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Whetstone Station (Brattleboro, VT)

As mentioned in the previous post, a few weekends ago I was hiking with my friend Alex on Wantastiquet Mountain, located in Hinsdale across the river from Brattleboro. After a pleasant hike, we went back across the river to revisit a SE Vermont favorite of mine, Whetstone Station.

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The Dinner Table (Swanzey, NH)

A few weekends ago, the snow hadn’t really fallen yet, and I used it as an opportunity to go on a short hike with my friend Alex. Looking for a relatively modest hike that still had some good views and was reasonably positioned between Alex’s place in CT and mine in NH, we settled on Wantastiquet Mountain, located in Hinsdale across the river from Brattleboro. It’s a relatively short drive for me, around an hour and change, but I’ve driven I-91 so many times recently I decided to take the NH route, going down through Keene, NH, and stopping for breakfast. Unfortunately, I don’t know any great breakfast spots in Keene proper (if I have Keene readers, I’d love to hear options). But just over the border in the adjacent town of Swanzey, right next to the Keene Airport, is a little joint called The Dinner Table.

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Man of Kent (Hoosick Falls, NY)

We’ve all got them. The roadside dining spot that we’ve driven by dozens of times, noting the relatively packed parking lot, and think to yourself, “I should check that place out sometime.” But you never get around to it; you aren’t hungry, it’s not the right time of day, or the folks you are with don’t want to stop. One of those places for me was The Man of Kent, a roadside bar on the edge of Route 7 in Hoosick Falls, NY, one of the few dining places road-side on that stretch between Troy and the Vermont border. Well, my recent New Jersey trip had me both driving through Hoosick Falls around dinner time, and I didn’t have any else traveling with me, so I finally decided to pull over and give the place a try.

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Rutt’s Hut (Clifton, NJ)

Despite its German origins, there are few food items as iconic to American food as the hot dog, and like most any American specialty, it has more than a few regional variations. In most any locale, anywhere in America, you’re never far from a restaurant that, even if not specializing in hot dogs, at least has them on it’s menu. But there are a handful of iconic hot dot restaurants sprinkled across the US that not only focus on hot dogs, but raise the art form to an iconic level with unique selection of sausages, toppings, and presentation. Many will argue about the specific places, but the New York Times does a pretty good job covering the classics in their 2023 Field Guide to the Great Hot Dogs of America. My travels often involve my traveling between NH and NJ, and my travels regularly take me by one of these great icons that’s also one of my personal favorites of the iconic hot dog joints: Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ.

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Oakes & Evelyn Re-Opening (Montpelier, VT)

Oakes & Evelyn in Montpelier has been my favorite Vermont restaurant for the last few years. They were our first “real” post-pandemic fine dining experience back in May of 2021 shortly after they opened, and we had several visits there in 2022 and 2023. It had basically become our go-to for special occasions, well-worth the hour and change drive from our house in Grantham, and we really got to enjoy Chef Justin Dain’s crudos, tartares, and roasted meats.

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Casita (North Adams, MA)

When we first moved to New England, we’d occasionally make some road trips down to Western Massachusetts, and we still routinely visit the Pioneer Valley, but for several years the more western reaches of Massachusetts seemed to fall off our radar. But a few recent trips hiking on Mount Greylock (MA’s highest point, and a decent hike) re-introduced us to the area, and have lead us to check out a few of the more interesting destinations. On a recent weekend, we went to The Clark Art Institute to see both their permanent collection, and a visiting Edvard Munch exhibit (pics here, they really do have a great collection), and afterward explored some of the area’s food and drink scene. After a pleasant round of beers at Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams, my eye landed on a nearby option for dinner: Casita.

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Black Mountain Burger Co. (Lincoln, NH)

In an an interesting parallel to our visit to Colton’s Social House in August after hiking in Yosemite, late September and early October found us backpacking again, this time much closer to home in the Pemigewasset Wilderness area in the White Mountain National Forest. After a week of hiking, we emerged back at the Lincoln Woods trailhead and, after stopping off at the most excellent Notch Hostel for a shower, we headed off for some much-needed sustenance at Black Mountain Burger Co.

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Colton’s Social House (Clovis, CA)

At the beginning of August, we went on a one-week backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. After a week of carrying backpacks in elevations above 8000 feet, when we returned to Fresno, it was time for a celebratory dinner. We were staying in a hotel adjacent to the Fresno Airport, which, while very convenient for travel, isn’t exactly a food mecca. But a quick check of the map showed that nearby Clovis, CA had a lot of good looking options, especially for the combination of “beer” and “burgers” which always seems to be one of my top post-backpacking cravings. So we ended up taking a short drive to check out Colton’s Social House.

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Carlita’s Cantina (South Royalton, VT)

Back in mid ’22, Carol and I had a pleasant visit with friends in South Royalton, VT, stopping off at Carlita’s Cocina, which was a semi-permanent food truck in one of the large parking lots by Vermont Law School. Carlita’s was serving up a combination of burritos, tacos, and rice bowls that I’d primarily call “Asian-influenced Mexican fusion”. They were tasty, and we thought they’d be a good addition to the overall dining scene in SoRo. The food truck also burned down in an apparent accidental fire in May 2022, just weeks after my review posted. But this wasn’t the end for Carlita’s. They had already been considering a transition to a brick and mortar location, and 6 months later, they actually opened their new version of Carlita’s, the now-named Carlita’s Cantina, on nearby Chelsea Street across from the South Royalton Green. As I’m writing this review, they just passed their first anniversary in the new location.

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Taste (West Lebanon, NH)

In early August, I got to try out one of the more welcome additions to the Upper Valley’s breakfast scene. Every since the Pandemic started and The Lebanon Diner closed, most of the Upper Valley’s breakfast joints have been overwhelmed with demand, so it was very welcome that Taste started serving traditional breakfast and lunch at the north end of the West Lebanon Strip.

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