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Nov 14, 2007 04:45 PM

Torchy's Tacos - Food&Wine

Inside scoop - Food & Wine Mag will promote Torchy's in Spring upcoming issue. Photo shoot today on-site.

I for one agree - unique Austin only ambience; killer Green Chili Pork taco (go for the corn tortilla) and Queso- Torchy's is the best in Austin.

Wash it down with a Sweet Leaf Ice Tea sitting around the fire pit - doesn't get much better.

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  1. I couldn't disagree more. If Food & Wine is featuring them, they've got a solid case of The Emperor's New Clothes, imo. The tacos I got there were on the stalest, rubbery, cold and hard off-the-shelf corn tortillas I've seen in a long time. Add to that the fact that they wrote the type of taco on the outside of the foil with a nasty fume-producing marker, before sealing it tightly in a bag (just to make sure the marker fumes collected and penetrated everything in the bag), and I'd have to say it was a pretty terrible experience all the way around. I do think their setup and those light globes hanging in the trees are very appealing, but I'm not willing to overlook such terrible food for the sake of a cute seating area.

    2 Replies
    1. I used to be a fan of Torchy's until I unceremoniously vacated my exurb digs near Zilker, moved east and started exploring the offerings here. Torchy's is fine if you like the anglicized version of tacos, but doesn't hold a candle to places like Tacos Piedras Negras #2, La RegioMontana, La Monita, Seis Mesas or even La Michoacana. The flavor spectrum at any of these places just makes Torchy's seem bland and unsophisticated to me.

      1. I'll second the notion that Torchy's is "a tad overpriced." After getting around to the places I mentioned earlier, I pretty much feel violated by how much I paid in previous visits to Torchy's. I think the ownership realizes that they are catering to a certain patron that will pay a premium for their particular brand of ambience.

      2. I'm with you boshtx...Torchy's is one of my favorite spots for lunch - those green chile pork tacos are great (flour or corn tortillas)...It is certainly not an "authentic" taco truck experience (like the ones MPH and scrumptioschef often seek and find), but their deliciousness quotient is incredibly high.

        I wrote a lengthy review here:

        Torchy's is one of these places that irks the chow snob because it is delicious without being authentic. Creative new tex-mex style tacos thought up by a gringo and served in a quasi-hipster setting fliens in the face of the conventional wisdom that tacos must be made in a creaky trailer and eaten curbside amongst the day laborers in order to be considered "chow-worthy". FOr them, Torchy's is too easy, convenient and clean to be considered - even before the food has been sampled.

        just my observation...

        8 Replies
        1. re: Bababooey

          Well said Bababooey! Cool logo and passion in the "kitchen" are not mutually exclusive!!

          1. re: angusb

            Boshtx post often, on several boards, and about many subjects....I haven't been to Torchy's - perhaps your experience was an off day? It does sound like they buy their tortillas and don't prepare them in any way (like on a comal) based on what I'm hearing. It sounds like it is in the same class as Taco Deli - they try really hard, but the tacos there are anglicized (too many different sauces and salsas on a single toco).

            1. re: rudeboy

              I agree that the tacos are not of the "authentic" variety - but they are much more well thought out than those at Tacodeli (another frequent lunch spot for me). I think these are UPDATED versions of classic tacos...Hey, they used to bury and steam the cow's head and eat it because they HAD to, not because they WANTED to - we've evolved since then and so can our food!!

              I find many of the places that Twill raves about above to be bland and boring, albeit "un-anglicized".

              At then end of the day, there's enough tacos in town to satisfy each of our individual tastes. But criticizing a place based on its clientele is not only un-hound like, it is a bit racially insensitive.

              1. re: Bababooey

                Meh. Torchy's doesn't do it for me now that I've come out of the Cave, and not for any nebulous racially insensitive motivation, whatever that means.

                Please take this opportunity to expound on some of the dishes at those places I mentioned that you find bland and boring. I'd love to hear.

