Breakfast fiends come from all over to dig into the groaning platters of truly excellent pancakes cooked up at Sugar and Spice (Rte. 4 at Meadow Lake Dr., 3 mi. E of Rutland, Mendon, 802/773-7832, www.vtsugarandspice.com , 7 a.m.–2 p.m. daily, $6–11), a working sugar shack turned restaurant. Feather-light and studded with juicy blueberries, the specialties are a thing worthy of addiction — especially under a pour of the house-made maple syrup. In fact, during sugar season, upon request waitstaff will draw off hot syrup right from the evaporation tank and bring it directly to your table. And this may be the only breakfast spot where artificial syrup costs extra.
Casual choices for a quick, inexpensive meal abound in Rutland Center. For wrap sandwiches or light entrées, such as chili, hearty soups, and chef’s salads, hit Clem’s Cafe (101 Merchants Row, 802/775-3337, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri. and 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat.–Sun.; open until 8 p.m. Thu.–Sat. during summer, $4–8). Plunked on a main intersection of town, its brightly painted interior is a cheery place to relax over a hot drink or salad and the day’s newspaper. The owner keeps it local as much as possible, with a changing selection of photographs and paintings from local artists on the walls (including some really local photographs by the morning barista, and CDs from local artists for sale on the counter.
Heartier fare served with a tad more ceremony is what you can expect at Three Tomatoes Trattoria (88 Merchants Row, 802/747–7747, www.threetomatoestrattoria.com , 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs.; 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Fri and Sat., $12–18). The stylish spot’s open kitchen churns out gourmet pizzas from a wood-fired oven, alongside pastas and seafood dishes. Diners, meanwhile, can relax at their white-linen table among miniature topiary.
If “meat and potatoes” is more your speed, head toward Sirloin Saloon (200 S. Main St., 802/773-7900, www.steakseafood.com/ss/ , 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, $14–27). The family-friendly national chain isn’t breaking any culinary barriers, but it serves dependable T-bones and sides at reasonable prices.