Union Underground, with locations in Manchester and now Bennington, serves Black River's proprietary blend ground beef, char-grilled, served in a brioche bun. Vermont Country Magazine file photo.

By Gordon Dossett, Vermont Country Magazine.

For intrepid journalists, some tasks loom large. Venturing forth to sample the best burgers in the Northshire is not among them, so I am up to the task. Still, compiling a list of best burgers brought risk: it threatened to supersize me into a new wardrobe.

My hearty team and I did not cover all fine restaurants in the area with fine burgers (and fine prices) on the menu — The Dorset Inn, Copper Grouse, and Social House (with a Buffalo Bison burger) — just to cite three). Instead, we focused more on everyday spots with good food — places with reputations for hamburgers. (We were not disappointed.) And we sought out veggie burgers, too.

And for your smart-alecky friends: no, a ham-burger doesn’t contain ham, and no, people aren’t confused. The name comes from the birthplace of burgers, supposedly: Hamburg, Germany. I say “supposedly” since food origins are not always clear. A “Danish,” for example, in Denmark is called Wienerbrød, or literally Viennese bread. Chop suey, which some Americans think of as quintessential Chinese food, is not on menus in Beijing and Shanghai, and may or may not be an American concoction. And don’t get started on pizza.

Anyway, hamburgers — onward!

Bob’s Diner

We tried three burgers at Bob’s. The Bacon Cheddar burger (80% lean, 20% fat; $13.95 — with fries) is crunchy, crispy, fresh burger goodness (white onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, brioche bun).

The Beefalo burger ($15.95), at least 90% lean beef from Mount Brook farm, tastes denser, leaner and slightly gamey (like elk?). The health benefits allow you to forgo the guilt of the bacon, which comes along for the ride.

The veggie burger ($10.95) from Original Garden contains chickpeas, mushrooms, and carrots: it has a good, burger-like texture.

A Bob’s Beefalo Burger in front of a veggie burger. The lean Beefalo allows diners to eat bacon, guilt-free. Gordon Dossett — Vermont Country correspondent. 

The fries fly right in between skinny shoestring and steak fries: crispy and flavorful.

As we were leaving, two owners of another local restaurant were popping in for lunch. People! Your restaurant may be a nice, shiny old-fashioned diner on the outside, but if you’re a go-to spot for other restaurant owners, you’re doing something right on the inside.

Extra: old school milkshakes — a luscious ride back to the 1950s!

Bob’s Diner, 2279 Depot St. Manchester Center, VT 05255


Depot Street Burgers

The Depot Burger ($8.50) is half chuck, half brisket, Midwest beef, ground fresh daily, topped with lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced red onion and sauce, served on a brioche bun. Imagine stands filled with little League parents cheering on their little ballplayers and you have some idea of the Depot Burger cheering section in town, justifiably cheering for these burgers.

Veggie burger ($13) is a Beyond Burger patty with Depot Burger fixins.

Fries ($4.50/7.50): plentiful and excellent, thin, on the crispy side, yummy. (Truffle-Parmesan $8.50/$11.50)

Extra: milkshakes; gluten-free fish fries on Fridays with haddock from Earth and Sea.

The Depot Burger and fries have created a local fan base. Gordon Dossett — Vermont Country correspondent. 

Depot Street Burgers, 468 Depot St. Manchester Center, VT 05255


The Dutchman’s Tavern

The Gouda burger at The Dutchman’s Tavern in Bennington has bacon, and yes, Dutch cheese is necessary for the Dutchman’s. Vermont Country file photo.

The Dutchman’s Tavern is a down-home, local hangout with a friendly staff. The hamburger meat, an 80 lean/20 fat mix, comes from Ginsberg’s, a supplier out of Hudson, New York; the brioche bun from a local family bakery. The Russet potatoes for the fries are fresh-cut in house. In addition to the cheeseburger ($12.65, including fries), Dutchman’s Tavern serves a Beyond Burger ($10.25 with Thousand Island dressing).

It also offers many choices: the Bacon Burger, the Rodeo Burger (BBQ sauce and onions rings), Cajun Burger, Gouda Burger (with bacon and — yes — Dutch cheese is necessary for the Dutchman’s) and the Dutchman’s Burger (bacon, onions and Thousand Island — but wait — how did Swiss cheese get in there? What about Edam?).

Extra: 25 beers on tap, including Fiddlehead IPA, Zero Gravity and a nice dark Rutland Beer Works Swamp Donkey.

Dutchman’s Tavern, 135 Depot St. Bennington, VT 05201



Haig’s is a sports bar — for those over 21. It serves a smashburger ($17), two 4-ounce patties, smothered in American cheese, topped with lettuce, tomato and a brioche bun, proudly accompanied with tater tots. You heard me. Tater tots, rescued from your childhood, fried into deliciousness. Outsmart your diet principal — who needs a stinking hall pass? — and dive into a taste treat.

