Doc Ponds burger

Doc Ponds burger

1) Best pizza

1. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge

2. Pizza on Main

3. Blue Stone

Nominees: Angelina’s Pizza, Downtown Pizza, Firetower Pizza, Jeffersonville Pizza Dept., Jimmz Pizza, Junior’s at Stowe, Pizza Joint, The Bench, The Matterhorn, Zachary’s Pizza.

Do you know why pizza makers toss their dough into the air? Ask Eduardo Rovetto and crew at the perennially popular Piecasso. And no, it’s not because it’s really cool. … well, it is really cool. But tossing it helps keep the dough moist, keeps it a uniform size and thickness and avoids the tearing that rolling or flattening can lead to. With specialty pies like Tree Hugger, Pablo Pesto and The Vienna, always with just the right amount of sauce, cheese and toppings — and that perfect hand-tossed dough — Piecasso’s secrets of success.

2) Best burger

1. Doc Ponds

2. Burger Barn

3. Lost Nation

Nominees: 10 Railroad Street, The Bench, Black Diamond BBQ, Blue Donkey, Flannel at Topnotch, Harrison’s, Idletyme Brewing Co., Plate, Prohibition Pig, The Reservoir, The Roost at Topnotch, Stowe Bowl, Sunset Grille & Tap Room, von Trapp Bierhall, The Whip, Zenbarn.

When Doc Ponds burst onto the scene a few years ago, its burger quickly topped many a favorite list, in a crowded field of great burgers. The Burger Barn, right? Anyway, DP’s award-winning recipe is simple: An egg-washed brioche style bun – never too much bread – great-tasting beef, yummy cheddar and secret sauce. Simplicity rules. And there is always that visitor who summed it up best with her post titled, “The Burger That Changed My Life.”

There’s a reason our readers named the good doctor’s place the best casual restaurant in Sto…

3) Best french fries

1. Prohibition Pig

2. Doc Ponds

3. The Bench

Nominees: 10 Railroad Street, Bistro at Ten Acres, Blue Donkey, Burger Barn, Depot Street Malt Shoppe, Mountain View Snack Bar, Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge, Stowe Bowl, Stowe Mountain Lodge, The Reservoir.

Take some duck fat. Hand cut potatoes. Mix, salt, serve. That’s the ticket to great fries, at least at Pro Pig — and The Bench. Quack.

4) Best wings

1. Black Diamond BBQ

2. The Reservoir

3. Sunset Grille & Tap Room

Nominees: The Bench, Doc Ponds, Idletyme, The Matterhorn, Picnic Social, Piecasso, Prohibition Pig, Rimrocks, Sushi Yoshi, Tap 25, Village Tavern.

For a bunch of northern Vermont towns, far afield from Texas, the South, or even Memphis or Kansas City — all noted barbecue towns and regions — we got pretty darn lucky. There’s Haabz at the Sunset, the restaurant moguls at The Reservoir in

Waterbury (they own two restaurants in Stowe, too) and not-so-new-kid in the smokehouse, Black Diamond BBQ, which finally moved into a brick-and-mortar location in Morristown Corners a few years back. The wings are spice-rubbed, smoked for three hours, cooled, and brought back to life in the fryer. “They come out of the fryer plain, but with so much flavor. There’s something about that smoke and char that comes off a wing that is really, really good,” manager Brian Krux said. Bazinga.

5) Best vegetarian/vegan food

1. Green Goddess Cafe

2. Zenbarn

3. Pete’s Greens Waterbury Farm Market

Nominees: The Bench, Commodities Natural Market, Idletyme Brewing Co., Plate Restaurant, Saensook Thai Kitchen, Sunflower Natural Foods, Sushi Yoshi.

Any place called Green Goddess has got to be a shoo-in to win best vegetarian joint, right? But these guys don’t rest on their hummuses. Fresh, simple ingredients, prepared beautifully. The build-your-own salads served in big wooden bowls … well geez, if you haven’t tried one, what are you waiting for?

6) Best new restaurant (opened in 2017 or 2018)

1. Tres Amigos

2. Stowe Bee Bakery

3. Black Cap Coffee & Beer (Morrisville)

Nominees: Allium, Papa’s Place.

Mexican is back in Stowe. The boys behind The Reservoir in Waterbury and The Bench in Stowe, Mark Frier and Chad Fry — awesome names for restaurant owners, right? — opened Tres Amigo in 2017 at the old Rusty Nail and haven’t looked back. Buen provecho.

