Burlington’s best bakery should be on your list of early-day destinations. Seven days a week, August First turns out an impressive array of treats in an old garage-turned-sprawling bakery. With hearty loaves of bread in flavors like our fave (jalapeño cheddar), to soups, salads, bowls, and sandwiches, you’ll understand why locals have voted it “Best Lunch” in the local Seven Days newspaper. Linger with a coffee and a croissant, cookie, or scone (try the ham, cheddar, and chive version). The seasonal treats are also always worth sampling—if it’s autumn, don’t miss the chocolate chip pumpkin bread.
This warm, brick-walled downtown Burlington restaurant is a cousin of Flatbread Co., a pizza chain with more than a dozen locations from Davis Square to Maui. But American Flatbread is the real deal, with its earthen-dome oven firing up farm-fresh flatbreads like Punctuated Equilibrium, a vegetarian delight with roasted red pepper, red onion, kalamata olives, and dollops of snow-white Vermont chèvre; and a bar program anchored by a lineup of house-brewed craft beers. Flatbread founder George Schenk started slinging pies in the late 1980s, and soon became just as well-known for his quirky artwork and essays that pay homage to food revolutions and civil disobedience. You don’t have to be a hippie to get down with his pizza: You just have to love thin, charred crusts, creative toppings, and the highest-quality Vermont cheeses and meats sourced straight from the farm.
Burlington is blessed with a beautiful waterfront. The high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains tower over Lake Champlain, turning blue and purple as the sun sets behind them. And after strolling along those lakeside paths—a must during your Burlington visit—there’s no better spot to step into than Foam Brewers. With an open, airy setting in a historic brick building (and a terrace out front with a smaller, summertime bar), this brewery also boasts an in-house restaurant, Deep City. Foam crafts hazy IPAs, sours, and lagers often using Vermont-grown fruit, and Deep City dishes up snacks like a curated Cheese Slate with August First bread and Wood-Roasted Onion Dip with crunchy chili oil, crispy shallots, and kettle chips.
James Beard Award-nominated chef-owner Cara Chigazola Tobin highlights the best of what grows in Vermont at her Church Street restaurant through the colorful lens of Eastern Mediterranean meze. The Honey Road creator once worked for acclaimed chef Ana Sortun at Cambridge jewel box Oleana, and visitors may note similarities, like the menu glossary. Honey Road also boasts a tahini-makes-everything-better ethos—all the way through to the Tahini Sundae, a must-order masterpiece topped with sesame caramel and crumbled halva. Vegetarian options abound, particularly during harvest season, but don’t skip the Sweet Harissa Chicken Wings. Served with dried lime labneh for dipping, these sticky-spicy-sweet wings are finger-licking favorites. (Note: Honey Road reopens October 6, 2021, following a well-deserved summer break.)
Hen of the Wood
Chef Eric Warnstedt rose to prominence in the early aughts for creating Hen of the Wood in a former grist mill in the Green Mountains. We recommend a stop at the Waterbury original during your jaunt up or down I-89, but barring that, the Burlington outpost is Vermont’s ultimate farm-to-table destination. The veggie-focused apps are shareable, but if there’s a time to get your own three-course meal, this is it. Think Swordfish with Romesco sauce, shishitos, and pickled green tomatoes; and Wood-Fire Roasted Broccoli with roasted peppers, sweet corn, and sunflower seeds. (And cheese, always cheese!) Whatever you decide, make sure to order the Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast. A thick slab of grilled bread topped with the namesake spores, bacon, and a poached egg, it’s one of the only staples on the menu, so you know it’s going to be good. Pair it with a natural wine from Shelburne Vineyard or La Garagista for a true taste of Vermont terroir.
Misery Loves Co.
Think of Winooski as kind of like the Somerville of Burlington. A calmer respite from the college-town scene and throngs of tourists across the Winooski River, the once-industrial city bordering Burlington has welcomed a steady flow of late-20- and early-30-somethings in the past decade, and good food has followed them. Misery Loves Co. is one of the new originals, now operating as a market and patio (no indoor dining) providing sloppy-good sandwiches, top-shelf drinks, and high-quality comfort food. Sure, they come packaged in plastic these days, but you’ll sip some of Vermont’s best cocktails (we love the smoked-salt-spiked MLC Margarita and the best-in-Vermont Bloody Mary) and snack on a perfect Steak Tartare. Fried Chicken, meanwhile, is cooked to a juicy crisp and served with honey butter. You can also try it boneless and stacked on a sandwich like the Rough Francis, a hot sauce-laden behemoth (named for a legendary local band) on a sourdough bun with creamy blue cheese dressing, chopped lettuce, and pickles.
Updated by Jacqueline Cain