Three Stones: Exceptional Mayan Food in Brattleboro, Vermont

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Three Stones restaurant occupies a tiny, unassuming space, barely noticeable as you wend your way into downtown Brattleboro, Vermont from I-91. But do not just drive by. Turn around, go in, and eat. Their food is exceptional. Better yet, make a reservation–there aren’t a lot of tables and it’s only open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 to 9 pm.

It’s a small space, with a bar up front, a small dining room, and a cozy, warm, festive outdoor space (which is likely not much in use during these winter months). The menu is small, offering only a handful of options, mostly traditional Mayan food. Everything we had was phenomenal. It felt like food prepared by a loving grandmother. So authentic, so homey, so delicious. I haven’t been that satisfied by a restaurant meal in a very long time.

The menu itself touches on the food culture of the Mayan people. Educational, and also very pretty! Here it is:

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We tried the tortillas and the onzicil (pumpkin seed specialty) tortilla. We got three tortillas, choosing an uah (griddled tortilla) with ground beef, a salbute (deep-fried) with cochinita adobado, and a panucho (stuffed with refried beans and pan-fried) with pollo adobado. As the menu describes it, the adobados are “chicken or pork cooked in achiote, garlic and banana leaf.” We got all the toppings on each: cheese, beans, mild tomato salsa, tomatillo salsa, hot chile salsa, cucumber, red radish salpicon, and cebolla curtida (pickled red onions). The tortillas differed from one another in texture, taste, and thickness, but each one was earthy, comforting, filling, and satisfying. I was rather fond of the panucho, with it’s thin filling of refried beans adding savory depth to the flavor as well as a certain heftiness to the tortilla. I also enjoyed the salbute, the deep-fried tortilla, because, well, deep-fried things are generally delicious.

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From bottom left to top right, an uah (griddled tortilla) with ground beef, a salbute (deep-fried) with cochinita adobado, and a panucho (stuffed with refried beans and pan-fried) with pollo adobado; each includes all the toppings.

I was most excited to try the onzicil tortilla, which is a thick tortilla topped with sauteed zucchini and onions and then covered with a very thick sauce made from ground pumpkin seeds and tomato. It was delicious. The sauce, almost more like a paste, was nutty, earthy, and rich. The dish was rounded out with the fresh notes of the zucchini and the sweet notes of the sauteed onion. We also tried a chicken and cheese empanada, which was nice, if a bit prosaic.

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Chicken and cheese empanada

Though I rarely get dessert, we decided to get one of each of their two desserts. First was a boca negra, somewhere between a flourless chocolate cake and a chocolate pot de creme with a touch of chili pepper. It was warm, topped with whipped cream, and absolutely delicious, not too sweet and yet not overly bitter, with a lingering heat from the chili. We also got a dulce de leche, which was tasty and sweet. If you are going with just one dessert, I say make it the boca negra.

Boca negra

Dulce de leche

I so thoroughly enjoyed the food, and found it so comforting and (excuse the corniness) so filled with love. I recommend this place very highly. “Coox hanal,” which is Yucatec Mayan for “let’s eat.”

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