Haven's Guide to the Kingdom
- 98 Mill: Freshly opened in 2023, 98 Mill offers comforting Italian American dishes, beer, wine, and a full bar. The appetizers are delicious and bright (especially the fried calamari with sweet drop peppers) and the patio overlooking the river is certainly the star of the show. For being a town with so many beautiful waterways, we are sadly lacking access, so dining along the Passumpsic River is certainly a treat.
- Anthony's Diner: A St. J staple, Anthony's offers unpretentious and reliable diner food. I'm a creature of habit and love to get their veggie omelet with homefries. The vintage wooden booths are worth a visit in their own right!
- Boule: Sourdough fanatics rejoice! Boule opened in 2021 and immediately became a regional favorite. Their freshly baked sourdough loaves are delicious and their cardamom buns and perfectly salted chocolate chip cookies are to die for.
- Kingdom Table: Kingdom Table is a great, in-town date night spot any time of year (even if the special someone taking out is yourself!). They have cozy seating indoors, a comfortable bar, and a great sidewalk patio with an awning to enjoy our busiest street in the warmer months. Their burgers are mouth watering and the truffle fries are the bomb with garlic aioli.
- Whirligig Brewing: I am so excited to add Whirligig Brewing to my dining recommendations list! They built out a full kitchen over the last year and greatly expanded their offerings. The Pork Sambal bowl is incredible and the fact that they have a delicious bottle of Pet Nat available for $30? They meant it when they updated their slogan to, "More than beer."
- Miss Lyndonville Diner: Arguably the best diner in the Northeast Kingdom, Miss Lyndonville has a perfectly untouched vintage interior, hearty portions, and pricing so good you'll want to try one of everything. I definitely recommend bringing a group, big appetites, or both for this stop.
- Pizza Man: 50 cent wings on Monday nights, need I say more?
- Sweet Basil: If you can catch Sweet Basil when they're open, it's well worth the stop. It's got a great atmosphere, great portions, and even better flavors. Owned by a caterer, this business definitely knows what they're doing when developing dishes.
- Burke Publick House: If you're looking for reliable American dining, this is the spot. They have a patio in the warmer months that's onlooking Kingdom Trails, live music on weekends, and deliver consistency in exactly the way you want from a local spot you frequent.
- Tomassoni's Bistro: Tomassoni's is a quaint little joint that offers pizza, gyros, and salads. They don't have a bar but are situated directly over Hazel's Taproom so you can order your food to-go and drink some beers downstairs while you wait for your meal.
- Caja Madera: Easily the best tacos in the Northeast Kingdom. That's all you need to know. (If you're here between Memorial and Labor Day, do not miss their Margarita Monday night pop-ups at Highland Lodge.)
- The Cork + Fork: This space has a charming interior and prime real estate in one of the most charming NEK towns, Hardwick. The menu delivers in a perfectly uncomplicated way and the drinks are well made.
- Blackbird Bistro: Delicious burgers, inspired craft cocktails, and wonderful staff all wrapped up in a beautifully renovated farmhouse surrounded by idyllic scenery, this Bistro won't disappoint.
- The Genny: The Craftsbury General Store (and their location in Albany) offer excellent made-to-order food items and have a well-stocked and well-rounded prepared foods fridge. They also carry Elmore Mountain Bread which is *chef's kiss* perfect.
- Parker Pie: You're doing it wrong if you visit the Northeast Kingdom and don't make a visit to Parker Pie. This place (started by locals in 2001) has become quite the destination for beer nerds and folks in search of delicious pizza. Prepare to wait an hour plus for a pizza if you go during peak times but don't miss ordering apps while you wait and any of the incredible beers they have on draft (including Hill Farmstead).
- Boule: After the shuttering of Central Cafe and Cosmic Cup in 2023 and 2024, Boule is officially the St. J stop for coffee and espresso beverages. They carry local roastery, "Roasted" and offer a wide variety of teas and syrups for flavored espresso drinks.
- Whirligig Brewing: In my "Eat" category, I plug Whirligig's menu but I'd be remiss to fail to mention their delicious beer selection. All brewed in house, their flavor profiles feature local, seasonal ingredients and inventive flavor profiles. Plus, their owners are delightful and incredibly committed to their community. Beyond beers, they've got a newly improved wine selection, a variety of sakes (a nod to Chef Geoff's Japanese heritage), and non-alcoholic offerings.
- Hazel's Taproom: Another new business on the list, Hazel's opened in 2023 and has officially cemented itself as a local watering hole in Burke. They are underneath the Village Inn and have a relaxed ambience, games for playing, and a great draft list.
- Frontseat Coffee: With a welcoming atmosphere, Frontseat is a cornerstone community space serving the best coffee in the Northeast Kingdom. They're a Carrier Roasting stockist and keep drip reliably brewed and consistently pulled espresso shots. They've also got a pop-up at the Crafstbury Outdoor Center in the winter if Nordic Skiing is your thing!
