Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Torchy's Light Dimmed By Expansion. But Only by a Bit.
I've debated posting a Torchy's review for the last few months. In that time, it's gone from hipster trailer park South First fare to explosively fast suburban-strip-mall expansion. Torchy's still slings dynamite tacos, but ultra-hip plays a little flat when it's next to a Panda Express in a brand new limestone strip mall at the corner of Mopac and William Canon, however many tattoos the cashier has.
The concept of Torchy's is pretty straightforward - a whole stack of pre-designed somewhat adventurous tacos using fresh stuff and really good tortillas. Tack on chips, salsa, queso, and guacamole (all excellent), and that's about it. My personal favorite is the Democrat - shredded barbacoa beef, avocado, lime, cilantro and queso fresco. The barbacoa is oozing with a rich, slightly sharp flavor (these are best when they go light on the meat). The sharp edges are highlighted by the lime, mellowed by the avocado and cheese and freshened up by the cilantro. Throw in a couple of super-soft fresh corn tortillas and you're in business.
The other real standout for me is the salsa. The chips are nothing special, but I could eat this salsa with a spoon. Mild but not without kick, it's got a bunch of different peppers playing around in there, and a good bit of lime. Completely awesome.
Breakfast tacos are good, but you can only go so far in a town that also sports Maria's Taco Xpress. By the Maria's standard, these don't quite meet the bar - not quite as fresh, potatoes not quite as well integrated. The Ranch Hand mixes the egg and the barbacoa, and isn't half-bad.
It remains to be seen how this place will do in its newfound expansion. My impression so far is that the quality at the new locations doesn't quite match up to the original trailer, and that they might be trying just a little to hard to look like downtown and not hard enough to taste like it. Still, this is a great place, and I'm selfishly happy that they've staked out ground in my neck of the woods, even at the cost of a little brand dilution.