A smash burger, in case you don’t know, is a burger that has been, well, smashed into the griddle to promote the Maillard reaction. The grilljockey simply shouts “Maillard!” smushes the burger and the result is a more intense, savory burger, crispy on the edges. Some purists argue that to smush a burger makes it drier, but we didn’t find that to be the case at Haig’s. (Try at home.)

No hall pass needed to rush over and eat these Tater Tots and a Smashburger at Haig’s. Gordon Dossett — Vermont Country correspondent. 

Extra: Haig’s has a special program: “We dare to care.” For those too happy to drive, Haig’s has a car dedicated to getting bar patrons home safely. Seriously, just to applaud the program, Haig’s is worth a visit. Some places talk about customer service; Haig’s customer service might be life-saving.

Haig’s, 4566 Main St. Manchester Center, VT 05255



If burgers can be a spot for destination dining, Honeypie is it. And if you’re skiing or en route to Brattleboro, pull in.

Burgers are 2.5 ounces of a home ground short rib and chuck blend from the NorthEast Family Farm Collaborative: ground, weighed and shaped by hand. We ordered the O.G. ($9) — a double burger with melted American cheese, lettuce, tomato and a delicious spicy sauce, featuring Kewpie mayo and sambal ketchup. The menu does not call these smashburgers, but they taste like they are.

People! This was cheesy, beefy goodness on a potato bun. If food could transport, we’d be in orbit right now.

The house veggie patty ($11.25) uses chickpeas ground with onions, garlic and spices, accompanied by pickled onions, cabbage and beets, topped by a tzatziki sauce. Even to carnivores around the table, this was a tasty burger.

Fries ($5.25) closer to shoestring: excellent: crispy and light (not oily).

Extra: milkshakes (16 oz.: $8): creamy goodness (but the vanilla shake was lightly flavored) and, of course, honey pies.

Honeypie, 8811 Vermont Route 30, Jamaica, VT 05343


Madison Brewing Company

The bacon burger at Madison Brewing in Bennington. Vermont Country file photo.
The veggie burger at Madison Brewing in Bennington, served with homemade Russet potato chips.

Ground beef for Madison’s burgers comes from Ginsberg’s: an 8-ounce patty that is char-broiled and served on brioche or pretzel buns.

The Garlic Parm Burger ($17.99, including fries) features Bulliard’s Premium Cayenne Pepper Sauce, parsley, garlic and parmesan cheese, with balsamic glazed onions. Its spicy deliciousness nudged it from being an occasional special to taking a permanent place on the menu.

Big Mike’s Steak Burger ($17.99) features onion rings, A1 Steak sauce, bacon and cheddar cheese. Normally served on a pretzel roll, but ours came on a brioche bun (perfectly acceptable).

For the Veggie Burger ($14.99), the patty is a California burger (containing soybeans and kernels of corn) topped with vegan avocado aioli and a hint of lime juice.

Madison’s serves regular and truffle fries, and sweet potato fries. The homemade Russet potato chips were crispy and delicious.

Extra: Beer, of course. Try the Sucker Pond Blonde. (Nearby Sucker Pond, once the source of Bennington’s water, lends only its name to the beer, which complements the burgers well.)

Madison Brewing Company, 428 Main St. Bennington, VT 05201


The Raven’s Den

The Raven’s Den is a steakhouse. Not surprisingly for the Raven’s Den burger ($22, $24 with cheese), the meat patty is the star, 8 ounces of ground brisket, porterhouse and certified Angus beef. Crisp red onions, lettuce and a juicy tomato play strong supporting roles. Biting through the firm bun — branded to hint at the Wild West — yields to the onions’ and lettuce’s crispiness and the steak’s smoky char-grilled goodness. Ah!

Fries (included) are close to homestyle, thicker than shoestring, a balance of crispy and meaty, dominated not by oiliness, but good potato flavor.

The Raven’s Den brands its burgers to identify runaways. Capture one to savor its smoky, steaky goodness. Gordon Dossett – Vermont Country correspondent.

Extra: People may come for the turf (28-day dry-aged beef), but return for the surf — the swordfish, tuna, and other fresh fish from Earth and Sea.

The Raven’s Den, 844 Depot St. Manchester Center, VT 05255



Sharing Haig’s address, but separate from its sister establishment, Seasons uses the same 80 lean/20 fat mix of beef from wholesaler Black River Meats for its burgers. (Sometimes it orders meat from Rhinehart’s in upstate New York or Henry’s in Bennington). Its 8-ounce cheeseburger ($17 with fries) is char-grilled, to a default rare, to showcase the meat’s juiciness, a decision approved by my tasting companions and me. (Obviously, if you don’t like a rare burger, Seasons will char grill to your choice.)

It offers a burger of the day ($23): on the day of our visit, a bacon and apple topped burger with sweet potato fries, accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce. Seasons also serves an Impossible Burger. All burgers are accompanied by housemade pickles, made with dill, vinegar and a hint of maple syrup —delicious. The beef burgers were especially tasty, the smoky flavor, the brioche bun, the cheddar cheese harmonizing happily.

