Jimmy K Does WRJ.

For years, a friend of mine’s father has been saying “White River Junction is up and coming.” In full faith, I always believed him. How could I not? After all, it had a lot of the necessities: three pool halls (as in billiards), equating to about one table for every eight residents; a run-down diner that seems to open, at random, a few times per month; and a genuinely interesting and quirky history. Once an industrial center, today, WRJ is an artsy and (on its way to being) revitalized community home to some great Vermont establishments.

Quite literally, White River Junction is a junction’s junction: train tracks meet, rivers converge, and highways overlap. Just over a year ago, my interest in the historic district was renewed as it became the place of my employment. Suddenly, my mid-day hunger turned into an excuse to explore and my searches for parking spots morphed into intentional wanderings. But, like many Vermonters, routines emerged and eventually, I found myself frequenting the same places.

  1. Tuckerbox Café: I’m not a coffee drinker, but my colleagues -- and the experts in charge of applying "free trade" stickers -- give their java high marks. For me, the appeal is the industrial/antique décor, the best BLT-on-Texas-toast in the area, and the jar of hot oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies, which, if you are patient enough after lunch, get re-stocked with a fresh batch at about 2:05pm on most weekdays.
  2. Vermont Salvage: Located downtown in a massive, two-story building, Vermont Salvage collects every faucet, radiator, bathroom mirror, church pew, and urinal in the state that was ever destined for the dump. Every item in the shop has a story, and the ability to be re-used -- a practice near and dear to many Vermonters. The amazing part: you can just as easily go in there with a specific shopping list and find what you need as you can enter with no particular project in mind and become inspired to build an entire new room around a vintage, soapstone sink that you stumbled on in “aisle” 16.
  3. Tip Top Café: It is arguably the best lunch place in eastern Vermont with the hands-down best garlic fries in all of New England (that’s right, I said it). They are advertised as being crispy, garlicky, and yummy. This is a gigantic understatement. Dare I say it is appetizer/side dish…(gasp)…perfection?

To be sure, WRJ might not make the pages of any Vermont travel guides, but it has a certain charm that is uniquely Vermont, and surely worth the stop, even if you are just passing through one of its junctions.

CerebralSybarite  – (August 20, 2010 at 10:37 AM)  

Au contraire about it not being a guidebook destination! The NYT nailed it last December!


Resident of suburban "Rio Blanco." :)

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