The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont epitomizes the most beloved elements of Vermont — scenic mountain views and rolling hills, beautiful lakes, small friendly unassuming towns and farms all over the place. Although I have only been a few times, the memories remain and the ambition to return soon to this wonderful region of New England are about as high as the mountains there. Plus, on a personal level, my brother-in-law and family live in the area and it’s always great to see them!
When it comes to dining in the Northeast Kingdom, you’ll find many roadside and diner-type places that serve hearty meals at cheap prices — perfect as affordable dining options to complement the fall foliage season, winter skiing at Burke Mountain, spring maple sugaring or the abundant swimming and hiking opportunities in the summer.
Here are our three spots in the Northeast Kingdom, ideal for cheap eats dining:
Miss Lyndonville Diner
This is the type of diner that I wish all diners were like. The comfort foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner are served generously and the service is quick and friendly. The dining rooms are clean and comfortable and the counter brings about the best of local conversation No wonder the place has been packed every time we have gone here! I prefer breakfast at the Lyndonville Diner with its delicious, moist muffins and over sized waffles and pancakes. For dinner, the pot roast and roast turkey dinners have that homemade quality that really revs up the appetite, makes the taste buds jump for joy and satisfies the purveyors of cheap eats dining. The Miss Lyndonville Diner is located at 686 Broad St., Lyndonville, Vt. Tel. (802) 626- 9274
Kerrigan’s Convenience (CLOSED)
Don’t be fooled by the gas-station- meets-convenience-store facade as Kerrigan’s Convenience proves that sometimes the greatest things comes from the most unlikely places.
If you are looking for a homemade meal in the Burke area –that has sparse dining options — this is your place. Kerrigan’s goes way beyond just being a generic stop for gas, snacks and drinks.
Every once in a while, I come into a journalistic conflict when writing about a business in which I know the owners quite well. For the record, my brother and sister-in-law own Kerrigan’s Convenience. But this connection also allows me to write objectively about a business like Kerrigan’s because I know owners Judi and Dave Kerrigan have worked so hard to make the store successful. What creates the difference here is that Dave and Judi possess an absolute passion and dedication to running a small business and know the art and science to successfully creating home-style cooking. It’s remarkable what Judi and Dave have accomplished in a relatively short amount of time as a small business, having worked in other professions through the years. Dave continues to work as an emergency medical technician in the area.
When we visited Dave and Judi’s first store about a few years ago (they moved their business into a larger facility virtually around the corner in 2012), I was absolutely blown away by the delicious pulled pork sandwich — many of the highly regarded Boston area BBQ joints, as examples, pale in comparison with their versions. The pork is baked six hours daily with a special rub and then hand-pulled and topped with a homemade barbecue sauce. Other popular items include an amazing steak and cheese sandwich with shaved black angus steak, homemade pizza, donuts, muffins and cinnamon rolls. Kerrigan’s also features “specials” that have included curry soup, chicken and biscuits, and Mexican style stuffed peppers — virtually everything here is made from scratch. They also sell Gifford’s Ice Cream, New England Coffee, wine and beer.
“In today’s rush-rush society, we felt a need to serve food made from scratch, and close to home,” says Judi. “For many people around here, it was 15 miles to another pizza place. By the time you brought the pizza home, it was all cold and hard. Our food is all fresh, and close to home. People are sincerely appreciative of our business and have embraced it since we opened.”
Dave and Judi’s efforts have not only captured the attention of locals and travelers, but
also the media. In Moira McCarthy’s excellent article in the Boston Herald titled “Cyclists, outdoor enthusiasts will love Burke,” she writes, “When you’re out taking all this in, it’s good to know how the locals enhance their day. A stop at Kerrigan’s Convenience & Cafe in West Burke is a must. The cafe offers not just the basics (gas, drinks, snacks) but some out-of-this-world homemade fare for every time of the day, all with the touch of owners Dave and Judi Kerrigan.”
Judi says, “I spent years making money for everyone else. We felt is was time to do something for us. We’re doing just that and creating a business that our customers have really enjoyed.”
Kerrigan’s Convenience is located at 4015 US Rte 5, West Burke, Vt. Tel. (802) 467-1375.
The Lyndon Freighthouse
Tapping into organic and natural locally sourced foods, the Lyndon Freighthouse does a terrific job serving healthier versions of comfort foods without having the items taste like cardboard. It’s a welcoming place, too, located in a renovated 1878 freighthouse with a long farmer’s porch on the outside and a rustic Vermont feel on the inside.
The farm-to-plate approach is certainly unique in this region and the presence of Carmen’s Ice Cream parlor with “nearly 100 flavors of hard and soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, organic ice cream, and creative sundaes” makes the overall experience that much better. Breakfast and lunch items at the Freighthouse include pancakes (made with organic flour), omelets (made from organic eggs) organic beef burgers, wraps, salads, Vermont beer and wine (that would be for lunch!), homemade desserts and Starbuck’s Coffee. Adding to this appealing mix is the Farmhouse Pantry selling local products that support sustainable agriculture, small family farms and individual farmers and craftsmen. The Lyndon Freighthouse is located at 1000 Broad St., Lyndonville, Vt. Tel. (802) 626-4000
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