For better beer – Words and images by Mike V. Sardina
Comfort, Soul, and Transcendence
There is a little taco shop in a strip mall in Waitsfield, Vermont called The Mad Taco. Some may describe the joint as a “hole-in-the-wall.” Some may refer to it as being “eccentric,” “unconventional,” or perhaps downright “goofy.” That may all be true, or it may not be totally accurate at all, it is a bit of a difficult place to qualify—one thing is certain, however, it is absolutely one of my all-time favorites, and a must-visit for me each and every time I find myself in Vermont.
Owner Joey Nagy has built something special with the place, just a ways down the road from Mad River Glen, and just around the corner from the new Lawson’s Finest Liquids facility. There are also Mad Taco locations in Montpelier and Essex Junction, but Waitsfield, the original O.G. location, is my favorite.
The food is eclectic and eminently delicious. Carnitas, Al Pastor, Achiote Chicken, Chorizo. Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Fajitas. Meats are smoked onsite, and everything is bright and fresh and bursting with well-seasoned flavors.
And the beer is world-class, and you guessed it, also eminently delicious. Hill Farmstead’s Society & Solitude, Mary, Edward, or one of their Farmstead Ales. The Alchemist’s beers, drunk straight from the can—Heady Topper or Focal Banger. Or, perhaps, a tried and true stand-by, the archetypal Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada, always on the menu.
The joint’s aesthetic is simply put: awesome. You can’t help but crack a big smile as you sit at the bar and look around the place. Vermont vanity license plates, brightly colored Lucha Libre wrestling masks adorning the walls. If you have yet to hit this spot up, I implore you to do so.
And to quote the literary great, Tom Robbins, for a little perspective on everything The Mad Taco has to offer: “Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.” [Editor’s Note: or in the case of visiting The Mad Taco, a “cold glass of Edward.”]