STOWE — After a day on the slopes, you need something warm and filling. A salad just isn’t going to cut it. No wonder the burger is a staple on ski-town menus. We figured that Stowe — a town with only 4, 700 people but 45 restaurants — would come up aces in the burger department because basically everything is locally sourced: the meat, the cheese, the buns. We even found a burger with house-made ketchup at The Crop (1859 Mountain Road, 802-253-4765, www.cropvt.com, Crop Burger $13), which the beef lover in our party declared was the best he had ever tasted. The fried pickles — big slabs of pickle, not puny chips — won high marks, too. So, with the bar set high, we set out to find more. (Note: Nearly every place sells a veggie version.)
The Sunset Grille & Tap Room (140 Cottage Club Road, 802-253-9281, www.sunsetgrillevt.com) is the closest thing you will come to a local hangout in Stowe. This is where everybody goes to watch the game or shoot some pool, and the prices aren’t tourist-inflated. The Taproom Burger, a quarter-pound patty on a bulky roll, is just $7.49. We opted for the Cowboy Burger ($9.95), and it came out perfectly cooked, as ordered. “This is good, manly stuff,” our tester said. “Burger, bacon, cheese, and a little lettuce to make Mom happy.” It comes with fries, or you can pay a little extra to substitute onion rings or a tossed salad. “I give it three ‘yee-haws,’ ” our tester said. We also tried the ground sirloin sliders ($8.95) and found them simple (just a smidge of cheese and “special sauce”) and delicious, a good call for daintier eaters.