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Torchy’s Tacos, Austin TX

Torchy’s Tacos began as a food truck in Austin TX. Now you can get these “Damn Good Tacos” at one of 30 locations. And you won’t be disappointed.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

In January I did a weekend trip to Austin TX. I’ve been to Austin a few times, but it’s always been for a football game weekend. And on this visit, it was for a basketball game weekend. But Austin has so much more to offer, including history, live music, and great food. My friend Mary moved back to Austin 2 years ago, so I really have no excuse not to visit more often.

One of the places Mary raved about and said we had to go was Torchy’s Tacos. It began as a food truck in Austin in 2006; today Torchy’s Tacos has 30 locations.

We went to the Anderson Mill location, one of 9 in the Austin area. As we walked in, my first thought was that the setup looks a lot like Chipotle. But each location is unique, from the décor to the layout. All locations offer beer and wine, some have a full bar, and some offer local delivery.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX

Photo by Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy’s Tacos is open daily, at 7am weekdays and 8am Saturday and Sunday. Every Torchy’s Tacos location offers counter service: you order at the counter, find a table, and a staff member brings your food to you.

As I mentioned, this Torchy’s Tacos location reminds me of Chipotle. The order line is along the right wall, and the seating is a combination of tables and barstools along the windows on 2 sides. They also have an outdoor patio with both umbrellas and stand-up heaters so guests can use the tables year-round. But that is where the similarities end.

The Torchy’s Tacos menu is quite large, and offers a lot of variety. If you’re in the mood for breakfast, choose from one of 9 tacos. If lunch/dinner is more your thing, choose from one of 14 tacos. Some tacos come on a corn tortilla, others on flour, but you can mix and match. Other menu items include chips & dips, eats & treats, and sides. Torchy’s Tacos also has 6 sauces to choose from, ranging from roja (mild) to diablo (spicy). Most of the tacos come with one of the sauces, but you can get it on the side or switch to another sauce.

The challenge with a counter-service concept and a popular restaurant is finding an open table. The correct way to do it is to find a seat after you order. A family of 4 came in after us, and the father immediately sent his sons to grab a table from a family that was about to leave. Meanwhile, guests at the front of the line may have to wait for a table. I’ve seen some restaurants put up signs, due to inconsiderate people like that guy. Drives me nuts.

By the time we got through the line the only available inside seats were the barstools along the window. It made my photography more difficult because of the light angles, and I had very limited surface space to work with. That’s why I prefer to sit at a table whenever possible, but that’s what happens at 7pm on a Saturday night.

You also get this cool number hanger when you order. Other restaurants with a similar order concept use the single number holder; so if you’re with a group, you have to fan out the number cards. This makes much more sense.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Mary raved about the green chile queso

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Green chile queso, topped off with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro, and diablo hot sauce

Mary was right, the queso is fantastic. The combination of queso, guacamole and queso fresco creates a luxuriously rich dip. And it comes to the table warm, which is another huge plus. I’m a huge fan of house-made chips. They don’t play around with the quantity of chips, and these light, crispy and salty chips do not disappoint.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

I got a side of guacamole

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Oh my, I could not stop eating the guacamole. It is fresh and thick, and fabulous, and such a generous portion. The guacamole is spicier than I expected, and that caught me off guard. .

Mary also raved about the street corn

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Fresh roasted off-the-cob corn topped with ancho aioli, queso fresco, cilantro, and dusted with New Mexico chili powder

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

I was not a fan of the corn. I think I expected it to be temperature hot, and it was lukewarm at best. Apparently I didn’t mix it properly, so Mary did it for me, and I tasted it again. It was better, but still underwhelming to me. I’ll give it another chance though, because I love all of the flavors in the dish.

Mary got the Baja shrimp on corn tortillas

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Hand-battered fried shrimp with cooked cabbage slaw topped with pickled jalapenos & onions, queso fresco, cilantro & a wedge of lime. Served with chipotle sauce

I tried a bite, and it is delicious. I really like the combination of the pickled jalapenos and cabbage. It adds a wonderful tart bite to the scorching hot shrimp.

I got a Democrat and a Mr. Orange

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

DEMOCRAT: Shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a wedge of lime. Served with tomatillo sauce on a fresh corn tortilla. MR. ORANGE: blackened salmon topped with grilled corn and black bean relish, queso fresco and cilantro. Drizzled with avocado sauce then served with a lime wedge on a corn tortilla

The barbacao is amazing, and has such an intense flavor. The salmon is spicier than I expected, but the relish and avocado sauce provide a wonderful flavor and help to cool down the salmon. I ate the salmon as a whole taco. By the time I got to the barbacoa I was so full I only ate the insides.

Yes, we ordered way too much food, but it was for research. I asked one of the staff for a to-go container for my guacamole. He explained that that the to-go supplies are self-serve by the condiment station, and 2 minutes later brought me what I needed. He also brought a fresh bag of chips. Now that is customer service!

Of course I’m going back to Torchy’s Tacos. Yes, I’ll definitely go with Mary on my next visit to Austin, but there are also 12 locations in the Dallas-Ft Worth area. Even better, there is one in Norman OK, just 90 minutes from my house! Made my day when I saw that. Stillwater OK should definitely be next on the list, as it would do really well here.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin TX - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

For reviews of other restaurants in Austin TX, click on the photos below!

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