1. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
2. Pizza On Main
3. Blue Stone
Nominees: The Bench, Downtown Pizza, Fire Tower Pizza, Jeffersonville Pizza Dept., Jimmz Pizza, Morrisville House of Pizza, Pizza Joint.
If it’s pizza you want, it’s Piecasso. These Stowe pie tossers have won this coveted award five years running. Airy crust, inspired toppings, a fun vibe, great bar and beer taps, and that great lunch special — two big slices and a fountain drink for just a couple of bucks.
1. Doc Ponds
2. Lost Nation Brewing Co.
3. Burger Barn
Nominees: 10 Railroad, 158 Main, The Bench, Black Diamond BBQ, Blue Donkey, Edson Hill, Idletyme Brewing Co.
We had to do it. We had to Google “Doc Ponds burger” again, just to see. Just to see if the top result is still “The burger that changed my life,” a TripAdvisor review from AndreaTheGreat of Queensbury, N.Y. It’s a simple recipe. An egg-washed brioche-style bun — never too much bread — Vermont beef, yummy cheddar and secret sauce. A favorite for readers, and for Andrea too.
Best french fries
1. Prohibition Pig
2. Doc Ponds
3. The Reservoir
Nominees: The Bench, Blue Donkey, Charlie B’s, Depot Street Malt Shop (out of business), Mountain View Snack Bar, Spruce Camp Base Lodge, Stowe Sandwich Co.
1. Black Diamond BBQ
2. Sunset Grille & Tap Room
3. Doc Ponds
Nominees: The Bench, Idletyme, The Matterhorn, Piecasso, Pizza on Main, Rimrocks Mountain Tavern, Sushi Yoshi.
Best vegetarian/vegan food
1. Green Goddess Cafe
3. Lost Nation Brewing Co.
Nominees: The Bench, Cork Wine Bar & Market, Idletyme Brewing Co., Plate Restaurant, Stowe Sandwich Co., Thai Smile.
Unlike that one snarky survey taker (“eat meat, get a life”), vegans and vegetarians — or just those of us who watch how much meat, dairy and carbs we consume — can still keep those rusty Veg-O-Matics safely stowed in the basement. Stowe/Waterbury/Morrisville have great options for the carnivorously disinclined. The neat part? The top three vote getters come from each of the three distinct areas of the 4393 awards. Neat-o.
Best new restaurant (2018 or 2019)
1. Stowe Sandwich Co.
2. Ranch Camp
3. Fork & Gavel
Nominees: Over The Wall, The Scale House, Town & Country.
Stowe Sandwich Co. in the Gale Farm Center technically opened around the turn of the new year in 2016, but then, it was called The Kitchen, run by the Handwerger family. The name changed a year later, and in 2018 the business was bought by a new family. Today, Don and Rosalind Moffett run the cozy, 16-seat spot for midday meals, to enjoy in-house with a craft beer or soda, or to go — plus catering service for your business or personal parties. With sandwiches from BLTs to lobster rolls, hearty vegetarian and vegan dishes, great soups, salads you can make a meal of and daily specials, there isn’t a wrong choice to be made. And, you’ll get incredible service — Jackson Moffett and Nick Wilder got second-place honors for best server. According to one reviewer, “I feel like a VIP here!”
1. Eric Warnstedt, Hen of the Wood/Doc Ponds/Prohibition Pig
2. Michael Kloeti, Michael’s on the Hill
3. Jamie Nelson, Blackback Pub
Nominees: Aaron Martin, Plate; Charles Spock, Cork Wine Bar & Market; Jason Bissell, Edson Hill; John Foley, 158 Main; Josh Bard, Doc Ponds; Rick Laster, Hob Knob Inn; Shannon Comtess, Idletyme Brewing Co.; Susanna Keefer, Susanna’s Catering.
Eric and Michael. Michael and Eric. This dynamic duo duke it out almost every year in the best chef category. Pow! Zowie! Kapow! Warnstedt, who runs Hen of the Wood locations in Waterbury and Burlington, Doc Ponds in Stowe, and Pro Pig in Waterbury, has topped this list three times, often in a neck-and-neck race with Kloeti, the inspired master behind the magic at Michael’s. Look for Warnstedt this summer in Stowe as chef of the Outstanding in the Field culinary caravan dining adventure — his ninth year at the helm.
Best restaurant, fine dining
1. Hen of the Wood
3. Michael’s on the Hill
Nominees: Bistro at Ten Acres, Edson Hill, Plate, Trattoria La Festa.
