Our area boasts a considerable and diverse number of restaurants per capita, many of them exceptional. The following short reviews of some of our favorites are meant to help you find a starting place on your quest for Vermont’s finest.
The Barn Door Restaurant — At the 1824 House Inn, 2150 Main St., Waitsfield. This farm-to-table restaurant serves carefully prepared, affordable, local food. Chef Luke Stone and his crew of creative chefs cure their own meats, bake their own breads, and preserve local vegetables — everything from scratch. The rafters of the rustic barn are lined with canned goods such as homemade tomato sauce and pickled zucchini. The restaurant’s owners, Connie and Dean Mendell, say they believe in strong communities and great meals shared with good company; the Barn Door reflects this sensibility. The menu is divided into small plates (like shrimp and grits with Vermont cheese and house-cured tasso — Cajun-seasoned meat hard to find outside of Louisiana), medium plates (think gnocchi or fried chicken with collard greens), and large plates (such as house-smoked andouille or pan-seared lamb loin). Thursday through Monday, 5 to 9 p.m.; www.thebarndoorvt.com or www.1824house.com; (802) 496-7555.Healthy Living Café — 222 Dorset St., South Burlington. Healthy Living’s fare has expanded considerably since 1986, when the owner put out a Crock-Pot of vegetarian chili to entice customers shopping its aisles. Since moving a few years ago to its new, airy, and beautiful space, Healthy Living and its café have garnered a well-deserved reputation for an eclectic mix of foods, served to hundreds of shoppers and diners every day, including Sunday brunch with live music. The café’s staff has grown to 40, and the menu features ethnic specialties; vegetarian and vegan options; local meats; custom-built sandwiches and panini; and breads, desserts, and pastries from the in-house bakery. Hands-on classes and demos are conducted regularly. The menu changes frequently, but always offers fare that’s pleasing to the eye as well as the tongue and the soul. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; hot bar lunch/dinner 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday brunch 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. www.healthylivingsupermarket.com/cafe; (802) 863-2569. 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” by several local surveys. Leonardo’s recently introduced organic whole wheat dough made with King Arthur organic flour. A member of the Vermont Fresh Network and Local First Vermont, Leonardo’s offers traditional, gourmet, and vegetarian pizzas; salads; bread sticks; and five 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. Asian Bistro — 121 Connor Way, Williston, and 25 Winooski Falls Way, Winooski. This authentic Asian restaurant specializes in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food, beautifully presented and served in comfortable surroundings. In addition to sushi and sashimi (made at the sushi bar) and a broad menu of traditional Asian dishes are chef’s specialties such as duck with black bean and ginger sauce, prawns with honeyed walnuts, and Thai pork loin. A full bar features Asian beers, sake, and cocktail specials like Japanese slipper or Tokyo cosmo. You can dine in or order takeout. The two locations — in Maple Tree Place and downtown Winooski — have parking nearby. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. www.asianbistrovt.net; Williston, (802) 878-8878; Winooski, (802) 655-9800. Junior’s Italian — Two locations: 85 South Park Drive, Colchester, left from Exit 16 off I-89 North; and 176 Main St., downtown Burlington. Known as “Vermont’s Little Italy,” Junior’s is family-owned and -operated, offering classic recipes from the Old Country. This destination spot for authentic Italian has something for everyone: casual fine dining (inside or out), traditional pizzeria, scrumptious bakery, full-service bar, Wi-Fi, and space for private events. Open for lunch and dinner; dinner reservations recommended. For dining room/reservations (802) 655-0000; pizzeria, take-out and delivery (802) 655-5555; catering and bakery (802) 655-5282; downtown Burlington (802) 862-1234. For more information and menu, go to www.juniorsvt.com. Leunig’s Bistro — 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 — On the green at Maple Tree Place, Williston’s Mexicali Authentic Mexican Grill is a popular spot for lovers of the true, tangy flavors of Mexico. Inexpensive and casual, its menu covers the basics, with interesting variations on burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, tamales, nachos, chiles rellenos, and quesadillas. Try one of the homemade salsas, with your choice of zing ranging from mild to XXX hot. Daily specials on food and drinks. Awesome food and fantastic margaritas. Catering available. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Two doors down from the Majestic Theater. Stop in before the movie or after the show. www.mexicalivt.net; (802) 879-9492. Inn at Shelburne Farms — 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne. One of Gourmet magazine’s “Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in 2007.” The restaurant showcases food of the season, grown sustainably at Shelburne Farms and on local Vermont farms. Menus reflect classic culinary techniques and traditions with regional influences, and incorporate the freshest ingredients including Shelburne Farms’ own Cheddar cheese, made from the milk of its Brown Swiss herd. The Marble Dining Room and its terrace are open to the public for breakfast, dinner, and Sunday brunch. They provide a spectacular view of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, and the formal gardens of the historic Inn, built in the 1880s as the home of the Webb family, who founded Shelburne Farms. Open May 6 through Oct. 17. Reservations required: 985-8498. www.shelburnefarms.org. Toscano Café/Bistro — 27 Bridge St., Richmond. Opened by chef Jon Fath, a 1995 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, and his wife, Lucie Bolduc-Fath, this cozy little bistro offers Old World charm in downtown Richmond, just 20 minutes from Burlington. Fresh flowers on the tables and soft candlelight create a romantic ambiance. The menu features rustic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh seafood and veal, fine Italian wines, and Vermont microbrews. Crab cakes and Prince Edward Island mussels are favorite appetizers. Entrées include wild mushroom ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce, baked haddock Provencal with grilled polenta, butternut squash gnocci with Calvidos, and chef’s choice beef tenderloin filet. Soups and desserts are made in-house. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner Tuesday through Sunday; brunch Sundays. (802) 434-3148. 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. The Windjammer — 1076 Williston Road, South Burlington. Specializing in steak, seafood, and prime rib, The Windjammer has been a local favorite for over 30 years. The beef is aged for 4 to 6 weeks for optimum flavor, marbling, and tenderness. The prime rib is seasoned and slow-roasted all day, making it one of the house favorites. The seafood is as fresh as you can find anywhere. Each entrée includes a trip to the boat-shaped salad bar with over 40 items of the freshest local produce available. An extensive wine list with more than 100 labels has been selected to complement the menu. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; dinner Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations suggested. (802) 862-6585. www.WindjammerRestaurant.com. •