By Gabriel Schatz, Vermont Country correspondent.


Reluctant Panther 

When dining at The Reluctant Panther Inn, visitors are treated to an elegant farm-to-table menu crafted with care by Chef Sigal Rocklin. The selection of dishes highlights the diverse culinary landscape of Vermont, utilizing farm-fresh local ingredients on every plate. 

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The Reluctant Panther Cocktail, a sour made with Vermont-distilled vodka, and chambord. Photo provided.

When it comes to appetizers and libations, The Reluctant Panther has options that will have you coming back time and time again to sample everything on offer. The award-winning Brie and Lobster Fondue (Taste of Vermont, 2017) is creamy and decadent, topped with crispy pancetta, and served with a fresh toasted baguette. While you savor every bite, sample a glass from the finely curated wine list, or delight your taste buds with The Reluctant Panther Signature cocktail, a deep red sour made with Vermont vodka and Chambord.



Stepping into Madison Brewing Company, you’ll be greeted with the familiar atmosphere of an old-world American restaurant and the hoppy aroma of freshly brewed beer. Voted Bennington’s Best Overall Restaurant (Reader’s Choice, 2023), Madison’s has been serving up mouth-watering bites and house-made brews since the early 1990s. With a focus on providing a wide selection of draft beers alongside classic pub fare and regular specials, it’s no wonder that this family-owned restaurant and brewery has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of locals and visitors alike.

Some of Madison’s famous brews ready for pick up at the bar. Photo provided.

While you’re there, indulge in a basket of truffle parmesan fries and try a bowl of Madison’s famous French onion soup topped with housemade croutons and smothered in molten Swiss cheese. The selection of beer pairings is extensive and ever-changing, so whether you prefer a rich chocolatey stout (the award-winning Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout is a must-try) or a bright and citrusy New England IPA (the Downstreet IPA is our favorite), Madison’s has you covered — and then some. 


The Chicken Banger Sandwich at 421 Craft Bar & Kitchen, is served with hand-cut fries, housemade aioli, and a crispy pickle.

The industrial aesthetic and large outdoor dining area right on Main Street in downtown Bennington immediately set 421 Craft Bar and Kitchen apart from other local eateries with a distinct big-city vibe. Locals and visitors flock to 421 for the full-service bar with 24 beers on tap and a seasonal cocktail menu that earned the Best Cocktails in Bennington (Reader’s Choice, 2023). The kitchen recently added weekly specials to the menu, so you can try something new each time you visit. Stop by every Thursday for special deals on drafts and cocktails, and every Wednesday for pizza night. 

Among 421’s small bites is a pillowy soft Bavarian Pretzel, served with a tangy housemade mustard sauce. The mixed drink options at 421 are too plentiful to single out just one and too delightfully refreshing to stop after just one. Whether you’re quaffing a Peary Good Margarita or a maple-y Green Mountain Boy Smash, you’ll leave the bar feeling full and satisfied.    

West Dover

Trail 87

Hummus, Falafel Bowls, and Kefta Kabebs are included in some of the Central Asian-inspired dishes at Trail 87. Photo provided. Photo provided.

Just minutes from Mount Snow in West Dover, Trail 87 offers a unique menu of modern American cuisine. Under the leadership of local chef Tyler Haydon, the restaurant is perfecting culinary creativity in the Green Mountains, using fresh, locally sourced Vermont ingredients in every dish. The menu is a selection of global street fare with a local twist that balances modernity with familiarity to provide a unique dining experience.

Trail 87’s cozy ambiance extends from its casual cafe lounge into an intimate dining room, welcoming bar, and outdoor patio, offering options for any season or occasion. Whether you’re thawing out after a chilly day on the slopes or enjoying a summer evening on the patio following a day by the lake, Trail 87 is the place to be.

The beverage selection at Trail 87 is comprehensive and distinctive. Guests can choose from an array of craft cocktails, draft beers, artisanal canned brews, thoughtfully paired wines, and curated whiskeys. With libations that cater to every palate, the experience is rounded out by a menu that is built to be shared — from the beloved chicken shawarma to zesty Shishito peppers, Trail 87 is a Southern Vermont dining experience like no other. 



With waterfront views of the West River and regular specials, the Marina in Brattleboro is a paradise for seafood lovers. The comfortably casual dining atmosphere is a year-round staple — enjoy grilled salmon while watching the sunset over the river in the summer, or get cozy inside with a steaming bowl of loaded lobster bisque in the cooler months — there’s no bad time to visit the Marina. 

If you’re searching for excellent starters, you’re in the right place. Try the steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels, served in a savory white wine sauce, or grab a bowl of clam chowder for a true New England experience. And don’t forget to stay hydrated with one of several local beers on tap, or a perfectly balanced margarita. 

The Marina has inside and outside waterfront seating, a full bar, and the West River Hiking Trail starts at our door. 

Peter Havens 

Since 1989, Peter Havens Restaurant has been serving refined New American cuisine to the Brattleboro community. Head chef Zachary Corbin puts his love of Vermont onto every plate, using local ingredients to create a menu of elevated comfort food and fresh takes on timeless dishes.

Ahi Tuna Tartare, served with a ginger-soy vinaigrette, quick pickles, wasabi cream, and a rice chip. Photo provided.

For a first course, diners can savor the fruits of the sea with the Ahi Tuna tartare, or try the smooth and creamy duck liver patê, served with whole grain mustard, red onion jam, and cornichons. Alongside your starter, be sure to try one of the house cocktails; the Lavender Dreams cocktail, made with silver tequila, honey-lavender syrup, fresh lemon, and sparkling water is remarkably refreshing, and the perfect drink for a summer evening. 


Amaru Gourmet at Bar 580 in Brattleboro cooks up Peruvian food that merges tradition with innovation. Kristopher Radder – Vermont News and Media.

Known as a world-class culinary destination, Amaru, in Brattleboro, is an upscale restaurant that gives diners the chance to experience exceptional Peruvian cuisine. Drawing inspiration from its owner’s culinary journey across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Amaru has created a gourmet menu that blends diverse flavor profiles into an exquisite experience.

What sets Amaru apart is a special touch, “a pinch of love” that elevates each creation to a work of art. Amaru takes great pride in infusing passion and dedication into every dish, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. Amaru boasts a refined yet welcoming ambiance, enveloped in the rich, tantalizing aroma of Peruvian spices and herbs. The selection of dishes ranges from tangy ceviches to savory Lomo Saltado. Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado of Peruvian fare or a bold explorer of new flavors, Amaru is guaranteed to delight your palate and transport you to the rainforests, mountains, deserts, and lively cities of Peru. 

Williamstown, Mass.

CRUST Williamstown

Pittsfield, Mass., locals have known for years that CRUST is serving up some of the best pizza in New England. Now, with the opening of a location at 46 Spring St. in Williamstown, Southern Vermonters can experience the famous pies for themselves with just a quick hop over the border. 

Chef Jim Cervone spent years fine-tuning his pizza recipe to ensure the crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings were of the highest quality and came together to create the perfect pie. Combining the best attributes of both Neapolitan and New York styles, Jim has pioneered a new kind of pizza: NEO-NY. Swing by CRUST Williamstown for a variety of specialty pies, including chicken bacon ranch, red mushroom, and Nick’s white garlic, or build your own pizza with an assortment of fresh toppings.

The pies at CRUST combine the best aspects of Neapolitan and New York-style pizzas, which Chef Jim Cervone calls NEO-NY. Photo provided.

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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