(I was going to send this as a DM, but aparently there’s a character limit that I’ve exceeded. Oh well).
This is just a data-dump of the best places for food and beer in downtown Burlington, according to me. I can refine this, or offer out-of-town options, or recommend other things to do/see if you have some other thoughts about what you might like.
Though, really, if you’re here with a group for just one day, hitting Church St (the 5 block pedestrian thoroughfare downtown) and maybe checking out the waterfront as well (a few blocks away), eating drinking and window (or actual) shopping are probably going to be a pleasant enough way to spend the day.
Ok, here we go . . .
Vermont Pub and Brewery - http://www.vermontbrewery.com/
This is truly “the original,” founded in 1988, and the first post-prohibition brewpub in VT. They don’t can or bottle, and, frankly, are no longer my favorite local beer after the literal explosion of options in the last 5-10 years. But, I’ve been drinking their Burly Irish Ale, Handsome Micks Irish Stout, and Forbidden Fruit since I turned 21, and I have no intention of stopping.
Also, many of the restaurant options I suggest are a little on the pricier side. VT Pub and Brewery is the place to eat if you want tasty pub fare at reasonable prices.
Zero Gravity - http://www.zerogravitybeer.com/
Their “home” restaurant/bar is American Flatbread downtown, but they also recently opened a tap room ~ a mile from downtown on Pine St… Really excellent beers; there’s a slightly larger selection at their Flatbread location.
Queen City Brewery - https://queencitybrewery.net/
Funky vibe, Queen City brews styles that most other folks around here aren’t making.
Citizen Cider - https://www.citizencider.com/
Excellent ciders. Pass on the food there, though. Also, every restaurant in town carries their cider.
Foam Brewers - https://www.foambrewers.com/
They’re the newest of the bunch; they make good beer, and get a lot of beer industry love.
. . . those are the ones that are walkable from downtown/Church St. There’s easily 10-15 more within a 5 mile radius, including Magic Hat (always fun for a tour) and other options.
Best restaurants in Burlington (most of which you’ll do much better at with a reservation, particularly if you’re a larger table):
http://www.pizzeriaverita.com/ (amazing pizza. Soft, chewy crust, really delicious sauce. If you’re looking for an “authentic” pizza, this is it. The best I’ve had, and I’ve had pizza. If you’re hungry, each one is a personal size.)
http://www.trattoriadelia.com/ (my favorite (upscale) Italian restaurant.)
https://www.honeyroadrestaurant.com/ (my new favorite place in town. Small plates, so it makes ordering complicated (or fun, depending on your perspective), but everything is special. Even items that look simple or plain on the menu are really just excellent.)
https://asinglepebble.com/ (incredible Chinese food. Not a take out place, nor is it a place where they charge you $28 bucks for the same dish you’d get at a take out place, but with slightly fresher steamed broccoli. Really delicious; everything is good. I highly recommend the Mock Eel (fried crispy shitake mushrooms in a sweet soy sauce.)
https://www.mlcvt.com/ (my favorite place outside of town . . . but only a mile away. Hyper-local, with an ever changing menu depending on the meat/produce/etc they’ve managed to get a hold of. If I were writing cliched headlines, I’d call it “elevated farm-to-table”.)
https://www.bluebirdbbq.com/ (It’s BBQ. It’s good.)
http://www.stonesoupvt.com/ (depending on your mood. This is very, um, Vermont, home-grown food. A hot and cold bar, pay by weight. Definitely less upscale than all the places above.)
http://www.pennycluse.com/ (If you’re here for breakfast. But there is always a line. Always. The last time I ate there we got there as they opened, and the place filled up before we got in the door. We were first in line with a 1/2 hour wait. But it is really great food. A good breakfast alternative that fills up less quickly is http://www.theswinginpinwheel.com ).
Other places that are great, but I generally wouldn’t pick over any of the above:
https://www.henofthewood.com/ (Upscale American cuisine)
http://www.farmhousetg.com/ (Expensive. Too expensive. But, the burgers are really good, so if you’re into burgers, it might be worth it. I still cringe when I pay for them, though. These guys also have a really excellent tap/can/bottle list for beer. And, there’s a basement ‘speakeasy/bar’ that’s separate from the restaurant, with a very cozy fireplace and seating, and you can still order food from the bar.
http://americanflatbread.com/restaurants/burlington-vt/ (home of afore-mentioned Zero Gravity beer. If you want pizza, and aren’t interested in the sort of schmancier option of Pizzeria Verita, this is the place (though, it is, as the name says, ‘flatbread’. Don’t expect NYC pizza here.))