Van Etten Does Vermont
Usually when musician Sharon Van Etten is on tour—as she is currently for her critically-acclaimed sophomore effort, Are We There—she finds food in unfamiliar cities the usual way: the Internet. "I star places I look up when I'm bored, so whenever we're passing through a new place I'll look at my map to see if there are any stars there," she says.
When she and her band visit Burlington, Vermont, however, no research is necessary. She had a brief stint in the outdoors-loving college town before moving to New York, and her brother Peter currently lives there, too. In fact, it was in Burlington that Van Etten played her first open mic show. Van Etten gave us her starred picks for where to eat and drink (with input from Peter), including a place where you too have a shot at jump-starting your music career.
Breakfast: Penny Cluse Café
"This is the best breakfast place in Burlington. I'm a fan of its biscuits and special herbed gravy (even though it leads to naptime later), with a fruit plate that's always seasonal and huge. The space is a little house downtown—it feels like a farmhouse when you walk in. There's usually a bit of a line to get a table, but time flies, and they have a coffee machine out front so you can have a coffee while you wait."
Lunch: Four Corners of the Earth
"A great interactive, deli-style sandwich spot is Four Corners of the Earth, which serves a huge selection of meats, veggies, homemade soups and bread. You can get things like artichokes and lamb, but I'm pretty boring—I really like the classic thin-sliced turkey with pepper provolone on light rye. A half a sandwich will do me right, then I save the second half for later in the day. They're pretty hefty."
Dinner: Trattoria Delia
"This is the place for an amazing Italian dinner. All of the pasta is handmade in-house, and the wine selection is impressive. There aren't many places I go to that know what a Teroldego is. The food is really fresh and hearty, and the fireplace makes it feel homey and special. I get the insalata mista and the gnocchi alla boscaiola and pair it all with a glass of Tami Frappato."
Beer: Mule Bar
"They're really into their beer in Burlington, and this place has an incredible selection with 16 mostly rotating tap lines pouring a lot of special small batches. There's also a line dedicated to whatever draft cocktail they're experimenting with at the moment, and a cider line that pours either Boyden or Citizen Cider."
Cocktails: Hen of the Wood
"The cocktail scene is just now catching on in Burlington, because it's such a beer town, but this dark, romantic spot has a great specialty cocktail menu. They're good at making the classics, too—my standby is a tequila gimlet. There's no set food menu, but it's always based on whatever is fresh and in season, and it's usually incredible."
Coffeehouse, Dive Bar and Venue: Radio Bean
"Radio Bean is a coffeehouse and bar, but it's mostly for music. It's actually where I played my very first open mic, at the urging of my sister. It's a good place for smaller bands to get started. I also just like to grab a beer and hang out there, so it's my pick for a dive bar as well."
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