, an enclosed patio, and two private dining rooms, Pauline’s is arguably one of the most successful and loved restaurants in the area. The décor is elegant and cozy, full of autumnal hues creating the ideal atmosphere for those intimate date night dinners, and the soft jazz in the background certainly helps, too. The food is a real delight, with menu options including beautifully presented plates of pepper-crusted beef fillet in a red wine and herb demi-glaze, potato crusted salmon, and Thai grilled shrimp.
Where better to enjoy idyllic sunset views over Lake Champlain than actually on it, atop a floating dock? That’s exactly what guests can do at the gorgeous seafood restaurant, Splash at the Boathouse. The most sought after place to dine throughout the spring and summer months, guests are treated to glorious panoramas stretching across the water to the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The menu is simple, and the food is exquisite. Think appetizers of coconut shrimp and buffalo tenders, entrées of fresh Maine lobster and cranberry walnut chicken salads, and, of course, there is a fully stocked bar for anyone wanting to enjoy a cocktail as the sun goes down.
Since 1891, The North Hero House has been hosting guests in their historic and recently beautifully restored country inn. The House is also home to a small marina; the Streamship Pier is one of Lake Champlain’s most celebrated event sites. The Inn holds 26 double rooms, two bars, various event sites, a sandy beach and a marina. It caters for the needs of many from those looking for romantic getaways to business meetings and private parties. The Inn is also home to the award winning restaurant, serving nouvelle American cuisine that changes by season. All ingredients are locally sourced, including on-site grown produce, locally raised beef and Maine seafood.
Situated right on the lakefront, the Ruthcliffe Lodge & Restaurant offers delicious Italian-American style cuisine. Acclaimed chef and owner, Mark Infante, has developed an appealing and varied menu of seafood, chicken, beef, veal, various pasta entrees, homemade soups, seasonal greens and garden veg. Guests have the choice of sitting inside or out overlooking the water, plus an extensive selection of handpicked imported and domestic wines are also on offer to accompany the meal.
Located in the heart of the Champlain Islands, the family run inn and restaurant sits on the majestic Lake Champlain with stunning views of the Green Mountains. Relax on the lake shore with a glass of wine, read a book or take in the views. Under the direction of Chef Dan Rainville, the restaurant offers a variety of different dishes, including bistro and traditional plates such as the signature apple island chicken and old fashioned Yankee pot roast. It is open from 10.30am until 4pm and is also available for private parties and weddings in the off-peak season.
An authentic Italian trattoria nestled in the heart of picturesque Vermont, Trattoria Delia has been keeping locals happy and full-bellied since 1993. Stepping through its doors is like stepping back in time to Old World Italy. The bare-brick walls and roaring fire make this restaurant welcoming: the perfect setting for a romantic dinner. The menu is divided into antipasti, primi, and secondi, and diners are spoilt for choice. Choose between the scamorza, calamari, or cold meat plate for a beautiful antipasto to share, and then tuck into a warming bowl of tagliatelle or gnocchi for your starter. The real star of the show is the choice of secondi. Ossobuco alla Milanese (braised veal shank), polipo alla brace (wood-grilled Mediterranean octopus), and brasato di manzo (slow-braised, boneless beef short rib) are all served with sides of grilled vegetables and sage-butter-roasted potatoes.
Open for brunch and lunch everyday, Penny Cluse Café in Downtown Burlington is a great place to start your day before setting off to explore Lake Champlain. Fill up for the lengthy walk with a plate of tasty gingerbread pancakes or a big bowl of homemade maple syrup granola, or really go for it with a plate of chorizo and egg tacos with a bucket-o-spuds (home fries with melted cheese, salsa, onions, and sour cream) on the side. For those who can’t quite stomach such a mighty meal, there are plenty of takeout options, too. Call a day in advance to put in an order for a party menu if you’re in a big group, or just pop in and have a coffee while your packed lunch is cooking if there’s just a few of you.
Diners can take a culinary trip around the globe at The Daily Planet. With an expansive menu featuring dishes from Thailand, France, Japan, Italy, and, of course, the USA, this is the perfect restaurant to please everyone in the dinner party. The restaurant gives guests the choice of where they would like to enjoy their meal as well: choose to dine in the solarium; the romantic, copper-filled dining room; or with a cocktail in hand in the bubbly bar area. Favorite dishes include pan-roasted lamb lollipops, almond crusted swordfish, and caramelized sea scallops.