My Black Book
The Spot with its wacky surf theme, or the forever tasty (and very busy) Penny Cluse for breakfast/brunch. Pizzeria Verità for its wood-fired flatbreads and innovative small plates. Hen of the Wood of Waterbury has opened a sister establishment in the beautiful new boutique Hotel Vermont, and the food is just as amazing as at the original. Either the Trattoria Delia (with a terrific wine list) or L’Amante (wonderful service) for Italian, although the “Trat”’s aesthetic wins my vote on any day.
Leunig’s Bistro has been for years, and will likely remain, the closest to alluring-French-bistro as you’ll find in Burlington proper, not to mention the best spot to people watch while listening to some solid local jazz acts. A Single Pebble provides irresistible Chinese cuisine, and Pho Hong is the absolute winner for a reasonably priced and delicious BYOB Vietnamese establishment.
Radio Bean wins over a diverse, bohemian crowd, wanting great live music in a coffeehouse/bar. Speaking of coffee houses, Speeder & Earls (the Pine Street location is a nice spot to dwindle in) for coffee although it’s hard to choose with Church Street’s Uncommon Grounds, Main Street’s Muddy Waters, the waterfront’s Maglianero (where you’ll also see some hip local art), and the Old North End’s Chubby Muffin (The Burlington crowd certainly supports its coffee houses). Mirabelle’s wins the pastries and desserts award (and hosts quite a crowd for both breakfast and lunch), and New Moon Café sells the best mini-cupcakes for at least 100 miles, plus some solid juiced drinks, and to-die-for iced coffee.
Best burger? The Shopping Bag wins the award for extreme, the Farmhouse Tap & Grill for its clearly local (and, therefore, superior) beef and Beansie's Bus parked adjacent to the Northern End of Battery Park for landmark food truck (I mean, yellow school bus).
Claiming a Mexican favorite seems an uphill battle – El Gato Cantina and El Cortijo seem to battle for each other’s followings, with El Gato currently ahead. For quick Mexican, New World Tortilla on Pine Street, and Chipotle are running neck-in-neck, but because us Burlingtonians always side with the little guy, New World may cross the finish line first.
Shalimar of India on North Winooski wins the best Indian title and Thai Phat surpasses all for ethnic grocers (we're all trying our hand at cooking Asian).
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