Niche local bar makes eating out fun and affordable

Chris’ Critiques


I’ve probably walked or driven by Drifter’s Cafe & Bar over a hundred times since it opened last June and never thought to venture inside; that was my loss.

Located at 156 North Winooski Avenue, it has a funky but unassuming exterior. This, however, provides the perfect cover for one of Burlington’s hippest and, quite frankly, best eateries.

The vibe inside is welcoming, with plenty of plants, textured wood and dim lighting.

The restaurant’s casual style means that you go to the register to order food and drinks, seat yourself and bus your own dishes.

The small space is usually tightly packed with dates and groups of friends, with some smaller parties having to sit with strangers to grab a seat.

While you wait for your food, the open concept allows you to see dishes and beautiful desserts being plated and garnished, making it particularly hard to not order and try everything coming out of the kitchen.

The menu is organized into $5, $8, $10 and $12 dollar small plates, making dining at Drifter’s very affordable and customizable, since the diner can choose how much to spend and how much they want to order.

The food is chock-full of world flavors and unique combinations, offering fusion creations from confit-duck tacos to korean pork belly flatbread.

There is also a lot of vegan and vegetarian fare, with dishes like veggie sliders and sweet and sticky seitan skewers.

I chose the ramen for my main dish and paid a little extra to have it topped with crispy pork belly, which was recommended by a Drifter’s employee.

The savory duck broth paired perfectly with the slippery noodles, but I can’t imagine getting it without the crispy pork belly, which provided a saltiness that really rounded out the dish.

I also ordered the arugula and kale salad, which was perfectly dressed and topped with carrot kimchi and shaved pistachios.

After watching my neighbors devour the dessert special, I couldn’t resist ordering the beautiful French birthday cake to finish my meal, complete with fresh fruit, whipped cream and ice cream.

Drifters offers some of the most delicious food in Burlington at any price, and is a great place to meet people in a unique laid back setting.

Order whatever catches your eye; it’s certain to be delicious.