The vibrant city of Burlington, on the shoreline of Lake Champlain, is surrounded by scenic beauty. The city is steeped in culture and has a rich agricultural heritage, which has created a thriving and exciting food scene. Vermont’s cheeses, wines and beers consistently win praise, and award-winning cuisine is served up with pride and legendary hospitality. For a taste of Burlington, try our pick of the 10 best restaurants it has to offer.
American Flatbread restaurants celebrate the concept of the community hearth: a place to celebrate the time-honored tradition of bringing people together through nourishment, warmth and a common experience. Each restaurant features local, regional and organic ingredient. The mission of American Flatbread is to provide good, flavorful, nutritious food that gives both joy and health, and to share this food with others in sustainable ways. The Burlington restaurant features a simple menu of perfect pizzas, artisan flatbreads, seasonal salads and homemade desserts.
Hen of the Wood provides a true Vermont dining experience and showcases the region’s most vibrant foods. The Hen’s sophisticated interior features inky hues, hickory bars, leather dining chairs and soft lighting, plus blazing wood fires and stacked wood at either end of the room. From your table, you can watch chefs at work at the open, wood-fired oven, loading steaks and fish on to metal shelves. Vegetarians and the generally squeamish should be aware that a window into the walk-in cooler often sports a pig carcass hanging from a hook and the kitchen window allows butchering to become a spectator sport, as chefs follow the restaurant’s whole-animal ethos.
Leunig was an instant hit as the sounds of the espresso machine and Edith Piaf transported customers back to old European cafes. Now Leunig’s Bistro is a full restaurant with seasonal menus using local ingredients. Upstairs, a spectacular art-deco inspired lounge is the place to go to for craft cocktails, tapas and divine desserts. One day each month, Leunig’s donates ten percent of sales to a local charity. Leunig’s is also a regular sponsor of local cultural events and venues, including the Discover Jazz Festival, Burlington City Arts and The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.
Logans of Vermont is an upscale food market located in Burlington’s historic waterfront district. The Logan brothers focus on gourmet quality menu items including pastries, soups, paninis, side dishes and signature takeaway dinners. There’s also a beer and wine list and daily specials including warm brioche pudding with strawberry sauce on the breakfast menu, a classic corned beef reuben for lunch and mustard and sage roasted pork loin to take home for dinner.
Penny Cluse is a busy cafe with a menu which aims to satisfy a broad range of tastes. Bestsellers are the tofu scram and omelettes, with hundreds of different ingredient combinations to choose from. Gingerbread pancakes and huevos rancheros are also favorites and there’s always a side choice of baked goodies, soups and daily specials. Can’t make it to Burlington to try the gingerbread pancakes? Look up the cafe’s website to find the recipe for these and other delicious dishes.
Burlington’s only restaurant with an all-vegetarian menu, Revolution Kitchen uses fresh, local and organic ingredients, with many dishes inspired by Asian flavors. Offerings change nightly and reflect the seasons. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, even on the luscious dessert menu that features Revolution Kitchen’s famously decadent chocolate banana cream pie. Start with lemongrass tofu, rice noodles, lettuce, aromatic herbs and carrots in rice paper served with a zesty peanut dipping sauce. For a main try the laksa noodle pot with broccoli, bok choy, carrots and tofu with rice noodles in a flavorful and spicy coconut broth or risotto with crimini mushrooms, roasted red pepper and kale pesto.
Mirabelles Cafe is a chef-owned bakery open for breakfast and lunch. You’ll find plenty of delicious items on the breakfast and lunch menus including omelettes, pancakes, soups, salads and deliciously different sandwiches and paninis. Choose from a selection of baked goods including coconut-lime cake (vanilla cake doused with coconut milk, layered with lime custard and covered in whipped cream and coconut flakes), crème brulee cake (vanilla cake flavored with caramel syrup and filled with rich vanilla custard, topped with a brittle layer of caramelized sugar) or the triple chocolate mocha mousse cake (coffee almond meringue, with layers of dark chocolate mousse, milk chocolate mocha mousse and white chocolate mousse).
The Farmhouse Tap & Grill is a cheery gastropub that draws in the crowds with its servings of country comfort food, including delicious vegetarian dishes based on foraged local ingredients. In summer, the beer garden is ideal for al fresco pints, while open fires keep patrons happy indoors in the winter months. The tap room pours prized beers from around the globe and there’s also a splendid selection of wine. The beer garden is also a popular live music venue during Burlington’s annual Discover Jazz Festival.
Henry’s Diner is a family-owned and operated classic diner. Behind the original facade the diner has a fresh, updated interior featuring cozy retro booths and counter seating on classic chrome stools. Breakfast is served all day, plus lunch and dinner and late night dining on weekends. Step back in time and try a classic hot dog, fried green tomatoes eggs benedict, Belgian waffles, Vermont turkey or Chicago lamb gyro. Pick up a souvenir cup, cap or t-shirt on the way out.
Vermont’s first certified green restaurant, Magnolia Bistro, serves local, organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and meat-loving dishes. The restaurant avoids GMO products, recycles or composts over 90 percent of its waste, uses ten-star energy-rated appliances and is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network, working closely with local farms and food purveyors. Specialties here for breakfast and lunch include homemade seasonal bread, tofu scrams and omelettes, lemon ricotta pancakes, Belgian lime waffles and an open-face steak sandwich with local, marinated steak topped with mushrooms, onions and cheddar cheese with cajun mayo. There’s a lovely leafy courtyard at the rear for al fresco dining. Magnolia also supports local artists and musicians with live music events and changing exhibitions.