Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekend Cooking: Great Restaurants in Manchester, Vermont

If you've been reading my blog this week, you know I am just back from a lovely week spent in Vermont with my husband. You can check out my recap of three VT bookstores we visited and my photos of the natural beauty in Vermont. So, here, on Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, I am starting a series on all the great restaurants we visited in Vermont! Vermont is known for its focus on local, independent, and hand-crafted. There are very few chain stores or restaurants in the state outside of larger cities and almost no fast food. Instead, everywhere you go, you find craft beers, super-fresh local ingredients, and even craft coffee! Even restaurants that serve fairly traditional food often list on their menu the local farms where they get their ingredients. The result? Amazing, fresh, creative food everywhere you go! Here are some favorites from Manchester, VT, which I have visited twice for Booktopia, in addition to this recent trip with my husband.

Up for Breakfast
Up for Breakfast
Any visit to Manchester, VT, must start at this unique and creative breakfast place on Main Street. Its name is literal, as you have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the tiny second-floor restaurant. Once there, you are surrounded by bright, cheerful decor in a cozy but not overcrowded place filled with both locals and visitors (you may have a short wait for a table on a busy weekend). Each day, they offer a different flavored coffee, in addition to regular coffee and decaf. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his chocolate hazelnut coffee!

The real star here is the creative menu which is filled with unique and tasty breakfasts. They have delicious (and huge) pancake varieties plus French toast, often made from non-standard breads. And those who think that eggs are boring will be amazed by the variety of unique kinds of omelets, frittatas, hashes, and Eggs Benedict. In addition to the varied selections on the regular menu, each day brings a new batch of daily specials that will blow your mind.  On our recent visit, my husband and I both chose one of the specials, a Cuban version of Eggs Benedict, with flavorful roast pork, sauteed leeks and purple cabbage, eggs and adobo hollandaise sauce, all served on top of cheesy polenta discs. It was full of flavor and sooo good! When I was there for Booktopia in May, I ate at Up for Breakfast three times and enjoyed three very different breakfasts, all full of flavor, including their own version of corned beef hash, with a stone ground mustard hollandaise. Wild turkey hash is one of their specialties, as well.
Cuban Eggs Benedict - creative & delicious!

Spiral Press Cafe
You can walk off that big meal from Up for Breakfast at the Northshire Bookstore, a large and fabulous independent bookstore where Booktopia is held each year in May. Or, if a small breakfast is more your style, pick up a coffee and delicious baked good or breakfast sandwich at Spiral Press Cafe, which is attached to the bookstore. Enjoy your light breakfast at a table in the large WiFi-equipped area before going up or down a few stairs to browse in the bookstore. I like to eat lunch at Spiral Press Cafe in between Booktopia events. Their lunch menu features soups, salads, sandwiches, and paninis, all made with fresh ingredients. My favorite is their Curried Chicken Salad, served on top of the House Salad. Indulge in a delicious homemade dessert before continuing your bookstore explorations!

Poncé Bistro
Poncé Bistro
Another option in Manchester that offers both breakfast and lunch is the little Poncé Bistro on Route 7A (they also serve dinner Thursday through Saturday). We stopped there for lunch after some outlet shopping (had to work off that Up for Breakfast meal!). You can sit inside the cozy shop in an old house, at tables with fireplaces nearby, or on nice days, out on the patio. Breakfast is coffee or tea and the usual assortment of fresh-baked pastries, muffins, scones, etc. or a breakfast sandwich. They also offer quiche, omelets, French toast, and many varieties of crepes. We opted for the patio at lunchtime on a gorgeous summer day, and out mouths watered perusing the choice of soups, sandwiches, and salads (many of them Spanish-influenced). It was a tough choice, but my husband had the delicious North Country Turkey sandwich, with dill havarti cheese, apple slices, and a homemade dressing. I opted for the Asian Chicken Salad, which was tasty but could have used a bit more Asian flavor. The dinner menu features a variety of both creative and traditional dishes - we'll have to go back!
Lunch on the patio at Poncé Bistro

The Depot Cafe, inside Depot62 furniture store!
Depot Cafe
We read about this one in our Roadfood book, which is our constant companion on road trips. It described the Depot Cafe as a restaurant inside a furniture store (Depot62), specializing in Turkish food on Depot Street. Yup, that's exactly what it is! You can see some of the furniture in the background of my photo below, behind my husband. The store offers some really cool, eclectic stuff, and the cafe menu includes a variety of flatbread pizzas made with pita bread in their brick oven, as well as some traditional Turkish dishes, like kebabs (also roasted in the oven). I ordered roasted salmon with mixed salad greens, which was good, though a bit bland. My husband ordered a flatbread pizza with ground lamb that was delicious, along with one of those wonderful local Vermont craft beers. We were disappointed to find they had no baklava on the Monday evening when we visited, but it is normally on the menu (and they offered us tiramisu).