A Yahtzee for HOTW in Waterbury, with all of the usual suspects in close pursuit. Harrison’s and Michael’s round out the top three in this battle of the sauté pans, per usual. Bon appetit! (Silliest write-in: The Cheesecake Factory. Now that’s fine dining.)
Best restaurant, casual — Stowe
1. Doc Ponds
2. The Bench
Nominees: Cork Wine Bar, Idletyme Brewing Co., McCarthy’s, Stowe Sandwich Co., Sushi Yoshi, Tres Amigos, The Whip.
Casual is king for eating out these days, with Doc Ponds and The Bench once again vying for top honors. Both vibe big-time on the casual. Warm décor, tall tables, comfy bars, happy staffers — hipster meets old-time Stowe, of the Shed variety.
For the longest time dining out in Stowe meant dresses, suits and ties and knowing what that spoon at the noontime position was for. Stowe used to boast two fancy French food houses — Isle de France and, later, Mes Amis, not to mention all of the other classically trained white hats staffing kitchen after kitchen ’round these parts. And, the other side of the Mountain (or this side, depending upon your geography) featured one other French eatery — Le Cheval d’Or — so well regarded that discerning Stowe folks couldn’t wait for the Notch to open every spring.
Now it’s all jeans and flannels, Birks and shorts, and craft brews. But who’s complaining?
Best restaurant, casual — Waterbury
1. Prohibition Pig
2. The Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room
3. Blackback Pub
Nominees: Blue Stone, Maxi’s Restaurant, Zachary’s Pizza House, Zenbarn.
Best restaurant, casual — Lamoille County
1. Lost Nation Brewing Co.
2. Black Diamond BBQ
3. 10 Railroad
Nominees: 158 Main, The Charlmont, Downtown Pizza, El Toro, Hoagie’s Pizza & Pasta, Martell’s at the Red Fox, Pizza on Main.
We all blinked and Morrisville became (or is fast becoming) the third spoke in the Route 100 food hub, joining Waterbury and Stowe. Lost Nation, in addition to its small-batch draughts — a spicy gose, a saison, pilsner, India Pale and black ales — offers tasty food and a low-key vibe. Casual and relaxed; smell the grilling meats, enjoy the indoor/outdoor setting, hang and meet some locals at the bar.
Best family-friendly dining
1. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
2. McCarthy’s Restaurant
3. The Bench
Nominees: 158 Main, Depot Street Malt Shop (out of business), Hoagie’s Pizza & Pasta, Pizza On Main, Sunset Grille & Tap Room, Sushi Yoshi, Town & Country.
Piecasso: Always the hands-down favorite in this category, and it’s a place for all kinds of families — kids with parents, leaf peepers, snowboard bums, YRPPIES (young rural professionals), both Woodcharles and Woodchucks (thanks, Peter Miller), tourists, couples and singles, gay and straight. Guess what we’re saying is it’s just downright friendly. For everybody, save one: survey taker No. 2,456, a self-described “childless bastard.”
Best outdoor dining
1. Idletyme Brewing Co.
2. Lost Nation Brewing Co.
3. The Whip
Nominees: Bistro at Ten Acres, Edson Hill, Prohibition Pig Brewery, Sunset Grille & Tap Room, Topnotch Resort.
Ah, it’s the Saturday before July hits and here I sit, on a perfect summer afternoon, not on the lovely patio at Idletyme being served a refreshingly light and tasty hefeweizen, my bike leaning against a tree, just off Stowe’s Recreation Path, enjoying chit-chat with friends and family — whack! Wake up, this is due Monday. In other words, get yourself to Idletyme before this very short thing we call summer comes to an abrupt end.
Best draft beer selection
1. Blackback Pub
2. Doc Ponds
3. The Bench
Nominees: 10 Railroad Street, Brewster River Pub & Brewery, Idletyme Brewing Co., Lost Nation Brewing, The Matterhorn, Piecasso, Prohibition Pig, The Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room, Stowe Public House, Tap 25, von Trapp Bierhall.
Boneyard Notorious. Foam Brewers Pavement. Frost Beer Works Double Ponyboy. Hill Farmstead Citra IPA. Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. River Roost Fear of Flying. Ten Bends Cream Puff War. North Coast Old Rasputin Nitro. Heavy Imperial Coffee Stout. Rothaus Pils. Schilling Hierarchy. Wunderkammer Bier Vol. 18: Ghost Pipes. Not all of these beers will appear when you do, but there will be some kick-ass others in their place. Blackback serves great food, too.
