Guest article by Jonatan Contreras
I’m new to Austin, and I was (quite unreasonably) excited to find out it has a pretty big Mexican food scene. Let me back up.
I’m from El Paso, Texas, land of the border culture. In El Paso, every time a new Mexican restaurant pops up, we tend to wonder “Another one?” Needless to say, I know my way around a taco. Which, ironically, was the reason I was excited to try out Austin staple Torchy’s Tacos. Word in town was, a flagship location had just opened on South Congress Avenue, where Fran’s Hamburgers used to be.
Torchy’s Tacos, you did not disappoint.
Welcome to Torchy’s Tacos Flagship on South Congress
The first Torchy’s opened in 2006, and now there are more than 30 stores across Texas. I decided to check out the new location at 1822 S. Congress Ave., but you can see all their Austin locations here.
The outside of the Torchy’s Tacos on South Congress is eye-grabbing. You may do a double-take and wonder whether you saw it in the opening scene of a cult film. You know, “the spot” where all the cool people hang out and the main character is meeting his girlfriend, but unbeknownst to him she is planning to break up with him, and thus begins the unfortunate series of events that define the plot?
This Torchy’s Tacos location has an outside area that is pet-friendly, and heaters so you won’t be deterred from sitting outside. I’d recommend you do choose the patio, at least if you love to people-watch as much as I do.
The parking seems tight, but that’s the case for most of South Congress. Regardless, I was able to find a spot within minutes.
As soon as I opened the door to Torchy’s, a wave of life hit me. It was refreshing. Being new to town, I tend to explore Austin alone. It’s great when restaurants and bars have a friendly, warm feeling as soon as you enter, so you won’t be discouraged from continuing your adventure.
Getting to Know the Tacos at Torchy’s
It was my turn to order, after a short wait (approximately five minutes, despite the inside being pretty full of guests). I ordered two beef fajita tacos with poblano sauce.
Torchy’s Tacos has a wide array of unique taco fusions. This is not your average taco place. With names like The Democrat (shredded beef barbacoa, avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions, lime on corn tortilla) and Dirty Sanchez (scrambled eggs, fried poblano chile, guacamole, escabeche carrots, shredded cheese on flour tortilla), you’ll want to get adventurous.
Of course, this is Austin, so they also serve breakfast tacos. Get queso on the side, as its considered some of the best queso in Austin.
Despite the diverse taco menu, the regular beef fajitas (marinated and grilled skirt steak, grilled onions and peppers, shredded cheese, pico de gallo) were my first choice. I’ll have you know that I am extremely adventurous, especially when it comes to food, but I also understand how important first impressions are. Sometimes it pays to be safe.
For drinks, you can expect the standard fountain drink of your choice. They gave me a number and I went outside to find a seat.
Final Assessment: Friendly and Delicious
After a wait of 10-15 minutes, the friendliest server I’ve ever met brought out my food. That was one of the allures of this city for me. I had always heard how friendly the people are in Austin, and it was especially enchanting for me because I’m a people-person. I like to talk to strangers, and get to know new people. Nonetheless, where I’m from, people want to be left alone, unless you have a reason to talk.
The beef fajita tacos were delicious. Although I went with something I considered “safe,” it didn’t disappoint. El señor Torchy will definitely be seeing me again, and with my taco-eating game face on, too.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite thing on the menu at Torchy’s?
The Independent!!!!! My husband I are vegans, so Torchys knows how to take care of us by switching out he aioli sauce with their awesome avocado sauce, elimantng the quest, and grilling the shrooms rather then frying. Deeeelicious!