Torchy’s Tacos takes Tex-Mex to new level in Austin

One of the first things you discover about Austin, Texas is the great variety of food available in the city. There are plenty of fine dining establishments with the best amenities and cuisine to be found anywhere. But you’re likely to find the longest lines and most loyal customers at many food trailers parked around town.

Folks lining up for Torchy's tacos

Dozens of entrepreneurs have put a Southern spin on “grab and go” food in this eclectic city, but that doesn’t mean it’s tasteless or drenched in ketchup. When you come to Torchy’s Tacos be prepared to sample savory offerings served from the portable kitchens.

Despite the popularity of Tex-Mex in sit-down, cloth-napkin, margarita-mixing eateries featuring the same basic menu items, Torchy’s is one of the fastest growing restaurants in town. Almost any time you stop by, there’s a line of people waiting for the spicy goodness tucked inside each tortilla.

The original Torchy’s opened in 2006 with Mike Rypka  at the helm. Along with his partner, Rypka wanted to provide casual, inexpensive, and delicious food. In just five years Torchy’s has grown into a string of ten restaurants scattered around Austin–with plans to expand to Houston and beyond.

Torchy's Tacos in Austin, Texas is a popular lunch spot

Rypka, previously an executive chef, took the familiar chicken and beef fillings a step beyond typical. Here’s a sample of his special creations (order two if you have a big appetite):

  • Crossroads—smoked beef brisket with grilled onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and avocado served with a tomatillo sauce or fresh corn tortilla, $4.00
  • Trailer park—fried chicken, green chilies, lettuce, pico de gallo, and cheese on a flour tortilla, $3.25
  • Brush Fire—Jamaican chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream and cilantro served with Diablo sauce on a flour tortilla, $3.75
  • Green chile pork—slow roasted pork carnitas simmered with green chiles and topped with queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and wedge of line served with tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla, $3.25
  • Naughty Santa—December’s featured taco: grilled shrimp and chorizo with pickled onions, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeno jack cheese served on a flour tortilla with Poblano ranch sauce, $4.50
  • Fried Avocado (vegetarian), the Republican, the Democrat (Austin’s the state capital), burrito grande, chips and salsa, queso, or guacamole

Al fresco dining at Torchy's in Austin

For dessert try a $2.25 Love Puppy—dark chocolate brownie with creamy peanut butter or mint—or a couple of Little Nookies—deep fried chocolate chip cookies with powdered sugar and cherries, three for $2.95.

Sunshine 300 days a year means al fresco dining rarely gets preempted in Austin. Outdoor seating around Torchy’s Tacos may be covered by umbrellas, especially welcome during the hot summer months. Open at 7:00 a.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. on weekends, Torchy’s serves up plenty of breakfast tacos and migas for eager customers. Or get your late night fix (10:00 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday, 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). Check locations or order food online at http://torchystacos.com

Photos by Beverly Burmeier

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