My husband wooed me over omelets and bacon. Our love affair unfurled at the Wayside, the Coffee Corner, and the pre-COVID lushness of a J. Morgan’s all-you-can-eat brunch buffet. We savored the first meal of the day while we read newspapers, talked, and refilled our coffees and teas till well past noon. You could say breakfast built my marriage.
I still mourn the loss of long-gone Philomena’s perfectly cooked omelets with seasonal produce, and the now-empty Uncommon Market’s unspeakably delicious sausage-egg sandwiches (and I’m not saying that just because the former owner has a desk across the hall from me), plus I’m still getting over The Social closing to dine-in service and no longer getting those Sunday benedicts in the quiet lull of a historic inn.
But shifts in the local breakfast landscape have opened up new offerings, plus some world-class latte-and-croissants; these have corrected a short-lived misperception of mine that Montpelier and the surrounding area lacked a variety of breakfast spots. In fact, we have options, lots more than I realized before I dug into this story.
In this list I’ve compiled a list of local-owned eateries offering table and counter service.
I’ve added notes to places I’ve personally visited and have a special focus on tea; my own breakfast isn’t complete without a hot, dark cup of English Breakfast with milk, preferably in a pot so I can refill as the meal goes on. If you can do that, and don’t overcook your eggs, I’m in.
Arandas Mexican Cuisine. This local Mexican restaurant located halfway between Montpelier and Barre serves dine in or take out breakfast every day of the week. I’ll be trying the Enfrijoladas, three corn tortillas topped with pureed black beans, cilantro, onion and sour cream. There’s also my favorite, Huevos Rancheros, plus breakfast burritos and several other offerings.
Breakfast served 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily. 535 U.S-302, Berlin, (802) 622-0452.Filling Station. Serves a limited brunch menu on Sundays. What I like: outdoor seating, and hardly ever a wait in line. Nontraditional eggs benedicts are a feature, but there’s no classic benedict on the menu. A waitperson told me they can make them on request though. The hash is made with house corned beef and is worth a try, and I’ve heard folks wax on about the chicken waffles. Bring your own milk if you prefer it to cream in your tea: they serve creamers only (“we don’t have milk in the kitchen,” staff said).
Brunch served Sundays, starting at 10 a.m. 970 U.S. Route 2, Middlesex, across from Camp Meade.Goddard Cafe. Here you’ll get basic breakfast foods done exactly right, for a great price. This cafe looks and feels like a college dining hall, because it is. However, it’s full service, with plenty of seating, nice lighting, and not too much din. The chef makes a spot-on hollandaise, plus house-baked bread and scrambled eggs done perfectly. Hours just changed to be extremely limited, so don’t count on a leisurely late-morning brunch here. They don’t charge for refills on tea (bags and water included!).
See Facebook page for menu and updates on hours: facebook.com/GoddardCafe.
Open 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sundays. 123 Pitkin Road, Plainfield. (802) 454-8311.Kismet. Recently reopened in its Barre Street, Montpelier, location, Kismet is serving Sunday brunch outdoors while the weather allows. So far it’s the only place I’ve found that has huevos rancheros on the menu; plus Portuguese baked eggs, a savory bread pudding, and a carpaccio benedict. Get it while it’s still warm enough to eat on the patio.
Brunch served Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 207 Barre Street, Montpelier. (802) 225-6489.Maxi’s. A huge breakfast menu that includes all the usuals, plus extras such as steak and eggs, a variety of benedicts, and a selection of “Maxi’s Favorites” make this place stand out. It’s got the most robust breakfast menu I’ve seen in central Vermont, and the food is consistently good. Expect a long wait on weekends. I can vouch for the smoked salmon benedict. Tea is OK. Breakfast served all day.
Open weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 47 North Main Street, Waterbury. (802) 244-0910.Oakes & Evelyn. The much lauded farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Montpelier serves a pricey gourmet brunch on Sundays. The menu features a $23 smoked salmon and avocado toast that sounds divine, with a 60-minute egg, pickled fennel, radish, and local greens; plus a spiced pork belly bao bun and other breakfast fare. Let’s not forget the substantial cocktail menu; a perfect special-occasion brunch spot.
Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 52 State Street, Montpelier. (802) 347-9100.Skinny Pancake. Offers a variety of breakfast crepes, plus a sandwich, breakfast burrito and homefries. My favorite: the Breakfast Monster, with egg, cheddar, spinach, caramelized onion, roasted squash and basil sunflower pesto in a crepe. They make a good cup of tea, too. Breakfast served all day.
