A Whole New Food Vibe Arrives in White River Junction, VT!
Trail Break: Taps and Tacos — Whoa...
Through the front windows looking in on a Saturday night. A lively and alive place for all ages just opened in White River Junction. Trail Break. At long last!
Just when you thought White River Junction couldn't get any better, along comes a whole new eating and dining experience. Trail Break: Taps and Tacos has been long in the coming. It's situated in a brand new space at 129 So. Main Street, a new and funky, post-ski-mountain-feel restaurant space that's vibrantly colored with a super-hip large dining room behind floor-to-ceiling windows that look out at good ole' River City, VT.
A full house, and even a chair lift will greet you at Trail Break!
You must check out this new adventure in eating, but first have a look at the Trail Break website (Click Here) to get you fired up to go. You'll notice from a quick look that this is a place like no other around the Upper Valley. Think, maybe, San Diego fare and vibe transferred to an apres ski hotspot in Vermont or Utah, or to a wild mountain bike ride down a slick rock canyon on the outskirts of Boulder, CO, or a sunny beach palapa just a few steps across the hot sand from extreme surfer wave riding madness, or just about any place you want to be to feel electric excitement in the great outdoors. Here, though, the magic happens inside, with large screens showing some mighty wild videos of extreme sports like skiing and snowboarding through some pretty hellish spots. And the magic really comes to life in the kitchen where there has to be a 5-star chef who really loves to prepare tacos, sauces, quesadillas, and burritos for hungry adventurers. (The chef, I've learned, is actually not a fictitious superhero but a real person named Dennis Marcoux, who does love to cook!) The rest of the magic is all between your server and you, and it's for real and really positive.
Christina, our server. The house-made hot sauce she brought to our table was a delightful complement to otherwise delicious fare (and not too hot). Ask for it, and enjoy!
Servers were all wearing plaid shirts when I visited for dinner with my family this past Saturday night. It was a packed house, and we got the last table before a line started forming at the door. We grabbed a high-top near the kitchen and the bar, so service was great, despite the crowds. River Roost Brewery beer made just across the street was on tap, along with what seemed like about a hundred other really fine brews. We had the River Roost, and it was outstanding, as it always is! We also sat down to a bottomless basket of popcorn that was dusted with a chile-lime powder that must have come straight from heaven. Three baskets of the hot-popped kernels later, our party of four called it quits knowing we'd come to eat dinner and had to save room for the food.
We started with chips and salsa. The chips are clearly made in the kitchen and they were crunchy, fresh, and just fine on their own. Complimenting them were three different sauces, a guacamole that tasted better than butter, an ancho chile of some sort that made me crave more, and a pico de gallo filled with chunks of fresh watermelon. That's right, watermelon! Note that while there was warmth to the sauces, they didn't light my mouth on fire. Just a pleasant taste of south-of-the-border that made all of us want more. The nachos disappeared pretty quickly. Oh, and we were also served slices of grilled watermelon with a dusting of chili powder. I'd never tasted anything quite like it, and it was mouth watering.
Our wait person, Cristina, is great friends with the owner (taco-meister and grand entrepreneur/restaurateur), Topher Lyons, who launched this crazy, wacky, delicious, soon-to-be-foody-dream-of-a-place to dine. These two posed for a photo for us, and I can tell you, they were having a ball despite the crazy-busy night and whatever the constant demands might have been on their time. Topher stopped by most tables to ask how things were. A very nice touch.
Topher and Cristina make a great duet and clearly love what they do.
At my table, three of us had taco plates. We were greeted without much of a wait by soft tacos made in the kitchen and filled with fish, chicken, carne asada, or a really nice veggie filling of spicy chick-pea and avocado salad. There were three different kinds of fish to choose—spice-rubbed grilled Arctic char, spicy Ahi tuna, and fried perch. I'd ordered a burrito, but was able to taste a few of the taco dishes. I can tell you they were all outstanding and particularly yummy.
Topher, hanging with a table full of very happy people.
Trail Break engaged all five of my senses. The smell of great food, tastes of delectable fare and beer, the feel of the place and it's very cool colors and lively music, the tables made of old barn boards repurposed and finished, even the crunching of the popcorn and the excitement that filled the place with people who were having a great time infused me with energy and, dare I say, a really fun-filled experience for dinner. Who knew dinner out in the Upper Valley could be this much of a thrill?
My burrito came in two halves, sliced diagonally for a two burrito-sized dish that was plenty big. Good thing I was hungry. I dove headlong into the Ancho-lime chicken, refried black beans (and not the mushy stuff at all, so rejoice!), grilled corn salad and cheese blend, a lime crema, serrano guac, and fresh cilantro. Be still my heart. As I took my first bite, I couldn't stop. That first half was gone in an instant. Oh, and the lime crema is just too good to be legal. It's so delicious, I'm going to have to get the recipe and slather it, no, make that shovel it onto everything I eat from here forward. I may already be addicted after one burrito.
Be still my beating heart. Not just ridiculously delicious, but plenty of food, too. Look at the size of the second HALF of my burrito.
I recommend Trail Break highly. In fact, I give it my highest accolade for fun and food in the Upper Valley, and perhaps anywhere between here and the West Coast. It's got a funky-fun vibe that can't be beat, service with lots of smiles, people who love to be there the minute they walk in the door (and that includes wait staff, bartenders, and customers), an amazing array of beer, way wonderful fare, and a dessert that will knock your socks off. The cumulative energy of the wait staff and their smiles made the evening all the more, well, ummmm, a pure wow of an experience!
Taps galore grace the bar and its inhabitants.
You must try their waffle cone shell stuffed with banana blend ice cream, dipped in chocolate, and also filled with house made whipped cream that's topped with toasted coconut. And it's vegan, too — as made by the chef's wife, Amy Marcoux. Did I mention there's a ski chair lift you can sit in while you dine that's plunked down right in the middle of the place? I can think of nothing better than enjoying a chocolate-covered taco while relaxing in a ski lift in the warm and friendly atmosphere of Trail Break.
A dessert too good to be believed. Yummy goodness—and vegan, too.
To Trail Break taps & tacos I say, my hat's off to you. So are my skis, my boots, my poles and my deep powder gaiters and powder cords. I'll be taking that warm, fuzzy, wool winter hat off many times as I walk through your door to sit at your tables for more great meals. Thanks so much for bringing a whole new and high-delight experience in eating to the Upper Valley. I felt like I'd been out for a day at the big mountain for a spring-skiing adventure, yet all I had to do was wander down the street in downtown White River Junction.
Watch out Trail Break. When all those skiers heading north find out about your shining star of a chef, and all he can mingle together in mouth-watering flavors, plus your wonderfully-decorated space, cool atmosphere, great and happy staff, and amazing fare in WRJ, I suspect you'll need another dining room or two soon. Brava and bravo!
Dave Celone lives and eats in Post Mills, VT (except when he's in WRJ at Trail Break). Dave writes whenever he can about whatever is fascinating in this world. He manages Long River Gallery & Gifts in WRJ. Visit for a uniquely wonderful experience. It's a place where more than 150 local Upper Valley VT and NH artists and artisans show their diverse work of art and craft every day. Click Here to sign up to follow Dave each time he posts. Click Here to read Dave's previous article about the Great Turkey Drives from Vermont to Boston back in the 1800's.