7) Best chef

1. Michael Kloeti, Michael’s on the Hill

2. Eric Warnstedt, Hen of the Wood

3. Aaron Martin, Black Diamond BBQ

Nominees: Andy Figliola, 10 Railroad; Jack Pickett, Bierhall at von Trapp Brewing; Jamie Nelson, Blackback Pub; Jason Pacioni, Black Diamond BBQ; Jonathan Nelson, Piecasso; Josh Bard, Doc Ponds; Matthew LeBlanc, Harrison’s; Mike Giffune, Zenbarn; Rich Haab, Sunset Grille; Sean Patrick Morrison, Plate; Steve Zeno, The Whip Bar & Grill.

The Stowe/Morrisville/Waterbury area can claim its fair share of great chefs (or cooks, as some prefer to be called) but the much-honored Michael Kloeti is always near the top. In the same old farmhouse first made famous by another great chef, Tony DiRuocco of Villa Tragara, Kloeti’s “locally sourced, Continental cuisine” never fails to disappoint. He’s cooked at Lespinasse at the St. Regis in New York City and on the island of Lana’i before he and Laura opened Michael’s 15 years ago. His expertly prepared menus — crispy Rhode Island calamari with frisee, Reggiano and capers … c’mon — feature all the words that shoot serious diners over the moon: bouillabaisse, crostini, gnocchi, bacon jam!

8) Best restaurant, fine dining

1. Hen of the Wood

2. Harrison’s

3. Michael’s on the Hill

Nominees: Michael’s on the Hill, Cliff House at Stowe Mountain Resort, Flannel at Topnotch Resort, Hearth & Candle, Plate Restaurant, The Bistro at Ten Acres, The Dining Room at Edson Hill, Trapp Family Lodge, Trattoria La Festa.

Hen of the Wood is, simply, one of the best restaurants in the United States. The world? The universe? OK, we’ll cut back on the hyperbole — a pinch. Stowe is blessed with many fine eateries, but HOTW is a cut above. We could wax on, but Chef Eric Warnstedt and his partner William McNeil kind of sum it up, describing their own vision for their Waterbury fine-dining destination: “a warm, inviting atmosphere, a historic and visually appealing setting, seamless service and, most importantly, outstanding wine and beautiful food.” On the food, just one note. Well, two. The menu changes daily, and while the descriptions might sound fanciful — braised lamb with feta, panisse frites, baby bok choy and hazelnuts, yes ma’am — the ingredients are always respected, often local, and always expertly paired in inspired combinations. These guys know their stuff.

9) Best restaurant, casual — Stowe

1. Doc Ponds

2. The Bench

3. Piecasso

Nominees: Bierhall at von Trapp Brewing, Blue Donkey, Café on Main, Charlie B’s, Depot Street Malt Shop, Idletyme Brewing Co., Junior’s at Stowe, Saensook Thai Kitchen, Stowe Sandwich Co., Sunset Grille & Tap Room, Sushi Yoshi, The Matterhorn, The Roost at Topnotch, The Whip Bar & Grill, Tres Amigos.

Doc Ponds, it’s one of those places where the locals go. It’s a great hang.

10) Best restaurant, casual — Waterbury

1. Prohibition Pig

2. The Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room

3. Blackback Pub

Nominees: Allium, Blue Stone, Maxi’s Restaurant, Ocha Thai Smile, Park Row Café, Zenbarn.

Lost Nation proves the adage that you don’t have to be fancy to be good, or in Lost Nation’s case, great. You can’t get more casual, the food is inspired, the beer is topnotch, and in a craft-brew market overflowing with topnotch beers. And it’s always at the top of many a local’s favorites list.

11) Best restaurant, casual — Lamoille County

1. Lost Nation Brewing Co.

2. Black Diamond BBQ

3. Pizza on Main

Nominees: 10 Railroad, 158 Main, Downtown Pizza, El Toro, Hoagie’s Pizza & Pasta, Martell’s at the Red Fox, The Charlmont, The Village Tavern.

12) Best family-friendly dining

1. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge

2. McCarthy’s Restaurant

3. The Bench

Nominees: 158 Main, Depot Street Malt Shop, Harrison’s, Hoagie’s Pizza & Pasta, Mountain View Snack Bar, Stowe Bowl, Sunset Grille & Tap Room, Sushi Yoshi, Zenbarn.

Always the hands-down favorite in this category, and it’s a place for all kinds of families — families with kids, retired leaf peepers, snowboard bums, young rural professionals, both Woodcharles and Woodchucks (thanks, Peter Miller), tourists, couples and singles. Guess what we’re saying is it’s just downright friendly. For everybody.

13) Best outdoor dining

1. Idletyme Brewing Co.

2. Lost Nation Brewing

3. The Whip Bar & Grill

Nominees: Blue Donkey, Harrison’s, Hen of the Wood, Prohibition Pig Brewery, Sunset Grille & Tap Room, The Bench, The Bistro at Ten Acres, The Village Tavern, Topnotch Resort.