- Birdsong Beer + Wine: Birdsong is a queer owned bottle shop in the NEK with impressive yet thoughtful variety of, you guessed it, beer and wine. They also have a strong selection of non-alcoholic craft bevs for our alcohol free brethren.
- Hill Farmstead Brewery: It's hard to imagine you haven't heard of Hill Farmstead if the Northeast Kingdom is on your radar. Their consecutive years of world-renowned brewing has made the NEK a longtime destination for beer nerds. (Not to mention the plot of land the brewery is on is absolutely gorgeous, especially when you can sit on the porch or the lawn in the warmer months.)
- The Genny: Here they are again. The Genny is owned by a group of three women who know what our rural communities are missing! They have equipped the shop with a fully stocked wine wall that offers mostly natural biodynamic wines with a great selection of locally made bottles. Vermont is the future of wine, after all ;)
- Parker Pie: Come for the pizza, stay for the beer, trivia, or live music in the yard!
- Dirt Church: Another local brewery, dirt church is adjacent a very small, beautifully restored church. Their brewery has the coziest vibe and has become a serious destination for the mountain biking community. They've also become a little hole in the wall for some local string instrument players to jam so, while I don't partake in the musicality, I'll certainly hang with the crowd and enjoy a beer or two.
- Dog Mountain: Stephen Huneck's Gallery and Gift Shop also offers weekly concerts in the summer, miles of well maintained walking trails for you and your furry friends, and an emotional shrine to the furry friends we've lost.
- Lamoille Valley Rail Trail: St. J is the head of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, a 93-mile trail that spans the breadth of Northern Vermont from the Connecticut River Valley to Lake Champlain.
- Gold Crown Lanes: Love to bowl while listening to Papa Roach and Evanescence? This is my favorite place to do just that. With arguably the best dive bar in town, and a BYOFood situation, Gold Crown Lanes is perfect for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure night of fun for people of all ages.
- Kingdom Trails: I don't mountain bike, but people really seem to love this stuff.
- Burke Mountain: Whether you hike, ski, or snowboard, Burke is a charming little hill that has a sweet little bar and regular Rocky's Hot Dogs pop-ups. Pro tip: On Wednesdays during non-peak travel weeks, groups of *three* ride all day for $45.
- Shonyo Park (Lyndon Outing Club): Home to a tiny skatepark, this midcentury gem of a rope-tow mountain is a great little community gathering space.
- The Civic Standard: Tap in to the Civic Standard, a local non-profit that hosts community events, workshops, and gatherings at varying locations on a regular basis. They are doing valuable and important work for our region!
- Bread + Puppet Theater/Museum: The shortest way to describe Bread + Puppet is to say, "giant, radical puppet theater," but it's so much more than that. You can get a taste of what they're about by shopping their cheap art boutique in town (*cough* it's us *cough*) but going to see them in person is the only way to truly experience their vastness. The Museum is open to the public year round and they host circuses in July and August every Sunday at 3 PM. If you're here midweek, don't miss The Bread + Puppet Press volunteer painting sessions.
- The Museum of Everyday Life: This shrine to the ordinary and obscure is a very special place. The Museum is open to the public daily and by donation. If you're the only person checking it out, it's on you to turn the lights on and get yourself inside. With collections of pens, handwritten lists, scissors, and the like, it will help you find more magic in the mundane.
- Lake Willoughby: This glacial lake is truly a gift to this region. North Beach is a great stop for families and the more modest folks while South Beach is a clothing optional beach that must be protected at all costs. It can get very busy in the summer, especially on weekends, so please be thoughtful and pack out everything you pack in.
- Mt. Pisgah (South Trail): This is a short, yet challenging trail with some intense elevation gains but two spectacular views. A lower view of South Beach about a mile in for those looking for more of a nature walk and views of Burke Mountain and Lake Willoughby from the top of the fjords if you want to challenge yourself.
- Mt. Hor (Herbert Hawkes Trail): For similar views and a much less challenging hike, take Mt. Hor! It is the Western fjord that nests Lake Willoughby.
- The Village Inn: This Inn is in the heart of Burke and walking distance to Kingdom Trails (and pretty much everything else East Burke has to offer). The new owners are delightful, the prices are reasonable, and the new taproom beneath it is a great spot to hang.
- Cotton Road AirBnb: I'll be honest-- AirBnbs are a problem in this area and a heavy blow for the small families and young adults trying to buy homes and build a life in our region. It's rare I will endorse one but this charming property, owned by a local family (since before the AirBnb Post COVID boom), with a reasonable pricepoint, and doesn't feel like your average sterile rental property? This one gets a pass. Megan is a Super Host so her place is often booked. Get your reservation in advance if you can!
- Highland Lodge: This place is a great destination for a solo adventure, a romantic getaway, or a family vacation. They have a wide variety of options for guests and host a number of events on their property from trivia to live music to Margarita Mondays in the summer months.