Dining with Dave… Torchy’s Tacos in Austin

Tacos…There might not be a better food in the world.

Take a tortilla, itself a gift from the gods, hold it in your hand, fill it, decorate it and add a little hot sauce.  It’s the perfect snack, or if you are walking the streets of Mexico City or Guadalajara late at night, a great evening meal.  As in keep filling my plate until I tell you to stop.

One of my greatest taco stand nights was years ago at a little puesto in Tonalá, Jalisco, just outside of Guadalajara.  I was there with my son and a couple of other friends.  Admittedly the tacos were small, but that night at El Flakito’s Tacos the four of us wolfed down 32 tacos.

Recently I was in Austin, Texas.  Austin is one of those places where if you love food, you have just got to go.  It is also home to Torchy’s Tacos, an Austin tradition since 2006.

Before I go on, let me stipulate a few things.  First, I am not a taco snob.  I grew up eating what I’ve come to learn was the standard American taco.  Hard shell, ground beef, lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese, all wrapped in yellow waxed paper.  Back then the local place by my house sold them 5 for a dollar.  They were heaven sent and delicious.  Even today, I love to get the two tacos for a dollar deal at Jack in the Box.

I also have few rules about what you can put on a tortilla and still call it a taco.  Ground beef?  Sure.  Pork?  Of course.  Fish?  You bet.  Basically, if you can fit it on a tortilla and still fold or roll it, it’s a taco.

The Democrat

Now Torchy’s serves up a pretty eclectic menu with a bunch of trendy hip names.  Political?  Try the Democrat, a wonderful combination of shredded beef barbacoa that comes with avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a great tomatillo sauce all on a corn tortilla.

The Republican

Too left for you?  Order up The Republican.  Grilled jalapeño sausage, shredded cheese, pico de gallo and a poblano salsa.  This one is served on a warm flour tortilla.

But maybe you are looking for something more vegetarian… go for The Independent, a portobello based cacophony of flavors all topped off with an ancho aioli sauce on a flour tortilla.

The Migas

Don’t want lunch?  Get a breakfast taco loaded with eggs and other goodies. One of my favorites is the Migas, but you can’t go wrong with the Wrangler either, a delightful mixture of eggs, potatoes, smoked brisket and cheese all served on flour tortilla.  It’s pure Texas in the marriage of brisket and Mexican flavors!

The bottom line is this.  You’ll never be able to go just once.  You’ll find yourself returning again and again as you work through their menu and experience all the wonderful salsas that accompany each and every taco.

Is the food at Torchy’s classically Mexican?  Of course not.  Is it delicious?  You bet.  Should you go?  Of course… because Torchy’s has some damn good tacos!

Torchy’s Tacos in Austin, various locations

Cost: about $8.00 per person… includes two tacos and a refillable soda

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