Idletyme, a small-batch brewery, also features a great bar: Lots of wood, big tables and booths, no crowding, great old Stowe photographs, low-slung ceilings, and a big copper vessel for brewing. It also features a great dining room with separate bar, tons of ambiance and awesome booths that look like Holsteins. But, in summer, on a halcyon Vermont day … it’s all about the patio. Simply the best.

14) Best draft beer selection

1. Blackback Pub

2. Doc Ponds

3. The Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room

Nominees: 10 Railroad Street, Brewster River Pub & Brewery, Idletyme Brewing Co., Lost Nation Brewing, Piecasso, Prohibition Pig, Stowe Public House, Tap 25, The Bench, The Matterhorn, von Trapp Bierhall.

Holy bier stein, Batman. How do people vote in this category? Beer selections nowadays are simply top drawer. From great local brews to beers imported from around the Northeast, America and the world, the Waterbury-Stowe-Morrisville area features the best of the best. But it is a small, cozy bar, tucked into a building on Waterbury’s Main Street, that tapped out the win. Blackback has a great list. An ever-changing list. And it explains their motto: “We are all about the beer. It is the reason we are here.”

15) Best bartender

1. Andrew Kneale, Harrison’s

2. Sam Sheldon, Doc Ponds

3. Emily Hassard, Zenbarn

Nominees: Brian Krux, Black Diamond BBQ; Jeremy Moselle, The Matterhorn; Tom Moog, Moog’s Place; Gretchen Jarvis, 10 Railroad; Otis Helfrich, Sunset Grille; Ian Bud, Plate; JT Vize, Piecasso; Mark Martell, Martell’s at the Red Fox; Dennis Tallagnon, Backyard Tavern.

Local. Boy. Makes. Good. OK, it’s a been a while since Andrew’s been a boy, but he is a damn fine bartender and a damn fine man. Andrew, with his mother, Kathy, a Stowe restaurant business staple for decades (Partridge Inn, Depot Street Malt Shop and now Harrison’s), own and operate what has become a Stowe institution. Andrew, behind the bar, is one of its top draws.

16) Best après ski

1. The Matterhorn

2. Doc Ponds

3. Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge

Nominees: Brewster River Pub, Cork Wine Bar & Market, Hob Knob, Idletyme Brewing Co., Martell’s at the Red Fox, Piecasso, Stowe Bowl, Sushi Yoshi, The Bench, The Den at Mansfield Base Lodge, The Roost at Topnotch.

The Horn knocked it clear over Mansfield this year — all 4,393 feet of it. This Stowe institution keeps on keeping it real. A real ski-town bar in a real ski town.

17) Best server

1. Anne Dunn, Harrison’s

2. Noelle Hopkins, Topnotch

See “best bartender” above. Harrison’s has all of the boxes checked.

18) Best breakfast/brunch

1. McCarthy’s Restaurant

2. Butler’s Pantry

3. Maxi’s Restaurant

Nominees: 158 Main, Cafe on Main, Deb’s Place, Dutch Pancake Café, Green Goddess Café, Hender’s Bake Shop, K.C.’s Bagel Café, Park Row Café, Stagecoach Inn, Stowe Bee Bakery, Stowe Street Café, The Bagel, The Broken Yoke, The Family Table, The Gables Inn.

Flapjacks still flipping, eggs still scrambling, bacon still frying … Diane McCarthy and crew still greet visitors and locals, every day, like they’ve been doing for the last 40 years. Same smiles, same great breakfasts, same hot cup of joe, and that special Stowe touch.

19) Best breakfast sandwich

1. The Bagel

2. Deb’s Place

3. McCarthy’s Restaurant

Nominees: Butler’s Pantry, Cafe on Main, Green Goddess Café, Hender’s Bake Shop, K.C.’s Bagel Café, Stowe Bee Bakery, Stowe Street Café, The Cupboard Deli.

A dozen or more choices of bagels, breakfast sandwiches, cream cheese — Mexican, strawberry, veggie, bacon horseradish. But you get the same one every time! Take off your bagel blinders and live a little, and see why The Bagel loxxed down this category.

20) Best local bread

1. Elmore Mountain Bread

2. Red Hen Bakery

3. TIE: Mansfield Breadworks (Harvest Market), and Bob’s Breadworks

Nominees: LaStrada Bakery, Slowfire Bakery, Thompson’s Flour Shop.

21) Best sweet treats

1. Laughing Moon Chocolates

2. Stowe Bee Bakery

3. Ben & Jerry’s

Nominees: Cafe on Main, Cake & Crumb Bakery, Deb’s Place, Depot Street Malt Shop, Harvest Market, Hender’s Bake Shop, Mountain View Snack Bar, Stowe Ice Cream, Stowe Street Café, Sweet Crunch Bake Shop, The Cakery/Baby Bundts of Vermont, The Farm Store, Thompson’s Flour Shop, Vermont Sweet Tooth.

