Burlington’s South End Arts District
A neighborhood marked by the long, straight stretch of Pine Street, the South End has a steady pulse of art, food and drink in a state known for its artisans and makers. After decades of abandonment, the renaissance of local businesses, community developments, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, art studios and performance centers has transformed a concrete strip along Lake Champlain into one of the most exciting destinations for gallery hopping, eating and drinking on the East Coast.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the South End was an industrial hub on the lake’s serene coastline. Pine Street was the neighborhood’s metal heartbeat, with mills and factories making everything from can openers and brush fibers to coal, gloves, boxed cereal and maple syrup. Lumberyards boomed along the Canal Basin. A flood of workers spurred development on the waterfront, and working-class housing was set up beside the smokestacks signaling turn-of-the-century wealth.
When the industrial revolution dissolved and businesses moved elsewhere, the South End stayed behind, carved up with abandoned buildings and concrete. Over a century later, especially in the last few decades, the Arts District has been revived by a still-growing community of small business incubators, galleries, studios, restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops. Today, it’s a dynamic focal point for the maker-artisan culture Burlington is known for. And the South End keeps getting livelier.
Start With These Spots — and Then Keep Exploring!
Conant Metal & Light A Pine Street staple for the past three decades, Steve Conant is an innovator of extraordinarily creative art, lighting and decorative metalwork. Look for the astronaut mural.
The S.P.A.C.E Gallery The art collective known as Supportive Places for Artists and the Creative Economy (or S.P.A.C.E) is a Pine Street institution for making art accessible to the Vermont public and beyond — a space for showing artwork and for making it. Artists range from woodworkers and mixed media painters to photographers and an artist who makes sculptures from wire.
New World Tortilla For over twenty years, New World has been making burritos, tacos and wraps from fresh tortillas made daily onsite. The Chicken Vera Cruz burrito remains a local go-to, as does the Thai-inspired vegetable wrap with spicy ginger slaw.
Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar Dedalus, an oenophile haven, wears many hats. It houses an enormous selection of natural and biodynamic wines; a buzzy wine bar; a vast stock of local and imported specialty goods; and a cheese and charcuterie section with rare finds ranging from Cornwall, Vermont to Lisbon, Portugal. Grab a bottle and some tinned fish for a picnic on the nearby waterfront, or perch at the wine bar for O Bread Bakery baguette with Ploughgate butter while perusing glass pours and entrees.
Myers Bagels Myers has been turning out hand-rolled and wood-fired Montreal-style bagels for over two decades. Doors open everyday at 4 A.M, shortly after the belly of the oven is lit with smoldering logs.
ArtsRiot ArtsRiot — a destination for serious eaters, drinkers, artists and music-lovers — is at once a restaurant, bar, performance venue and events space. The spot has also spent half a decade hosting one of the liveliest pop-ups in the state, Friday Night Truck Stop — a weekly event that brings food trucks, vendors and artists to a concrete lot on Pine Street. ArtsRiot’s Vermont-loving beer, wine and cocktail list complements chef George Lambertson’s menu: global fare backed by local ingredients.
The Soda Plant In Fall 2018, a group of Vermont’s notable entrepreneurs set up shop in an enormous brick enclave that was once the South End’s industrial soda plant. This small business incubator now houses over thirty local artisans, artists and makers, including Brio Coffeeworks, Tomgirl Juice, Alice & The Magician Cocktail Apothecary, Shacksbury Cider, and ZAFA Wines and CO Cellars.
Speeder & Earl’s Coffee This funky, well-loved oddball of a coffee shop has been freshly roasting beans on Pine Street since 1993. Small-batch roasts add to the quirky charm of this longtime local staple.
Citizen Cider Citizen Cider’s “cider pub” on Pine Street is a happening spot —on summer nights, the patio and tasting room is perpetually packed with locals and travelers sipping hard ciders and seltzers over cider-brined wings.
Zero Gravity & The Great Northern Zero Gravity has been a watering hole for craft beer lovers since opening as a brewpub inside American Flatbread in 2004. Eleven years later, the brewery expanded operations to Pine Street, where a cozy yet spacious tasting room features a sunny patio, shuffleboard and bottomless bowls of freshly popped popcorn. Better yet, the brewery’s food program collaborates with The Great Northern, an all-day restaurant with industrial-lodge vibes and a locally driven menu.
Queen City Brewery Burlington’s vibrant craft beer scene is known for its internationally acclaimed brews and its overall camaraderie, which is why Queen City and Zero Gravity exist directly across the street from each other. A Pine Street destination since 2003, Queen City offers dozens of beers on draft and a particularly special dark lager called Dunkel.
Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory Store With over 35 years of craftsmanship, Lake Champlain’s chocolates distill expertise and quality as much as they highlight the essence of the Green Mountain State. Fill a box with delights like snappy almond butter crunch and dark chocolate sea salt caramels, and keep an eye out for their Chocolates of Vermont series: thick, nature-embossed coins in flavors like Evergreen Mint and Maple Crunch.