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Aug 24, 2010 11:01 AM

Profligate Austinites Top USA in Taco [ and other ] Dollars

Love the quote "Big-spending Austinites love their tacos."

We're number 1.

Austinites spend more money on food per year than any other city dwellers in the United States.

What Austin food source received the most of your hard earned dollars in the last year?

Mine is easily Fiesta Mart. I shop there a minimum of 3 times a week, sometimes 5.

The info graphic exults " a lot of Torchy's Tacos" but what they fail to mention is that it doesn't take a lot of Torchy's to break the bank.

Want to to save a few grand of your taco dollars? Quit paying 3 dollars apiece at the over priced west side taco joints and come to East Austin where cheap tacos rain from the sky.

Addendum: I just studied the photo at the top of the article. It's been nigh onto a decade since I walked into Tacodeli and now I remember why.

Look at the prices on that chalkboard. Can we all pool our money together and fly Mil Mascaras into Austin to hit the owner of this clip joint with a Plancha Suicida?

Something tells me if this person found themselves on the business end of a couple flying bodyblocks they might rethink their business model.

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  1. remind me to sign you up for an econ class. supply and demand determine prices! don't blame the business owner for making a smart decision. If it were too expensive he would have gone out of business by now

    6 Replies
    1. re: chrisdds98

      It's not exactly that simple. Yes, supply and demand do play a big role, but so do rents (I bet Torchy's pays dearly for their prime real estate). There's also the strange paradox of price points: the more you charge for a product, the higher the perceived value. While downtown yuppies might turn their noses up at a $1.00 taco ('eww, poor people food'), they might be more inclined to pay if it's $3.00. No idea why, but it happens to be the case.
      All that said, I'm still a fan of the $1.00 tacos. Our taco lady at La Fogata on Burnet takes good care of us, and yes, she gets a lot of our business.

      1. re: gilintx

        I'll sign you up for an econ class too, gilintx! Businesses are around to make money. You pay for better real estate to get more customers to make more $$. However if you're prices are too high you will lose clients to other establishments regardless of what your costs may be

      2. re: chrisdds98

        Not sure what your line of work is chris dds but I'm in the restaurant field. The food economics classes I took in culinary school back in the 90's are still in effect at my current restaurant where we use gross margin pricing to arrive at our menu prices.

        I know not all restaurants use this method [some use the prime cost method or combination pricing] but we feel this is a fair method of pricing our foods.

        Some of the taco joints in Austin use the PT Barnum method of costing their menus and more power to them. You call it a "smart decision", I call it fleecing people of their hard earned taco dollars.

        We can disagree on this and people can eat all the 3 dollar tacos they desire at Taco Deli and I'll continue eating all the dollar fifty tacos that Yolanda at Tacos el Rico offers.

        Let's not forget the context of the original post though: What Austin food source received the most of your hard earned dollars in the last year?

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          I'm a small business owner so I guess thats why i get a bit riled up about this subject. I know most restaurant owners are poor businessmen (thus the high rate of attrition).

          I think if you can produce a superior product consistently and can market it effectively to get a loyal following you deserve to be compensated more for all of your efforts. I know that when I go to a place like uchi or wink I'll have a fantastic meal. Even though it is on the pricey side I think its well worth the $$.

          To answer your question, my taco dollars have been split between Milts Pit BBQ in Kyle (awesome Q right by my place), chick-fil-a (solid fast food for lunch) and Uchi.

          Uchi Restaurant
          801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

          1. re: chrisdds98

            blah blah money blah blah supply and demand blah blah blah blah tangentially related to food talking point demonstrating our so-called intelligence

            cant we all agree that we should torch the westside and let the minorities run wild? haha i only kid

            also unfortunately the latest takers of my money have been the late night dollar menu mexican staffers at local fast food joints. damn you lack of dinero! (and time during the waking hours when decent people walk the earth)

            1. re: chrisdds98

              Uchi and Chick-fil-a sell tacos?

              Uchi Restaurant
              801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

        2. Quicken says I have spent $2900 year to date on dining. Guess I better get moving.
          The top of that list was Chuy's and Kerbey. Although I can hear the groans, I'm lazy, and there's a Chuy's a mile from my house, so that includes a lot of take out rellenos. I'm not surprised about Kerbey either, it's always open, and if I stick with Paris, Texas, I'm usually pretty happy.

          Rounding out the top 3 is lightning rod Torchy's :)
          Personally I love both the ubiquitous taco trailers and tacqueria's and Torchy's, for entirely different reasons. The fountain Dublin Dr. Pepper always warms my heart.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NWLarry

            tangent alert:
            love the paris, texas at kerby, and that's pretty much all i get.
            when i feel particularly decadent, i get the queso upgrade.

          2. I have had two tacos from Torchys. One about 6 months ago as out take which I thought was reasonably good. Last Sunday I ate there, on site, and got the Democrat, beans and a beer. I not only was disappointed in the flavor of the meat and the seasoning, it all made me a bit ill. The beans were a pasty mass that resembled something more like mashed sweet potatos than beans.

            Yes, I have a lot better tacos from trucks than at Torchys. But, at Torchys you can sit in an AC'd building, can order a beer and have a restroom on premises and they have off street parking available. These things cost money and they must be recouped by a higher price on the product it would seem to me.

            ( Interesting side note: there is a burger place in Kerrville that I like that was not selling enough beer to warrant a license. So what do they do now? They give the beer away and hope you leave a tip large enough to cover the cost. Problem is all they keep is Bud Lite because that is what the owner drinks. Good concept though. )

            2 Replies
            1. re: singlemalt

              From upthread "What Austin food source received the most of your hard earned dollars in the last year?

              Mine is easily Fiesta Mart. I shop there a minimum of 3 times a week, sometimes 5."

              Recent visit to Fiesta:

              Family pack of fresh pig tails: .99 cents a pound. Made 6 quarts of Pig Tail Soup

              Family pack of fresh pig feet: 1.29 a pound. Threw them on the smoker for a couple hours. Now they're ready for pork stock

              Avocados: 4 for a dollar. Mashed into a tub of guacamole

              Family pack of chicken leg quarters: .99 cents a pound. 3 hours over hickory in the backyard. Ready to be turned into White Chili

              Hatch Peppers: 1.29 a pound. Went light and got 5 pounds. Charred over hickory, ready to go in the white chili

              Great Northern Beans: .99 cents a pound. Two pounds, another crucial part of the pending white chili.

              Bananas: 19 cents a pound

              Family pack Kountry Boys pork sausage. Under 6 dollars for 10 links. Great commercial brand sausage. Smoked over hickory and ready for breakfast tacos and what have you.

              I haven't walked in an HEB in some time. The festive atmosphere and bargain pricing at Fiesta make this my home shop.

              What market gets the most of your hard earned grocery dollars in Austin?

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                I'm still an HEB guy, but I do have to sing the praises of La Familia grocery on Research just south of Ohlen (in the Shell station). The produce is fresh, and has a great turnover, and you can find stuff like Mexican oregano, whole cloves, and dried chiles for cheap. The meat looks fabulous, though I haven't bought fresh meat from them yet. I have bought barbacoa and carnitas, though, which is sold on weekends, and I can vouch that it is excellent.