Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Torchy's Tacos

1207 S 1st St
Austin, TX‎
(512) 366-0537

520 West Ave
Austin, TX‎
(512) 789-2063

2809 S 1st St
Austin, TX
(512) 444-0300
UPDATE: Torchy's Little Woodrow's location on E 6th St has closed and been replaced by an extremely sub-par taco stand called Woody's. Do yourself a favor and do not attempt to eat from Woody's. Instead, pick up some Torchy's from one of their other locations on the way to Little Woodrow's.

After having picked up Leslie and Joel’s wedding invitations from Café Java, I tried to get in touch with them so that I would no longer be responsible for them anymore. Leslie’s been working crazy insane hours (damn film industry) and Joel’s been busy planning the wedding and looking for work (he just moved back from Florida to be with the love of his life, so if anyone has work for someone with a doctorate in Endocrinology, let me know and I’ll pass on the info.) So when Leslie didn’t answer the phone, I gave Joel a ring. He had business to take care of downtown, so he offered to meet me. We picked Little Woodrow’s as the location for the swap.

After finding change for the meter, I perched myself up on the patio at Woodrow’s with a beer and attempted to get some work done while waiting. Soon enough, Joel arrived and joined me. We opened the box of invites to discover that they were only partially assembled and required some more work. He looked vaguely disappointed, so I offered my services to help stuff the envelopes in exchange for another cold beer. We chatted as we stuffed the envelopes and when we were done, we moved outside to finish our drinks. At this point we were on #3 or #4.

The sun was setting, and the alcohol was taking effect. At this point, we had been hanging out for a few hours and my stomach was starting to rumble, so we did what any intoxicated person on the west side of Sixth Street would logically do. We hit up Torchy’s.

Torchy’s is a small trailer attached to (but not a part of) Little Woodrow’s on West Sixth Street. I know they have other locations but this is the only one I’ve been to. When I first discovered Torchy’s, it came off of a tip from an old neighbor. Since then, I’ve suggested it numerous times when substantially sized groups of people have been out drinking. Everybody can get something they want, the tacos are of excellent quality, and the food is fairly inexpensive so even the brokest of your friends can afford it. Plus, it doesn’t interfere with the beer drinking. You can have a seat inside Woodrow’s and they’ll bring it right to you.

The people working there are a little bit rockabilly and really nice. The selection of tacos have names like “The Republican” (jalapeno sausage, shredded cheese, pico de gallo in a flour tortilla with poblano ranch), “The Democrat” (Shredded beef barbacoa and onions topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro and a wedge of lime on corn tortilla with green sauce) and “Dirty Sanchez” (scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots and shredded cheese on flour tortilla with poblano ranch). They have all sorts of sauces – the green and poblano ranch I mentioned before, plus, diablo, tomatilla, roja and chipotle.

You can also order chips and salsa, guacamole or green chili queso. The chips are thin and just mildly greasy in that oh so bad but oh so good kind of way. The salsa and the guacamole are tasty, but avoid the green chili queso. It has an odd consistency that just makes you wish you didn’t go there. It claims to contain guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce, but the only ingredients I could decipher was some cheese-like substance, some splashes of hot sauce and a few flecks of cilantro.

This particular evening, Joel ordered The Republican, and I ordered the Fried Avocado Taco and the previously described queso. Although the queso fell flat, the chips remained enjoyable and my taco was a beautiful concoction of hand battered fried avocado, vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, pico and cheese on a corn tortilla that I smothered with poblano ranch. The mixture of avocado, beans and poblano ranch in my mouth was nothing but pure genius.

Joel raved about the sausage in his taco. For about 10 full minutes. I think he was feeling kindof worried about ordering something called “The Republican” and the implications that had on his character and felt the need to defend how delicious the sausage was. This led to a full blown political discussion that was followed by an assessment of the transitions in drunken Austin downtown street cuisine.

When we both arrived in Austin in the late 90’s we were heavily into the Roppolo’s pizza, but as our taste buds and the Austin scene matured, the choice became Torchy’s, hands down every time. I even ended up eating there on my birthday this year. And then had a phone malfunction that resulted in an accidental drunk dial to my grandma. Classy, I know. Hey – I only claimed that our taste buds had matured. I never said anything about the rest of us.

Bottom Line: Damn good tacos. It's hard to get a better meal for $3. Avoid the queso.

Laura - 9