Blue cheese truffles. Chamomille and lavender chevre truffles. Buttercreams. Wait, say that again. Buttercreams filled with vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, lemon, orange, maple … oh my. Oh, and give me three dozen of those sea-salted caramels.

22) Best place to grab a quick bite/takeout

1. The Butchery

2. Edelweiss Mountain Deli

3. Stowe Street Cafe

Nominees: Apple Core Luncheonette, Black Diamond BBQ, Café on Main, Green Goddess Café, Harvest Market, Hender’s Bake Shop & Café, KC’s Bagel Café, Mountain View Snack Bar, Nepali Kitchen, Piecasso, Pizza Joint, Stowe Bee Bakery, Stowe Sandwich Co., The Bagel, Thompson’s Flour Shop.

The Butchery in Stowe, sister op to the original in the Mad River Valley, blew into town last winter and took hold, coming out on top in a tightly contested race.

23) Best local caterer

1. Black Diamond BBQ

2. Susanna’s Catering

3. Diane McCarthy

Nominees: Fiddleheads Cuisine, Harvest Market, Le Petit Gourmet, Simply Done, Stowe Sandwich Co., Sunset Grille, Thyme 2 Dine.

“The pig is still smoking when we arrive.” Now that’s a party. Cater us, boys.

24) Best local spirits maker

1. Green Mountain Distillers

2. Smuggler’s Notch Distillery

3. Caledonia Spirits

Nominee: Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits.

Congrats Green Mountain. We’ll get you next year! Seriously, the area is blessed with some serious spirits’ makers. Top dog Green Mountain’s top guns Howie and Tim make some seriously smooth organic gin and vodka — some flavored — and whiskey from their Morrisville distillery. Make mine a double.

25) 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.

Focal Banger, Alena, Crusher. Luscious, Hellbrook. Skadoosh, El Jefe, Broken Spoke. Beelzebub. Wild Child, Harvest, Farmer’s Daughter, Holy Cow. Lightweight, Pappy’s Porter, Ourorboros. Petit Mutant, Sterk Wit, Dubbel Twubble, Winter Warmer. See, it’s not all about the Heady. Topper, that is.

26) 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.

27) Best wine shop/selection

1. Cork Wine Bar & Market

2. Stowe Wine & Cheese

3. Fine Wine Cellars

Nominees: Crossroads Beverage & Deli, Leisure World, Pete’s Greens Waterbury Farm Market, Stowe Beverage, Stowe Public House.

Mr. Shakespeare unCorks the secret of this little gem next door to our office in Stowe: “ … good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.”

28) Best beer shop/selection

1. Craft Beer Cellar Waterbury

2. Stowe Public House

3. Stowe Beverage

Nominees: Black Cap Coffee & Beer, Commodities Natural Market, Crossroads Beverage & Deli, Edelweiss Mountain Deli, Stowe Wine & Cheese, Sunflower Natural Foods, Tomlinson’s Store.

Kegger! Goodness, craft brewsters. Trim your beards and wash that flannel shirt and go wander around the Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury. It’s a destination vacation for you beer aficionados, or even the casual Bud drinker. Step away from your PBRs and check out the choices from Palestine, Finland, Vietnam … and dozens of beer hotspots from around the globe and nearly every state. Prost!

29) Best place to meet for coffee

1. Black Cap Coffee & Beer

2. PK Coffee

3. Stowe Street Cafe

Nominees: Deb’s Place, Green Goddess, Green Mountain Coffee Café, Hender’s Bake Shop, Maxi’s Restaurant, McCarthy’s Restaurant, Stowe Bee Bakery.

The coffee? Simple, if that’s how you like it; perfectly roasted. Like it fancy? Double-shot espresso, macchiato, Americano. You’re covered. The vibe? College coffeehouse meets the ski bum and yoga set. Super Stowe village locale. Make mine black.

30) Best coffee roaster

1. Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea

2. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

3. Brave Coffee & Tea

Nominees: Brown & Jenkins, Old Dodge Farm Roasters.

Mané Alves travels the globe and brings back unique coffees to roast and teas to package. Coolest of all? Go to coffee school at the Coffee Lab International School of Coffee. That’s right. From morning ritual to career path.

32) Best local market

1. Commodities Natural Foods

2. Village Market of Waterbury

3. Stowe Seafood

Nominees: Alpine Mart, Edelweiss Mountain Deli, Harvest Market, Johnson’s Sterling Market, Mac’s Market, Morrisville Food Co-op, Pete’s Greens Waterbury Farm Market, Sunflower Natural Foods, The Butchery, The Farm Store.

Little specialty markets of all sorts abound in these parts, but Commodities in Stowe keeps bagging the win in this category.

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