Taco Cat Cantina (Randolph, VT)

If there’s been one noticeable change in the culinary scene around Northern New England, it’s the recent appearance of more than a few decent taco joints sprinkled around the area, like Lalo’s Taqueria in Lebanon, Carlita’s Cocina in Royalton (currently moving into a permanent storefront), Trailbreak in White River Junction, and the occasional food truck serving up some good tacos. One place that’s been on my radar for a bit is Taco Cat Cantina in Randolph, and a slight detour on our return from Lake George allowed us to finally check them out.

Located on Randolph’s Merchants Row (next to the former Black Krim, which is now Wit and Grit, a new spot in town and on my future visit list), Taco Cat Cantina is mostly a modest store front for takeout, although during good weather they’ve got a nice outdoor seating area available as well. Which is useful, since they also have a reasonably good beer list (what place in Vermont doesn’t these days?), as well as house margaritas. Since it was a nice, sunny day, we started with a pair of margaritas out on their patio.

Like a lot of Taquerias, the menu at Taco Cat is basically pretty simple: most of the menu involves picking either tacos or burritos, and selecting a protein. They’ve got a lot of options: meat options include the classics (pollo, carne, chorizo, barbacoa) as well as two less common ones (chevon (goat) and pavo (turkey)) and four different vegetarian options. They’ve also got enchiladas, a handful of soups, rice bowls, and salads. Wanting to green things up a bit, we started with a shared house salad, and while this was basically just a straight forward lime-dressed green salad, it was fresh, nicely prepared, and flavorful.

For my entree, I felt that I had to stick with tacos (the place is named “Taco Cat” cantina, so I’ve got to try the tacos), and I went for a trio of (from left to right), Pavo con Verde (Turkey), Carne Picada, and Chorizo. This was a good trio of tacos. For starters, unlike a lot of places around the region, they double-stack the tortillas here, given the tacos a bit more substance and protecting them a bit from the infamous “taco blowout”. I was also quite pleased with all three fillings: the turkey was tender and moist with more than a bit of bold green chile flavor, the carne picada has a nice flavor and the all-important sear to it, and the chorizo had really nice, bold smoked pepper notes. Adding in some good house-made red salsa and some fresh-chopped onion and cilantro, and this was a solid trio of tacos.

In additional to getting two tacos, Carol also mixed it up ordering an enchilada, going for a barbacoa enchilda with house red enchilada sauce. This, too, was a nicely executed enchilada: a good fork-tender and flavorful barbacoa enchilda, nicely enrobed in a (spicier than usual for Vermont) rich, red enchilada sauce.

Overall, I really enjoyed Taco Cat. It reminded me a lot of the nearer-to-us Lalo’s, with a subtly different spicing and selection of proteins. I’d certainly welcome another trip there when passing through Central Vermont.

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