Best lunch (Outside Chittenden County)
Just two years ago, Mexican food in central Vermont was generally limited to nachos and jalapeño poppers. Then the Mad Taco opened in Waitsfield. And a little more than a year later, chef/co-owner Joey Nagy teamed up with the Three Penny Taproom folks to open a sister taqueria in Montpelier. The result was a hot and spicy revolution.
We’re not kidding about the heat. Both Mad Taco locations experiment with an ever-changing arsenal of hot sauces — some scorching — flavored with everything from carrots to chocolate.
The sauces might be best appreciated on the pork torta, a homemade roll stacked with smoky chunks of well-marbled pork, along with fatty but crisp cured belly, creamy avocado and tangy cabbage slaw. And there’s not a nacho in sight.
SEVEN DAYS: Has the lucha libre [Mexican wrestling] theme at the Waitsfield location ever stirred up an impromptu contest?
JOEY NAGY: One, yes. After a very stressful night, my chefs and I had a nice little wrestling match. [Cook] Simón Villa and I went at it. I’m not at liberty to say who won.
2012 Runner-up: Pinky's on State