The Mad Taco
5101 Main Street, Waitsfield (locations also in Montpelier and Essex Junction)
This local’s favorite, a 10-minute drive from both Mad River Glen and Sugarbush, and 40 minutes from Stowe, The Mad Taco churns out some of the finest tacos and burritos around, which, combined with a well-curated selection of local beers, makes for an irresistible combination after a day spent leaving it all on the hill.
Located inside a relatively-nondescript strip mall in the middle of rural Vermont, the restaurant has a funky, eclectic aesthetic that ties together the four rooms that make up Mad Taco’s dining areas, most of which are ringed by stools and hand-carved high-top tables in order to accommodate the crowds that can form on weekends and holiday weeks. Skateboard decks line the walls alongside some fun artwork and playful decorative touches.
Everything on the menus is fantastic: from the smoked pork belly tacos to the carnitas sandwiches to the Big Daddy Fatty, a sort of open burrito piled high with deliciousness, to their wide selection of homemade hot sauces with a rotating variety of names that range in spiciness from 1, which is presumably suitable for toddlers, to 10, which is a proper hot sauce that accompanies you around for an hour or so.
Then wash it down with one of the dozen local craft beers on tap, including popular varieties from Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s Finest, and top it all off with a tequila from their selection. It’s self-serve casual, where they take your name, call it out when your food is ready, you get your own silverware, hot sauce, and napkins (off the paper towel rolls) and you pay when you’re done – all on the Vermont honor system.
It's the kind of place where the music can go from Wu-Tang to Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night,” and the entire kitchen staff is all of a sudden wearing sunglasses and singing along, which in turn gets the diners singing along, which in turn makes for a fun-as-hell time.
Which is a business plan that must be working for them because they’ve expanded operations to two other Vermont locations and it doesn’t look like things are slowing down anytime soon.