Literary City Guide | BURLINGTON, VERMONT
Tour Guide: JOANNA THOMAS
Relationship to Burlington: I was born and raised in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and now reside in Burlington.
Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Rebecca Walker. I have read all of her books and have seen her speak at the University of Vermont. She has a true sense of self.
Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Gabrielle Hamilton, chef at Prune in NYC and author of “Blood, Bones and Butter,” one of my favorite food memoirs.
Writing soundtrack: Vermont’s own singer-songwriter, Anais Mitchell.
Pen or Pencil: Pen.
Coffee or Tea? Herbal tea with a spoonful of Northwoods Apiaries honey.
Paperback or Hardback? Paperback. Easier to carry around! I am guilty of picking up more books than I can carry on a single library visit.
Crow Bookshop. This cozy gem is a favorite with locals. I consign a lot of my books here for store credit and then spend hours perusing the travel and cooking sections.
Flying Pig. You can tell the owners of this shop really care and really love what they do. In addition to books they’ve got a great kids section for games and toys. Owner Josie Leavitt is also a comedian!
Phoenix Books. With two locations in the Burlington area this hip store has a fantastic staff and a great local Vermont section. Check here for fun paper goods, too.
Fletcher Free Library. This Burlington institution is like my second home. I am here almost every day picking up a book on hold, saying hello to my favorite librarians or savoring the newest staff picks. I couldn’t survive without it!
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Vermont Reads. The Vermont Humanities Council leads a statewide program by picking one book each year and inviting communities to engage via readings, discussions and community events surrounding the selected book. Vermont Public Radio also does a feature.
The Painted Word Poetry Series. Organized by UVM professors, this monthly series takes place at The Fleming Museum. It provides an intimate setting for emerging poets to share their work in Vermont. Past presenters have included Tina Chang, Brooklyn’s 1st Female Poet Laureate.
Phoenix Books. Both Burlington area locations host several author discussions and literary events per month drawing big crowds interested in local topics. This store also produces a locally-broadcast author TV series called The Authors.
Shelburne Farms. Exploring this vast property is like stepping into a magical wonderland. Whether strolling its 10 miles of walking trails with stunning views along Lake Champlain, visiting the farm animals on its 1400 acres or having a cocktail at its historic inn this place surely takes one back in time.
Burlington Book Festival. This three-day festival takes place in downtown Burlington and celebrates Vermont writers, literary journals and other local publications. Past presenters include Vermont’s own Katherine Paterson, a grandmother of modern children’s literature.
Vermont International Film Festival. Screening films from around the world, this ten-day extravaganza happens on the Burlington waterfront every October. Film lovers gather to watch narrative and documentary films as well as engage in panels discussions and Q&A’s with filmmakers.
Muddy Waters. A true cornerstone of Burlington culture, this funky, inviting spot is the place to be. Come here for your morning cup, get a bit of work done, or stop by for a beer and some live jazz after hours. Muddy’s is a must have for visitors and locals alike.
Maglianero. Only a few years on the scene, this hip, trendy cafe also functions as an art gallery in an old grocery warehouse on the Burlington waterfront. The coffee and the treats are top notch and the cafe has a special place in its heart for cyclists.
A PROPER MEAL
El Cortijo. With an emphasis on local, this Mexican joint housed in an old diner is a crowd pleaser. A consistently good beer selection, creative taco specials and the best margaritas in town. They really have the Burlington vibe perfected here, too.
Asiana Noodle Shop. Tucked away in a basement on Church St., this place does sushi as beautifully as it does noodle soups. Their tom kha broth is the best I’ve ever had.
Pizzeria Verita. A great place for dinner with friends or just a drink at the bar veer off course and try the beet salad. The perfect destination for some open-air dining on a summer night in Burlington, too.
Duino Duende. Where else can you sample Parisian oysters, pupusas and bulgogi? The main hangout of the Burlington artist community slip next door to the Radio Bean for a tasty cocktail and some live music.
Mirabelle’s. I worked in downtown Burlington for over three years and this was my go-to lunch spot for delicious soups like Brazilian chicken or Mexican sopa de fideos.
SoYo. Made from all local ingredients this frozen yogurt is the real deal. The owners do a nice job with creative promotion and keeping things fresh with frequent flavor changes. Try the key lime pie, maple or coconut.
Citizen Cider. Cider made from local apples, currents, plums and quince sounds like the ultimate treat to me. Add some house made poutine and that’s about as Vermont as you can get. A real treat indeed.
Kitchen Table Bistro. The creme brulee. In an old brick farm house. That is all.
JOANNA's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: The Colchester Causeway is a 4 mile long gravel path that connects the town of Colchester to the Lake Champlain islands via bike ferry. Great for biking, walking and swimming the causeway is dog-friendly and absolutely stunning rain or shine. It is by far Vermont's best kept secret - not for long! When you're alone on this tiny strip of land, water on both sides of you, you feel like you're at the edge of the world.
2. Favorite place to write: WRUV FM. There is no peace and inspiration quite like an empty radio booth.
3. Favorite museum: The Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont is such a breathtaking building. I go to see the newest cutting edge exhibition or simply to sit in its great halls.
4. Favorite coffee shop: Crappy mini-mart coffee enjoyed on an early morning hike around Shelburne Bay.
5. Favorite thing about Burlington: People are passionate about living here. They are worldly yet value a small community. We live simple lives. We don’t care about material things and it works. It just functions smoothly, efficiently and it’s so darn peaceful and beautiful.