                1. re: Twill

                  Sure. The barbacoa at Tacos Piedras Negras was relatively flat, save for the onion and cilantro. Once salsa was added, this filling was passable. The Al Pastor was even worse. I guess you are right that it isn't bland, but it sure wasn't al pastor. I liked the tortillas, but not much else here.

                  Seis Mesas fits all the pseudo-requisites for a good taco experience (hole in the wall, east side, broken english), er, except for the tacos part...Really? lettuce, tomato and yellow cheese? On a taco? What is this, Taco Bell? Everything on my plate was poorly executed. Authentic, I'm sure...but tasted like frozen dinners.

                  I've not been to Regiomontana or La Monita, so I can't comment. I've reviewed La Hacienda Meat Market here: The most bland of all. Borderline gross.

                  Again - these are clearly only opinions. There is room here for you to love Piedras Negras and for me to hate it. But the location, clientele, staff, and authenticity of Piedras Negras or Torchy's has absolutely NOTHING to do with the deliciousness of their food.

                  1. re: Bababooey

                    IMO, you've missed the best things on the menu at Taqueria Piedras Negras #2. The guisado de res is outstanding dark and tender with a nice kick. The carnitas are moist, tender and delicious, with or without salsa.

                    In my experience, Seis Mesas only puts the lettuce, tomato and cheese on their tacos if you ask for them. I've never asked for them, so I've had a different experience. Their carne guisada is straight out of cocina de mama; it's a version which has an authenticity that has been lost in most of the others I've tasted.

                    I've not yet been to La Hacienda (though I'll have to prioritize that adventure now), but you should try La Michoacana sometime. Their barbacoa de borrego (sheepshead in the serving tray; offered only occasionally) is one of the best tacos I've ever had, and there's not a menu item at Torchy's that I would even breathe in the same sentence.

                    I agree that there's room for people who like Torchy's and people who prefer more authentic fare when it comes to tacos. I still think Torchy's recognizes and caters to a certain clientele, one that is willing to pay more out of concern for a vibe rather than seek out higher quality, less gentrified fare. But that's just my opinion.

          2. re: Bababooey

            From a previous post concerning Torchy's Tacos,"grab a couple Green Chile Pork Tacos,large and tasty,but Cook:please do not tell me the corn tortillas are homemade and then turn around 4 feet from me and pull them out of a bag from HEB and throw them on the griddle."

            I'll eat anywhere.

            While I typically resist the discreet charms of the bourgeois I've been known to wreck myself free from the daylaborer taco carts and hobnob with the Dom Perignon/Havana Cigar wit:I love Backstage[as long as Raymond is working otherwise it's pedestrian] and I've had good tacos at Torchys.

            Is it 50% better than El Rico or El Rinconsito?[a factor I consider due to it being 50% more expensive] No,it's not even as good.

            I'm not a Chow snob by any stretch.I seek intense can come in Clarksville or it can come in Montopolis.I approach my food from a Hubert Selby meets F.Scott Fitzgerald mindset.I like it down and dirty and I also like it upper crust style just better be good.

            The point being I didn't like being lied to at Torchys[while I stood 3 feet away]so I haven't been back.If I was in the neighborhood and hungry I might find myself there again...I'll be standing down by the creekside in my tattered Sonic Youth "Confusion is Sex" shirt,if you spot me we'll have a nice chat about delicous chow and all the forms it can be enjoyed in.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              This was my main complaint exactly, that the tortillas were terrible--but I must have said something that was against the rules, because my follow-up post was removed. Anyway, the corn tortilla was stiff and rubbery in the middle (stiff in the way that leftover Chinese food white rice becomes stiff, when the starch hardens in the refrigerator), and dried out and cracked around the edges. In addition to the texture, the flavor was so overpoweringly stale that if I were to name the tacos according to their flavor, I would have to say that I was served (and paid over $9 for!) three stale corn tacos. .

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