There are many perks about living in a small state – minimal traffic, shorter lines, and less waiting to name a few. There are simply less people to make a crowd and sometimes the restaurants reflect that. But there are some places that you may have to wait for a table if you don’t have a reservation, if you can get in at all.
Thankfully there aren’t many restaurants with a 30 day waiting period, so if you call ahead you should be OK. However, sometimes reservations aren’t accepted and there may be a wait. And still, some may have no lines, but it will take a little extra time to get there since it’s off the beaten path. Regardless of
why it takes a little longer, these 15 restaurants are totally worth it.
1. Penny Cluse Cafe - 169 Cherry St, Burlington, VT.
You may wait 20 minutes (or more on the weekends) but it’s totally worth it for one of the best breakfasts and lunches you’ll ever have. Or have the best of both worlds and go for brunch! Their Apple Bread French Toast and the Gingerbread Pancakes alone are worth the wait.
2. American Flatbread - 115 St. Paul Street, Burlington, VT.
It's so much fun watching the beautiful brick oven cook the flatbreads right in front of you, which is good because sometimes you may have to wait (especially Thursday nights). After all it’s a college town, but the good beer and casual atmosphere are so welcoming that you’ll be happy to extend your experience here. From the plain flatbread to something more adventurous such as the Punctuated Equilibrium, these flatbreads have won the hearts of Vermonters for sure.
3. The Farmhouse Tap & Grill - 160 Bank Street, Burlington, VT.
This popular spot sometimes has a long wait, but if you luck out you can be seated quickly. If you’re looking for an authentic Vermont experience, the Farmhouse will not disappoint. The food is fresh, organic and well presented. Be sure to end your meal with the maple cheesecake.
4. T. J. Buckleys - 132 Eliot St, Brattleboro, VT.
T.J. Buckley’s is a teeny, tiny restaurant in an old fashioned train car. It may be hard to get a table but when you do you can watch the chefs in the kitchen making of the most beautiful and tasty dinners. The salads are small works of art and don’t miss the pate plate appetizer. Main courses always come with interesting accompaniments at this gem of a place.
5. Peter Havens Restaurant - 32 Elliot St, Brattleboro, VT.
If you’re waiting at your table with questions about the menu, be patient – you’ll appreciate the time the staff takes when it’s your turn. They are always friendly and willing to describe every dish in detail. The hickory smoked salmon over a bed of risotto has been receiving rave reviews and it’s probably the best salmon you’ll ever eat... anywhere! Call for reservations first as this place is popular for good reason.
6. Silver fork - 4201 Main St. (Route 7A), Manchester, VT.
Snagging a table might be difficult at the Silver Fork since they only have 6 tables and 5 seats at the bar. If you’re lucky enough to secure a seat, you’ll be treated to a wonderful meal and even better conversation. The owners, Melody and Mark (the chef), are famous not only for their food, but their welcoming atmosphere as they are always on hand with helpful suggestions. Prepare yourself for wonderful food, a nice wine selection, creative cocktails, attentive service and a lovely ambiance. With only 26 seats, the menu is extensive and varied, reflecting the chef's culinary experience in Baltimore, Germany and Puerto Rico. Who wouldn’t enjoy a goat cheese soufflé with fig jam followed by the osso bucco and a portabello mushroom stuffed with lobster? Reservations here are a must.
7. Kismet - 52 State St, Montpelier, VT.
Kismet, located in downtown Montpelier, is the perfect combination of cozy, hip and romantic at the same time. The red snapper is amazing… a little crust on the top, while the rest is perfectly flakey. The seasoning of all dishes is out of this world.
8. Simon Pearce (The Mill at Quechee) - 1760 Main Street, Quechee.
If you don’t have a reservation here, there’s plenty to keep you occupied while you wait. Enjoy watching the artisans blow and create glass objects of beauty in this charming New England setting next to a stunning waterfall. The starters are all excellent with the prosciutto earning an honorable mention. Beautiful plating makes the food as stunning as the art. Enjoy imaginative cocktails such as the caper berry martini and finish your meal with a classic dessert such as their wonderful crème brulee.
9. Big Fatty’s BBQ - 186 South Main Street, Hartford, VT.
Who said only fine dining is worth the wait? The delay at Big Fatty’s is getting there since it’s a bit out of the way, but if you like BBQ then it’s worth the trip. The beef brisket, despite the name of the restaurant, is not fatty at all. Combine that with the mac & cheese which is mouthwateringly cheesy and delicious, and the beans which are cooked perfectly with a bit of heat.
10. Ledgewood Yurt - High Ridge Trail, Killington, VT.
The Ledgewood Yurt isn’t your regular restaurant, folks, this is an experience and must be booked well in advance. The evening begins when you check-in at the Snowshed lodge and enjoy a complimentary hot cider drink. Once your group is all checked-in, you are issued blankets and brought out to a sleigh, which is pulled up the slope by a sno-cat. The sleigh arrives at the Yurt at around 7, after a 30 minute ride or so, so be sure to dress warmly since the blankets help, but can only do so much.
Dining is a 5-course meal, and Chef Matt's cooking chops are definitely up to the task. The Yurt is not a typical dining experience, nor is it a place you can walk into hoping to score a table. The seating is at tables of 6-8 and is cafeteria style, so unless it's a light evening, expect to be sitting with other people.
That said, the food is outstanding, and the experience is definitely worthy of a special occasion and, if you haven’t guessed, reservations are required.
11. Mojo Café - 106 Main Street, Ludlow, VT.
The Mojo Café might not be on everyone’s radar, but it’s worth a side trip for the food. No matter what you try – the catfish taco, lobster taco, shrimp taco, they are all fantastic! Best chicken burrito around and awesome slaw on the side.
12. Jessica’s at Swift House Inn Restaurant - 25 Stewart Lane, Middlebury, VT.
No reservations? Enjoy a vino at the bar before being seated at Jessica’s. The menu is exciting but it’s the wine list that shines here. For wine lovers, this selection is a dream. Jessica’s has a beautiful location, gorgeous dining room, great crab cakes as well as engaging bartenders. An outdoor deck overlooks the gorgeous grounds which adds seating (and less wait) in nice weather. For winter dining, be sure to request a table in the dining room next to the fire to add ambiance in the cold weather.
13. Hen of The Wood - 92 Stowe Street, Waterbury, VT.
Reservations are highly recommended at this favorite of both travelers and locals alike. The service is consistently impeccable and the staff is always attentive to your needs. Everything, and I mean everything is wonderful here, so if you can’t decide, try about 6 of the small plates (mind you the portions are generous) and enjoy as your taste buds explode in an exploration of flavor and freshness.
14. Black Sheep Bistro - 253 Main St, Vergennes, VT.
This outstanding restaurant is the #1 choice restaurant in Chittenden County and the town of Vergennes. The meals are consistently mouth-watering great, and the garlic mashed potatoes, served family style, are to die for.
15. Popolo - 36 The Square, Bellows Falls, VT.
This is the place to go for great coffee, great atmosphere and amazing food. The chili rubbed ribeye, both tender and tasty, along with pork tenderloin served with roasted beets and sauté kale, mushroom ravioli and the vegetarian dish are all excellent. You can wait here for the earth to shake… literally! Periodically the room shakes as freight trains pass under the building! Don't be alarmed it's not an earthquake!!
What restaurants do you enjoy that are totally worth waiting for? Please share with your fellow foodies!