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Hardwick's Caja Madera Food Truck Settles in a Winter Location

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Tacos from Caja Madera in 2016 - FILE: HANNAH PALMER EGAN
  • File: Hannah Palmer Egan
  • Tacos from Caja Madera in 2016

This week, chef-owner Bryan Palilonis opens his Caja Madera food truck for the winter in a renovated two-bay, heated garage on Route 15 in Hardwick, across from the Aubuchon Hardware store.

In that temporary covered location, Palilonis offers lunch and early dinner out of Caja Madera's converted horse trailer. Next week, he'll add breakfast. Most orders are to-go, but customers can eat on-site at two well-spaced tables in view of a warming desert scene painted by Burlington-based Anthill Collective.

The menu includes four daily taco choices, such as housemade chorizo sausage, smoked guajillo chile-maple carnitas, and verde shrimp marinated in garlic and tomatillos with mango salsa.

Caja Madera will expand beyond tacos to offer gyros with homemade pita bread on Wednesdays, smoked wings with house-infused hot honey on Thursdays and barbecue plates on Fridays, Palilonis said. The breakfast menu will include burritos, empanadas and freshly made papas, or home fries.

On the drinks menu are Mexican sodas, such as Jarritos, and kombucha from Nomadic Roots Studio & Kitchen in Craftsbury. "Their sea-salt-and-lime kombucha is like a nonalcoholic margarita," Palilonis said.

The chef is no stranger to operating a food truck through cold weather. He launched his first version of the taco truck in February 2016 — outdoors — but has taken the past two winters off. This year, his normally busy summer and fall wedding schedule tanked, going from 30 events to six, and he needed to keep generating revenue through the winter, he said.

Caja Madera is open Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; starting October 27, opening time will be 7:30 a.m. Find the day's menu on Facebook and Instagram.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Keep on Truckin'"

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