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays. 89 Main Street, Montpelier. (802) 262-2253.Statehouse Cafeteria (Capital Food Court). Serves Vermont products, made-to-order omelets, sandwiches, fresh brewed coffee, baked goods, and more.
Open Monday through Friday 7:30 to 10 a.m. and off-season 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 115 State Street, Montpelier. (802) 828-2252.Wayside Restaurant. A classic diner in business since 1918, it serves Vermont food and Vermont-made spirits, plus has been designated as a “Green Restaurant.” It’s not unusual to see a line out the door on weekend mornings, but don’t despair, the line moves quickly. Friendly service paired with copious coffee and tea refills keeps me coming back. I enjoy their eggs benedict served only on Sundays “while they last” and the veggie omelet with a side of sausage patties. Benedict tip: order earlier in the day, before the lunch crowd starts coming in. Basic black tea comes in a glass pot with a plastic cover that keeps it warm for about 20 minutes.
Open every day 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Breakfast served all day. 1873 U.S. Route 302, Montpelier. (802) 223-6611.
Birchgrove Bakery. It’s hard to pick just one thing, but if I had to, it would be the Salvadoran Breakfast Cake, eggy and dotted with sesame seeds. It’s slightly sweet, and made with rice flour. Birchgrove offers a variety of sweet and savory croissants and other pastries, plus experienced baristas on staff. My family loves the maple lattes.
Open 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 279 Elm Street, Montpelier. (802) 223-0200.Bohemian Bakery. They posted the sign, and they mean it: “All the butter. All the sugar. All the caffeine. All the time.” Flaky, generous croissants; savory options such as quiche and sandwiches among an abundant offering of pastries, tarts, cakes, and cookies. I’m partial to the “financier,” a small almond cake, and a new hobby: sip the latte in front of the big window and watch the world go by.
Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 83 Main Street, Montpelier. (802) 223-2537.Capitol Grounds Cafe. A few of my favorite things about Capital Grounds: scone-like blueberry muffins, outdoor tables, rotating local art displays, and the tea: perfectly brewed. Known for its signature batch-roasted 802 Coffee, it’s also a great place to stop for breakfast-to-go before work, but expect a wait because half the town’s got the same idea. I’ve tried most of the breakfast sandwiches but keep coming back to “The Basic” — bacon, egg, cheddar, tomato, and aioli on an English muffin. Don’t miss the local donuts, delivered Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. with seasonal flavors.
Open 6:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. 27 State Street, Montpelier. (802) 223-7800.Enna. Serves breakfast foods, but later in the day with a menu including buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwich and acai bowl.
Open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 14 State Street, Montpelier. (802) 225-6693.Espresso Bueno. I have heard that Espresso Bueno’s housemade chorizo breakfast burrito is not to be missed, but you can’t go wrong with a sriracha breakfast taco as a backup plan. If you’re feeling extra spicy, pair it with a “Red Hot Latte,” flavored with vanilla, house-made cinnamon syrup, and cayenne.
Open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 248 N. Main Street, Barre. (802) 479-0896.Hunger Mountain Co-op. Offers locally sourced grab-and-go basic breakfast sandwiches with gluten-free options. If you’re short on time and show up early, this is a great option for a quick meal on the go. Also has brunch at the hotbar on Sundays.
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week. 623 Stone Cutters Way, Montpelier. (802) 223-8000.Morse Block Deli & Taps. Serves sandwiches with locally sourced foods all day, including the “Egg Sando” with local eggs, Cabot cheese, “Hops ‘n Honey” hotsauce on a Portuguese muffin.
Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. 260 N. Main Street, No. 19, Barre. (802) 476-2131.Red Hen Baking. The grilled breakfast sandwich starts with a local egg, Cabot cheddar, and lemon butter on Red Hen’s own Mad River Grain bread, with a long list of add-ons including house-made sausage, hot sauce, and more. Loads of pastries and hot drinks as well, and, of course, all the breads. I rarely leave Red Hen without a baguette tucked under my arm.
Open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day of the week. 961 U.S. Route 2, Middlesex. (802) 223-5200.Cassandra Hemenway is The Bridge’s managing editor, and a food blogger, caterer, and cook from an earlier era of her life. She grows her own food because it just tastes better.