Thai Basil
While at Booktopia this year, my mom and I ate dinner Saturday night at Thai Basil, right on Main Street, across the street from Up for Breakfast. It's open for lunch and dinner and offers a variety of both traditional and creative Thai dishes. We ordered several different dishes to share, and everything was delicious and super-fresh. We tried their Signature Basil Rolls, Larb Salad, and Thai Basil Red Snapper. It was all very flavorful. We were in a rush that night, to get back to Northshire Bookstore for the final Booktopia event, but service was fast and friendly.
Seasons Restaurant
When we went to Booktopia in 2015, my mom and I ate dinner Saturday evening at Seasons Restaurant, on Route 7A. We sat outdoors on their pleasant patio. My mom isn't a fan of eating dinner early (again, we needed to get back to Northshire for the final Booktopia event), so she just ordered the Asian Noodle Salad, but it turned out to be a good-sized meal and full of flavor - she loved it! I ordered the Seven Seed Crusted Salmon which was delicious, with fresh vegetables on the side. We both enjoyed our meal very much. I wanted to go back on this recent visit with my husband, but there just wasn't enough time to fit in all the good food in town!

As you can see, Manchester, VT, is filled with amazing food options. Its many restaurants feature a wide variety of creative dishes from different cultures, made with fresh ingredients. I haven't had a bad meal there in three visits! So, go for the food...and of course, the amazing bookstore!

Come back for more great Vermont restaurants on upcoming Weekend Cooking posts. And if you love food and/or cooking, stop by the Weekend Cooking page for more blog posts to enjoy.


  1. OMG, now I really MUST visit! I've driven through Manchester before, but I don't think we stopped. That will have to change. I'm especially interested in Poncé Bistro

    1. Mmmm...that's a good one and don't forget Up for Breakfast - my fave breakfast place anywhere!

      Manchester is worth a stop just for the amazing bookstore! Hope you get to visit soon.

      Thanks for hosting Weekend Cooking!


  2. We went to Vermont often when we lived in Montreal.
    Thanks for your comments and further to your recommendations for a visit with a 19 and 22 year old. If you like museums we have some great ones like the ROM and AGO.
    Ripley's Aquarium is amazing.
    The boys might be interested in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
    They are of legal drinking age up here and there are so many cool bars around.
    As you mentioned, great neighbourhoods, I think you all would like Queen St. W, you have to check out Graffiti Alley!
    There are things like Canada's Wonderland and iFly for excitement.
    Unfortunately Toronto Islands are closed due to the massive amount of rain we have had. Canoeing is great over there.
    So so many restaurants!
    Hop On Hop Off tour bus will get you to some great places.
    AND at 40% on your dollar it will be very inexpensive.

    1. THANK YOU, Jackie!! I really appreciate all the tips on visiting I am really excited! Sorry to hear the Toronto Islands are closed - we love canoeing & kayaking - but I wonder if they will be open by August? Not sure yet if we are going in July or August.

      Thanks SO much!!!


  3. Wish we were planning a trip to New England. But we just came back from a long one out west, so no time to do it in the near future!

    best... mae at

    1. Where did you go out west, Mae? I am missing our long road trips out there! We used to take a 3-week road trip every summer with our sons out west. We'd stop to see family in OK or SD but often go further, to CO, NM, etc. We can't take such long trips right now, but I am looking forward to those days again!

  4. I've never been to Vermont, but I enjoy reading about good Restaurants that we might get to visit one day. Thanks for the reviews. I love what you say about focusing on finding joy everyday.

    1. Thanks, Judee! Joy is so important in our everyday lives, even in small moments. Glad you enjoyed the restaurant reviews - more to come this weekend - VT has so many great restaurants!