Vermont’s restaurant scene represents a panoply of regional and international flavors. It’s possible to take a tour of the world without leaving the state. To help you embark, we have gathered, in the next few pages, a small taste to whet your appetite. We’ve included a short write-up of each restaurant to get you started. Bon appétit.
The South End Kitchen — 716 Pine St., Burlington. The South End Kitchen at Lake Champlain Chocolates is a café, education kitchen, and home to Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. Open daily, the café features breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, Lake Champlain Chocolates’ ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, and an extensive list of coffees, specialty iced drinks, and house-made donuts. Abundant seating and a covered patio make the café an easy place to gather with friends or meet business associates. The adjacent education kitchen offers cooking classes and community events and can host private gatherings. (802) 864-0505 www.southendkitchenvt.com
The Spot — 210 Shelburne Road, Burlington. This surfy little place in a 1950s Phillips 66 batwing gas station building offers an experience you won’t find elsewhere in Vermont: surfboards, palm trees, and tropical fish. Think “West Coast of New England” vacation ambiance. The menu is fresh, local, and colorful. Try the Huevos Rancheros for breakfast or, for lunch, The Peahi fish tacos. How does a Two Wave Hold Down sound for dinner? The dinner menu changes seasonally, and starts at 5 p.m. with a full bar, Switchback and Fiddlehead on draft, and a healthy selection of wines. Open seven days a week at 7 a.m. Breakfast and lunch daily; dinner, Wednesday through Sunday. On-site parking and free Wi-Fi. (802) 540-1778; www.thespotvt.com.
Pauline’s Café and Restaurant — 1834 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. Chef David Hoene is the creative energy behind one of the area’s best-known chef-owned restaurants. Pauline’s has been serving locals and tourists alike for over 30 years. Whether you’re seeking an intimate dinner for two or entertaining large groups of family, friends, or clients, the restaurant offers a fine-dining experience in a casual, comfortable environment. Menus feature many locally raised or foraged edibles from the Lake Champlain basin. Famous for its Maine crab cakes, Pauline’s also offers local free-range chicken, organic American beef, and farm-fresh vegetables in season. The wine list is carefully chosen to complement the food and features many biodynamic and organically produced wines from around the world. Dining options include a casual café; relaxed, elegant upstairs dining rooms; two private party rooms; an outdoor patio in season; and a cozy bar. All dining venues are wheelchair accessible. Reservations are recommended. (802) 862-1081; www.paulinescafe.com.
Leunig’s Bistro & Café — 115 Church St., on the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington. Experience Leunig’s and you’ll believe its motto: “The spirit of an Old World café in the heart of downtown Burlington.” It has charming decor, creative food, and a well-appointed bar. At the corner of Church and College streets, Leunig’s offers a prime spot for downtown people-watching (or for being seen). Leunig’s special-blend coffee and fresh orange juice make a great start for Saturday or Sunday. Serving lunch, dinner, and brunch. Open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (802) 863-3759. www.leunigsbistro.com.
Mexicali Grill & Cantina — On the green at Maple Tree Place, Williston. The price is right at this popular casual restaurant two doors down from the Majestic 10 movie theater. You’ll find all of the tangy flavors of Mexico, including the basics, daily specials, and interesting variations on a long list of classics plus house specialties such as chipotle chicken, chorizo Santa Fe, jalapeño poppers, chiles rellenos, and signature buffalo nachos. Tortilla chips are homemade and served with unlimited, seasonal salsas with zing ranging from mild to XXX at the one-of-a-kind salsa bar. Among the offerings at the bar are cool margaritas and sangria or Mexican beer. Open Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. (802) 879-9492. www.mexicalivt.net.
The Windjammer — 1076 Williston Road, South Burlington. Locally owned and operated for over 35 years, The Windjammer claims to be Burlington’s original steak and seafood restaurant. In addition to classic American fare, the menu offers vegetarian and gluten free options, and an extensive salad bar. Specialty cocktails, craft beers, and a Wine Spectator wine list complement both the restaurant and pub menus. The restaurant has supported Vermont farms, producers, and businesses since 1977. (802) 862-6585. www.WindjammerRestaurant.com.
The Upper Deck Pub — South Burlington. Located above the Windjammer Restaurant is a family-friendly, sports-themed pub that offers its own, extensive menu featuring steak and seafood plus a great selection of burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers. Complementing the menu is the Upper Deck’s broad wine list and a variety of microbrews on draft. (802) 862-6585. www.windjammerrestaurant.com/upper-deck-pub/
Toscano Café/Bistro — 27 Bridge St., Richmond. Opened in 2003 by Chef Jon Fath and his wife, Lucie Bolduc-Fath, this cozy little bistro offers Old World charm in downtown Richmond, a short, 20-minute drive from Burlington. Lace curtains, fresh flowers, and the soft glow of candlelight create a romantic ambience. Toscano’s Rustic Mediterranean menu features fresh seafood, local and imported cheeses, made-in-house desserts, fine Italian wines, and Vermont microbrews. Enjoy favorite appetizers like crispy artichoke hearts with lemon aioli or roasted beet carpaccio with baby arugula. Dinner entrées include the house-made sweet Italian sausage with roasted peppers, and vegetarian options such as handmade ricotta gnocci with Vermont chèvre. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday; brunch Sundays. Call for reservations and info: (802) 434-3148. www.toscanocafe.com
Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza — 18 Taft Corners Shopping Plaza, Williston. Aficionados of genuine New York pizza need to check out Ramunto’s. The Williston location is a small, but flavor-packed source of from-scratch pizzas and calzones (including the 5-pound Cal-Mungo), hot and cold subs, intricate salads, and local micro-brews. The dough, made fresh every morning, is hand-tossed only when you order it. Pizzas are available in 16-inch traditional New York pies, The Sicilian, The Stuffed, The Pesto Pie (nut-free), and The Garlic Knot; slices are cut from larger 20-inch pies. There’s a long list of specialty pies and a topping lineup to satisfy every taste. Open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. (802) 879-1000; www.ramuntos.com.
Joyce’s Noodle House — 5 Carmichael St., Essex Junction. For dining in or takeout, Joyce Fong, the chef-owner of Joyce’s Noodle House, creates lip-smackingly authentic Chinese dishes generous with vegetables. Joyce’s will make any menu item a vegetarian one on request. Specialties are dim sum Mandarin-style, Cantonese meat, spicy Szechuan and Hunan dishes, and noodles — soft, crispy, fried, in soups — delicious noodles. The menu includes several Thai dishes, and combination dinners are served all day. Full bar. No MSG is used, and Joyce’s cooks with only 100% vegetable oil. Prices are reasonable, and credit cards are accepted. (802) 288-9828. www.joycesnoodlehouse.com.
Leonardo’s Pizza — 83 Pearl St., Burlington; 1160 Williston Road, South Burlington. Leonardo’s Pizza is a local, family-owned and -operated company established in 1990. It has been voted “Best Pizza Delivery” by Seven Days’ readers. Leonardo’s offers a pizza with whole wheat–dough crust made daily with King Arthur organic flour. A member of Local First Vermont, Leonardo’s offers traditional, gourmet, and vegetarian pizzas; salads; bread sticks; and six flavors of chicken wings. Free delivery, business charge accounts, and online ordering at www.leonardosonline.com. Open seven days a week: Burlington, (802) 862-7700; South Burlington and Winooski, (802) 951-9000. • To make your restaurant part of the next Dining Out, call (802) 862-4109.