Zoey’s Double Hex (Manchester Center, VT)

In June, before several of our planned hiking and backpacking trips, we decided to do a warmup hike up one of our favorites: Mt Equinox in Manchester, VT, which unlike the Green Mountains, is actually part of the more westerly Taconic Range. It has a nicely-maintained but steep trail, with just under 3000′ of vertical elevation, usually rewarded by panoramic view of the Green Mountains (Stratton and Bromley) to the East, and the rest of the Taconic Range to the South and West. Well, on most days, at least; our visit was a pleasant hike rewarded with half-mile visibility in moderate heavy clouds. After a hike back down involving more than a little of a scramble looking for a misplaced cell phone, we decided that it was time to call it a day and head out for an early dinner. Manchester has a lot of great dining opportunities, but most of them skew towards either high-end dining, which is not a great match with sweaty hikers. But just east of town, as you start to head up Route 9 towards Bromley, is one of my area favorites: Zoey’s Double Hex.

I first discovered Zoey’s on one of my many, many trips between my office in Hanover, NH and a client’s site in southern New Jersey, and while it’s not immediately obvious, one of the best routes for doing that drive while avoiding heavy traffic is to simply cross Vermont and take the NY Thruway down to the Garden State Parkway. When things went smoothly, we’d often find ourselves looking for a meal stop someplace between Troy, NY and Springfield, VT, and several times Zoey’s Double Hex was just the right place at the right time: it’s right at the intersection of major routes 7 and 9, and it’s actually a fairly pleasant lunch and dinner restaurant built as a large pair of hexagonal buildings (the “Double Hex” of the name).

Inside the restaurant, the slightly unusual building construction actually makes for a nice roomy interior: there’s a large bar right by the entrance, a large, central open dining room, and a lot of booths scattered about the edges of the seating area.

Zoey’s has a license for serving beer and wine, but they don’t have a tap system, so it’s entirely cans and bottles, but at least on the beer side, they’ve got a good selection of both mainstream beer and Vermont and regional local beers (these days, this is almost mandatory for a Vermont joint)… on my visit this includes Switchback, Fiddlehead, and Allagash. Since we’d been hiking, I was looking for something on the lighter but still hoppy end of the spectrum, and a Switchback was a great option.

Way back in the 1970s when Double Hex originally opened, the place was primarily a burger joint, and they’ve generally stayed pretty close to that menu, although they do have a handful of larger entrees and specials supplementing their basic menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sides. They still do a solid burger: one of our group went for one of their standard burgers, the Super Onion burger. It’s their house Hex Burger (complete with a branded bun), topped with crispy fried onions and their house sauce. These were really good onion straws: crispy, flavorful, and not at all soggy. Along with some nicely-done steak fries (a modest $1 upgrade over the normal chips or coleslaw), and it’s a solid burger.

I was a bit hungrier, so I went for their weekend special, the Prime Rib (going for the 20 oz “Queen Cut” instead of the 24 oz “King Cut”). The version served up at Zoey’s Double Hex is quite good: a nice, thick slice of prime rib, with decent fat banding and a good herb rub, cooked to a perfect medium rare, and not overly salted. The presentation was simple (I went for the basic “baked potato and green beans”), but tasty and well down. Overall, this is probably one of the better prime rib specials I’ve had in Northern New England.

Normally I’d skip dessert, but after a good hike I feel like I can splurge again, and I’m glad I did, since Zoey’s has a very strong dessert showing. They’ve got a pretty good selection of New England classics like bread pudding, cheesecake, or brownie sundaes, but two items drew my eye: “Blubarb” pie (blueberry and rhubard, a combination I actually prefer to strawberry and rhubard), and chocolate pecan pie (long a family family, indeed, growing up my brother would always request that for his birthday in lieu of cake). I opted for the latter, and it was a really good rendition: Strong pecan flavor, a rich chocolatey-but-not-overly sweet filling, and a nice crust with a good crumb.

Overall, we really enjoyed Zoey’s, and it was great for me to get another chance to stop in (my previous visits were all pre-pandemic). It’s easy to see why they remain quite popular.

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