1. Andrew Kneale, Harrison’s
2. Sam Sheldon, Doc Ponds
3. Emily Hassard, Zenbarn, formerly
Nominees: Brian Krux, Black Diamond BBQ; Dennis Tallagnon, Backyard Tavern; Gretchen Jarvis, 10 Railroad (formerly); Ian Bud, Plate (formerly); Jeremy Moselle, The Matterhorn; JT Vize, Piecasso (formerly); Mark Martell, Martell’s at the Red Fox; Otis Helfrich, Sunset Grille, Over The Wall; Tom Moog, Moog’s Place.
Everything Andrew Kneale learned he learned in Stowe. Grew up here. Watched his parents run a variety of very successful restaurants, and now runs Harrison’s with his mum, Kathy, who also grew up in Stowe. Andrew also learned to fish in Stowe. Relax in the tall grass. To sit and think as Prince Valiant. To sell Kool-Aid in the village with his brother. To shovel snow. Arrr, matey … to impersonate a pirate. And, most important, kill it in a white tux. We don’t care if you don’t get all this. (Best comment: “Stop voting for JT Vize at Piecasso; he hasn’t worked there for over a year.” JT, wyd?)
1. The Matterhorn
2. Doc Ponds
3. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge
Nominees: The Bench, Cork Wine Bar & Market, The Den — Mansfield Base Lodge, Hob Knob, Idletyme Brewing Co., Town & Country, Tres Amigos.
Stowe’s world-famous party spot is No. 1. (Unlikeliest answer: Craftsbury General Store. We’ve been there, not seeing it.)
1. Seth Burbank and Anna Dunn, Harrison’s
2. Jackson Moffett and Nick Wilder, Stowe Sandwich Co.
3. Robin Morgan and Kayla Bates, Edson Hill
Nominees: Kate Bowen, Lost Nation; Georgia Ayers, Prohibition Pig; Kayla at 158 Main.
With podium finishes for best fine dining restaurant, best bartender and best date/night out, it’s only logical that the other piece of that perfect culinary equation is the service at Harrison’s Restaurant. This cozy spot in the heart of Stowe village welcomes you to dine with friends, family or ooh-la-loved ones, and you’ll be in excellent hands with our readers’ favorite servers, Seth Burbank and Anna Dunn. We’ve worked in the industry, and we recommend diners show their appreciation with generous tips.
1. McCarthy’s Restaurant
2. Butler’s Pantry
3. Maxi’s Restaurant
Nominees: 158 Main, Cafe on Main, Deb’s Place, Dutch Pancake Café, Stowe Bee Bakery, Stowe Street Café, Thompson’s Flour Shop.
“Skip breakfast, go skiing or sleep.” Clearly this survey taker has never been to McCarthy’s, in Stowe since 1974, a place where everyone knows your name, even if they don’t know your name. Because even if they don’t, you’ll feel like they do. It’s that kinda place. So wake up and go start your day right. Or, work up an appetite with a few runs first, then hit McCarthy’s.
Best breakfast sandwich
1. The Bagel
2. Thompson’s Flour Shop
3. Harvest Market
Nominees: Butler’s Pantry, Cafe on Main, Deb’s Place, Hender’s Bake Shop, McCarthy’s Restaurant, Stowe Bee Bakery, Stowe Quick-Mart.
“Give me a vegetable cream cheese on the everything bagel. No, wait, let me try something else … the Ski Racer breakfast sandwich with bacon and cream cheese. No, gimme the Late Riser. Yes, sausage, egg and cheese. No, wait. Make it a New Yorker, with lox, cream cheese, tomato, red onion and capers. Sorry, yes, that’s what I want.” There’s always tomorrow.
Best local bread
1. Red Hen Bakery
2. Elmore Mountain Bread
3. Mansfield Breadworks (Harvest Market)
Nominees: Bob’s Breadworks, LaStrada Bakery, Slowfire Bakery, Thompson’s Flour Shop.
If bread can actually make your mouth water, it’s Red Hen. From 3 Millers — a naturally leavened beauty made from flour of three different mills — to the miche, the bakery’s version of a French loaf, Red Hen does bread right. Our favorite? The polenta bread, Geechie Boy Mills polenta — heirloom corn milled on antique gristmills — flour and honey. Perfection.
Best sweet treats
1. Laughing Moon Chocolates
2. Stowe Bee Bakery
3. Ben & Jerry’s
Nominees: Deb’s Place, Harvest Market, Hender’s Bake Shop, North Country Cakes, Stowe Street Café, The Farm Store, Thompson’s Flour Shop.
