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We Vermonters know that our summer season can be short, so we appreciate being outside as much as possible. Here are three fun places that offer excellent food, at reasonable prices, while providing an environment that is conducive for sitting and enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Top of the Hill Grill, at 632 Putney Road (Route 5) in Brattleboro, has a 25-year history of serving outstanding BBQ. Sitting at picnic tables, above the intersection where the West and Connecticut rivers meet, is a unique and pleasant way to savor flavorful pulled pork, smoked turkey served hot or cold, tender brisket, chicken, burnt ends, mouthwatering ribs, burgers, sandwiches and wraps. Most meats are served by weight, either a half or full pound, as a plate or as a sandwich. Take-home is a favorite here.

Brisket, for example, is $14 for a half pound and $16 for a sandwich with fries. A half bird is $12. Ribs are $16 for a half rack and $30 for a full rack. Especially tasty is the Reuben, with either turkey or brisket at $14. The chicken bacon club at $14 is also exceptional. Vegan wraps are available as are oozy yet crunchy quesadillas which you can custom order with the fillings you like. Sides include fries, coleslaw, corn bread and roasted garlic potatoes. All drinks are $3, as are desserts such as brownies and carrot cake.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., you simply place your order at the counter (or in advance at 802-258-9178), pick your table and wait for your name to be called. It’s all relaxed, easy and an overall delightful experience.

About 12 miles northwest of Brattleboro is the beautiful village of Newfane, where a first-rate restaurant called Fat Crow can be found. At 550 Route 30, Fat Crow provides cool music at dining level volume to accompany a fabulous menu, outstanding food and an overall terrific vibe. An ample portion of flavorful eggplant fries priced at $9 is a smart way to prepare your taste buds for the top-notch meal to come.

We can recommend the delicious clam chowder (cup or bowl), steak tips at $15, jumbo wings for $18, fried shrimp at $13, two crab cakes for $19, mac and cheese at $13, $27 if you add lobster. Mussels at $15 and poutine fries at $13 are both wise choices. There are five varieties of tacos ranging from $16 to $20. Lobster ravioli is priced at $25. Numerous salads are offered with chicken, steak or shrimp available for an additional fare.

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Burgers at $16, strip steak at $29 and ribs at $21 for a half rack and $31 for a full rack are extremely satisfying meals. Numerous pizzas, including build-your-own with a choice of at least 15 different toppings, range from $16 to $24. Recent specials include scallops, short rib ravioli, roast lamb, sesame crusted yellowfin tuna and swordfish. Zucchini sticks were a taste treat. There is an extensive choice of thoughtfully selected wine and beer. On several visits, efficient and courteous service was provided by Michelle.

Fat Crow is open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 802-221-4177. Outside seating is first come, first serve.

For those of us who like food trucks, Amy’s on the Road in Manchester is as good as it gets. Some of you may recall Amy as owner and chef of The Perfect Wife, a very popular area restaurant for many years. Now that culinary skill and talent is conveniently available in an airstream near Mother Myrick’s at 4361 Main St. Open April 15 through Oct. 15, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Amy’s is an ideal choice for breakfast or lunch.

For the morning, Amy’s famous breakfast sandwich served on a toasted, everything flavored kaiser roll at $7.50 is just scrumptious, as is her breakfast burrito at $9.45. Bacon, sausage and hash browns are available as add-ons or try a healthy combination of yogurt, granola and fresh fruit at $8.25. Muffins to go along with coffee are very good at $1.95. Lunch selections include a BLT on grilled white bread for $9.95, a fried chicken sandwich at $11.95, falafel (spicy chickpeas) on warm pita bread for $10.95, and a pulled pork wrap with Swiss for $10.45. Tasty sides include coleslaw, shoestring fries and hash browns.

There are also daily specials and online ordering is simple and convenient at 802-753-6105. Carrot cake, whoopie pies and beverages are all available at reasonable prices. Outside seating is available at picnic tables set on the lawn next to Amy’s.

These three venues are some of the many, very pleasant settings in the Southern Vermont community where we can enjoy good food amid beautiful surroundings. Please feel free to email us at with your favorite outdoor food trucks or restaurants.

David Meiselman and Myra Packman are food and restaurant columnists for Vermont News & Media. They can be reached at


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