#275: The Trax Taproom & Kitchen

12:15PM, 4/23/2022

Today for lunch I visited the new Trax Taproom & Kitchen, located on Vernon Street at S. Grant, kitty corner from the town square and across the street from the old post office and also across from a very convenient free parking garage. I’ve been to this location at least a couple times now for the blog. It’s been a coffee shop and a grilled cheese shop most recently and was vacant for quote some time. Now it offers a huge beer selection and a good selection of mid to upper tier bar foods. I parked in the parking garage, launched my drone and snapped some photos from the upper deck and headed in just after noon.

Found this nice mural at the entrance to the parking garage

My first impression upon entering was that it felt much more spacious and open than previously with Cheese Louise and especially with Extreme Java Jungle Cafe. They retained the iconic fireplace and the bizarre ceiling fans, that resemble a miniature carnival ride, which I enjoyed. Off to the right side there is a large roll-up style window that was open today to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Just past that is a couple of coolers with a large assortment of craft beers in cans ready to go. They can be enjoyed in the store but they do charge a small fee as they encourage them to be taken home.

As I was looking around and checking out tables for the best light I was beckoned up to the bar by a gentleman (might have been one of the owners, who I believe are a pair of brothers) and decided to take a seat up there. I scanned the QR code to check out the beer selection and was handed a physical menu for food. They do have an LCD TV that rotates through their beers but with so many to look at the phone version is slightly more convenient. I do always love when these types of places use Untappd because not only can you check out their menu at any time online in the app, you can check in with the app and it appears right on the menu in store. By the time I left I had swept the 5 available slots. My friend rightfully commented that using a flight to do so is “cheating for sure”, but I’ll take the win anyway ;).

Anyway on to what they offer! They’ve got an impressive 30 beers on tap and 18 food items, just about all which are well suited for sharing. The tap list was heavy with Moksa beers, the remainder of a recent tap takeover. I started out out with a glass of Mounds of Green IIIPA from Faction Brewing (IPA – Triple, 10.5% – 70 IBU)[$10]. This was probably about an 8-10oz pour, nice and cold. While I sipped on this potent IPA I skimmed the menu and picked out a couple items. Before I ordered I spotted an order of their Steam Engine Fries [$6] which looked amazing, crispy and golden fried, up in the kitchen window ready to be served. I fought off my desire to order those and went with the Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers (stuffed with cream cheese mix, wrapped with bacon, drizzled with paprika crema)[$10] that I had already settled on.

I wasn’t paying too much attention to the time but these took maybe 10 minutes or less to come out. Wow. I’ve had a lot of jalapeño peppers but these were in a class of their own. Maybe the best I’ve ever had. They were presented on a bed of arugula and the bacon was nice and crisp. I was amazed at how well they held together when taking a bite. The bacon held right on and didn’t come unraveled through several bites. The jalapeño had a nice heat without being too spicy, and the cream cheese cooled off what heat might have threatened to overwhelm it. I loved this.

I was about done with my IPA as I finished off the poppers and had noticed some flight boards stacked up behind the counter so I decided to get a flight with my next item, the Trax Tacos (Chicken, cheese, pico, pickled red onion, paprika crema)[$12]. For my flight I went with:

  1. Nuclear Powder (Outer Range Brewing Co. – Double New England IPA – 7.6%)
  2. N3LSON JUIC3 (Alvarado Street Brewery – Triple New England IPA – 10%)
  3. Key Lime Pirate (Barebottle Brewing Company – Sour, Fruited – 5%)
  4. In Harmony (Moksa Brewing Co. – Imperial Stout, Double Pastry – 12.7%)

Both the flight and tacos came out at about the same time. The tacos were street-taco-sized and the tortillas had a layer of cheese grilled to the outside with crispy bits flaring out here and there, which reminded me a lot of Squeeze-Inn’s cheese skirt, albeit much lighter. These tacos were outstanding, with tender pulled/shredded chicken that is making me hungry again just thinking about as I type this a couple hours later.

The beers were all great, especially In Harmony, which I’ve had a bunch of at Moksa, and probably still have a bottle or two in the beer fridge. The N3LSON JUIC3 and the Key Lime Pirate are also major standouts from this flight.

In Harmony, with my wrist band from today’s bottle release at the brewery

I’m extremely pleased by this visit and very happy to see this location finally being utilized in a way that I think should last a long time. It’s a great addition to Vernon Street, a spot you can hop over to after grabbing a bite at one of the other restaurants or after an event at the town square.

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