11 Bars and Restaurants Us Burlington Locals Swear By
1. Kountry Kart Deli
It’s 2am, you’re drunk and you need to go home, but not before you find something to stuff down your gullet. The line at Mr. Mike’s is out the door and you need food ASAP. What do you do? Why, Kountry Kart Deli of course! Being open 20 hours a day, KKD is the place for late night grub.
The Rise’n’Shiner — bacon, egg, cheese, and hash brown on a Kaiser roll — is equal parts greasy, filling, and delicious. The tiny shop offers no space to sit, so you eat your food across the street in City Hall Park, huddled under the awning of the Flynn, or, classy as always, on the curb.
2. City Market
While most usually stop into City Market with a mission for grabbing some quick food, locals know you will always come out with WAY more than you planned. The first stop is the sandwich bar where you load up a Myers bagel with hummus and unlimited vegetables for just $3.99. Then a quick glance around the hot bar and you get sucked into a few of the sides such as the Amaranth and Grain Pilaf, the Braised Cabbage with Cider Glaze and North Country Bacon, Mexican Mac N Cheese and some Green Bean Almondine, so you make a little paper box of food. Then you look at the beer cooler and see a bottle of Switchback and some Heady Topper you want, so you pick that up as well. Before you know it, your arms are overflowing with food and your wallet is about to be significantly lighter. At least you know you will be eating well later!
3. Magnolia Bistro
There are so many places in Burlington that do brunch well, so choosing where to go for a Sunday morning meal is a tough decision for locals to have to make. Magnolia Bistro almost always wins, because not only do they do brunch well, they completely nail it. With the spacious interior and homey, welcoming vibe, it is super easy to forget that you are actually in a basement.
Sipping a late morning cocktail of mimosas or Bloody Mary’s while chowing down on the ‘Bo Knows Best Breakfast’ of eggs, toast, and oatmeal pancakes is the Sunday late morning meal of choice for many a hungover local.
4. American Flatbread
You can never go wrong with pizza and beer. Particularly, freshly-made flatbread pizza and house-brewed craft beer, which is what you get at American Flatbread. After squeezing through the entryway on a busy Saturday night, finally taking a seat at a table facing the wood-burning stove is a great feeling. It gets even better when you get to watch your pizza creation come to life in front of you while sipping one of the creative brews from Zero Gravity.
5. Penny Cluse
This breakfast/brunch/lunch joint is one of the few places in town where a crowd gathers just about every morning of the week and locals and visitors dine peacefully together. Penny Cluse is far from elaborate. They don’t dish out exotic meals. They do American comfort food, and they do it well. This local’s choice? The bucket-of-spuds, a big ol’ serving of potatoes covered in salsa, cheese, sour cream and onions.
6. Al’s French Fries
Before all of the chain restaurants came to town, there was only one place to get fast food here — Al’s French Fries. Delighting Burlington residents since the 1940s, Al’s does not look like it has been updated since its opening, but that just adds to the appeal.
The food is greasy and comforting. The service is fast and friendly, and there are plenty of seating options. Lines out the door won’t bother you at all because they shuffle orders in and out so fast! When the ice cream window opens for the season, locals hightail it up Williston road to get a bite of some of the best ice cream in town.
7. Burlington Bay Market & Cafe
The food at Burlington Bay is tasty enough; the sandwiches and side salads definitely make for a decent lunch, though the main draw of this shop at the bottom of Main Street is definitely the creemees: vanilla, chocolate, maple and black raspberry. Getting one of these creamy (hence the name) treats on a hot summer day is heaven, especially when you enjoy it on the deck facing Lake Champlain.
8. Myer’s Bagels
The first time you lay eyes on a Myer’s bagel, you may be taken aback. That skinny thing? No thanks! This is when you must fight the urge to turn and run down the street to Feldmans, as to not indulge in a Myer’s bagel while in Burlington is a sin.
Myer’s bagels, made sans eggs, dipped in honey, boiled, then fire roasted, is the breakfast to have any morning of the week. Watching the bagels appear before your eyes, then loading up on those bagels, “to share”, for later is the ultimate Myer’s Bagel experience.
9. Burlington Farmer’s Market
Each Saturday morning from May to October just about everyone who lives in Burlington makes it down to the farmer’s market in City Hall Park. It doesn’t matter how many years and how many weekends you go to this outdoor market, you never grow tired of it. From browsing Dug Nap prints in the artist’s market to searching tables for free samples to finally deciding on a meal (which, let’s face it, always ends up being from the Samosa Man), the ambiance of the farmer’s market represents laid back Burlington so well.
10. Pho Hong
If I were giving out awards for restaurants in Burlington, Pho Hong would take home the prize for quite a few. Or at just one really wordy trophy:
Best affordable/authentic/Vietnamese/family-run/hole in the wall restaurant.
Its spot, in the Old North End, means it’s not getting foot traffic from the folks exploring downtown. Those of us that make it to Pho Hong seek it out based on recommendations or because we know from experience that it’s going to be a good meal. The fresh ingredients, the large wall of windows, and friendly service makes Pho Hong one of the top local spots in BTV.
11. The Farmhouse
Good beer? Check. Local ingredients? Check. Welcoming ambiance? Check. These three things are essential to a quality Burlington restaurant, and The Farmhouse fits the bill. With arguably the best selection of craft beer in Burlington (hello Lawson’s, Hill Farmstead & Heady Topper) and just about all items sourced from local farms, the food and drink selection is the cream of the crop in Burlington.
The Vermont Heritage Grazers pork burger topped with an egg and kimchi, washed down with a tall glass of Hill Farmstead’s Pale Ale Edward, is a meal you will not soon forget. This alone is enough to warrant making the trip to Burlington.