Decadent chocolate bars. Hand-twisted candy canes. Easter bunnies. Homemade caramels. Basil and black pepper truffles. Chamomile and lavender chévre truffles. Buttercreams filled with every delectable flavor imaginable … simply some of the best chocolate you’ll ever taste.
Best place to grab a quick bite/takeout
1. The Butchery
2. Edelweiss Mountain Deli
3. Nepali Kitchen
Nominees: Cafe on Main, Harvest Market, Hogback Snacks, Mountain View Snack Bar, Stowe Sandwich Co., Stowe Street Café, The Cupboard Deli.
The Butchery, a full-service butcher shop, fish monger and fromagerie, sashayed up Route 100 from the Mad River Valley last year to open a second (now only) location, take first place, and now repeat in the category — against some tough competition.
Best local caterer
1. Black Diamond BBQ
2. Susanna’s Catering
3. Stowe Sandwich Co.
Nominees: Diane McCarthy, Fiddleheads Cuisine, Harvest Market, Le Petit Gourmet, Simply Done, Sunset Grille, Thyme 2 Dine.
Best local spirits maker
1. Green Mountain Distillers
2. Smugglers’ Notch Distillery
3. Caledonia Spirits
Runner-up: Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits
Shot for shot, this was a close one. Both of our hyperlocal spirits makers mashed it out, but Green Mountain pushed Smugglers’ on the rocks. Green Mountain, just over the Stowe line in Morrisville, offers small-batch organic gin, organic vodka in a variety of flavors, and a simply luscious maple liqueur. And that’s straight up. (Survey response with best sense of humor: “Cemetery.”)
Best local brewery
1. The Alchemist
2. Lost Nation Brewing
3. von Trapp Brewing
Nominees: Big Tree Brewing, Brewster River Brewery, Idletyme Brewing Co., Prohibition Pig Brewery, Rock Art Brewery, Ten Bends Beer.
Heady Topper. Focal Banger. Community commitment. Alchemist Foundation. Humor and humility. Jen and John Kimmich for the win!
Best local cider
1. Stowe Cider
2. Cold Hollow Cider Mill
3. Boyden Valley Winery
“Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.” Stowe rules this Cider House.
Best wine shop/selection
1. Cork Wine Bar & Market
2. Fine Wine Cellars
3. Stowe Wine & Cheese (out of business)
Runner-up: Stowe Public House
Nominees: Boyden Valley Winery, Stowe Beverage, Tomlinson’s Store.
Cork has a mantra. Well, a few in fact: Wine should be natural. Organic, biodynamic, no-additive, unfiltered and wild fermented. Wines are grown, not made. Wine should come from unique places and people, not corporations. Believe in natural wine. That’s Cork, uncorked.
Best beer shop/selection
1. Stowe Public House
2. Craft Beer Cellar Waterbury
3. Stowe Beverage
Nominees: Black Cap Coffee & Beer, Commodities Natural Market, Crossroads Beverage & Deli, Edelweiss Mountain Deli, Stowe Wine & Cheese (out of business), Sunflower Natural Foods, Tomlinson’s Store.
Best place to meet for coffee
1. PK Coffee
2. Black Cap Coffee & Beer
3. Stowe Street Cafe
Nominees: Cafe on Main, Deb’s Place, Green Goddess, Maxi’s Restaurant, Railroad Café, Stowe Bee Bakery.
The top two brewed a good race — another nail-biter — with PK edging Black Cap. PK, which uses as a base Counter Culture Coffee of Durham, N.C., keeps it simple — espresso, cappuccino, latte, Americano … the Mason. We know, we had to go try it too.
Best coffee roaster
1. Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea
2. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
3. Brave Coffee & Tea
Nominees: Brown & Jenkins, Old Dodge Farm Roasters.
Moka Java, Mayan, Espresso Blend, Ethiopian Washed Guji, Guatemalan, Nomad Blend, a couple of dozen others. That’s just the coffees. Don’t get us all steeped on the teas — black teas, oolong, herbal and greens. Oh, and after you’ve enjoyed your double shot of espresso, tour the roastery. Or, for an over-the-top caffeine buzz, take a coffee course.
Did we miss any food or drink options?
Well, it would seem so. Here is a synopsis from 65 respondents, some of whom chastised us, very nicely of course, for missing categories and businesses we didn’t miss! But heck, here goes. Best lunch spot was the most requested new category, by far. Others included best flannel (like a wet flannel contest?); best seafood — “Stowe Seafood is the best!”; best mixologist (isn’t that a bartender?); and best tacos. Others pointed out that this place has baked goods, that place has wings, and another place is a coffee shop too. Remember, people, for next year, you gotta nominate your faves so they make the list.