Seasons’ Burger of the Day recently was a bacon and apple topped burger with sweet potato fries. Gordon Dossett — Vermont Country correspondent. 

Seasons, 4566 Main St. Manchester Center, VT 05255


Union Underground

The egg burger at Union Underground in Manchester. Vermont Country file photo.
The veggie burger at Union Underground in Manchester. Vermont Country file photo.

Union Underground, with locations in Manchester and now Bennington, serves Black River’s proprietary blend ground beef, char-grilled, served in a brioche bun. We had the Build-a-Burger ($16: ours with cheddar, avocado and grilled onions) and the Smoke House Burger ($19), its signature burger.

Both burgers have nice smoke from the char-grilling. They come with lettuce and pickles (tomato and onions optional). The Smoke House burger blends the heat of pepper jack cheese and pickled jalapeños with a BBQ sauce, sweetened by maple syrup.

The veggie burger, made in-house, consists of black beans, quinoa, carrots and corn kernels, topped with local micro-greens, roasted peppers and in-house pickled onions. The taste was satisfying, but the burger didn’t want to hold together.

We also tried three fries. The regular fries and sweet potato fries were fine, but the standout was the truffle fries (well worth the extra $4). These began life as normal fries, but attained hall-of-fame status when tossed with grated parmesan and “the highest quality truffle oil” the chef could find and served with a luscious garlic aioli.

Extra: Twenty-four taps provide challenging choices for beer drinkers. Consider, for example, the BBCO Barista Double Coffee Porter, smooth, dark and full; or the Four Quarters Phaze IPA; or 3 Floyds’ Zombie Dust APA; or … an Altbier from Ten Bends. What about something from Weird Windows? Is it too late for the Von Trapp Oktoberfest? (Ok, I’ll stop now.)

Union Underground, 4928 Main St. Manchester Center, VT 05255

Union South, 107 South St. Bennington, VT 05201


Zoey’s Double Hex

The burgers at Zoey’s Double Hex, in Manchester. Vermont Country file photo.

Zoey’s ground beef has come down from Burlington “since day 1,” forming the heart of some dozen burgers listed on the menu, including the Philly Cheese Burger, Barbeque Bacon Burger and Zoey’s Big Blue Burger.

Along with the cheeseburger ($13), we were compelled to try the Holy Moly Burger ($17), to see if it provoked us to say, “Holy Moly.” This burger, an Eiffel Tower of food, a Flying Wallenda act on a plate, features a burger, layered with cheese and coleslaw, stacked up with onion rings, its Piantedosi flour roll branded with “HEX,” kept upright by a steak knife stabbed into its top. What could we say but, “Holy moly?”

Since none of us has the jawspan of a T-Rex, we squished the burger down, rendering it highly edible. The burger’s tangy, not-too-sweet coleslaw, played off the onion rings, the perfectly char-grilled beef and the bun to create some acrobatics off the plate and in our mouths.

Having made the poor strategic move of eating the Holy Moly Burger first, the cheeseburger was not as spectacular, but still, an excellent, juicy char-grilled burger.

Of Zoey’s two vegetarian burger options, we chose the portobello burger ($11), which had a pleasing smoky flavor, accompanied by a vinaigrette dressing.

Steak fries (included with the burgers) have a slight crispiness that yields to soft inner potatoness. If you prefer crunch, opt for the homemade potato chips.

Extra: Onions, served two ways as appetizers: yummy, crispy, sweet, fried onion strings with a chipotle aioli dip and French onion soup, topped with bread and swiss cheese.

Zoey’s Double Hex, 1568 Depot St. Manchester Center, VT 05255


Final words: As a public service, my intrepid team and I must call out the generally sad state of veggie burgers. I suppose restaurants get points for trying to accommodate pesky veggie people (and one of us is a quasi-veggie person). Still, mushy, soggy burgers that collapse in a heap or cardboard tasting wedges aren’t really gastronomical delights. (And one of us has a gripe about kernels of corn popping up like so many little teeth smiling back at us. Yes, she will be taking this up in therapy.)

The only veggie burger that stood out for flavor and texture was Honeypie’s veggie burger, and Zoey’s portobello option, too, was excellent. We see a marketing option here for some aspiring veggie chef.

If you have complaints about our choices here, write to: Gordon@Idontcare.com.

Sorry for the snarky suggestion (too many burgers).

Seriously, I would welcome comments, and we will seek to follow up on other outstanding burger places — either in Vermont Country magazine or other Vermont News & Media publications. Email me at: GDossett@manchesterjournal.com

Gordon Dossett traded the traffic and urban ugliness of Los Angeles for the Green Mountains. He lives with his teenaged children, a cat and a dog, packing urban sprawl into one home. He likes making to-do lists and losing them.

Vermont Country magazine

Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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