★★★ (out of four)
Some days I feel pretty darn worthless. When I’m feeling worthless, I go to Torchy’s Tacos™.
That last part—that should be the official Torchy’s Tacos slogan. Instead their slogan is “Damn Good™.” It’s “damn”, of course, because Torchy’s whole thing is that they’re sinful. They love that. They love being sinful.
Their logo is a little devil-cherub with a pitchfork and horns and everything. He’s red. He’s got a wicked little baby face.
So maybe “When I’m feeling worthless, I go to Torchy’s Tacos” isn’t the best slogan. Still, I can’t think of single a time I’ve been to Torchy’s when I didn’t feel downright rotten. Their tacos make me feel happy again. That’s actually kind of depressing, but it’s also the truth.
It’s also a hell of a testimony, if you ask me.
• • •
The only store I ever go to is off Guadalupe St., here in beautiful Austin, Texas. It’s a pretty small place. They have food trailers/taco trucks, too, so maybe I shouldn’t complain about the size. Still, there’s never a place to sit in the damn place. If I had to guess, there are maybe six tables—and three or four of those seat two people at most. Those are always taken up by couples or guys talking about computers. It drives me nuts.
The interior is red. It’s fiery and nice. There are clippings from newspapers on the walls which explain, quite boldly, that Torchy’s Tacos is a well-loved establishment where a lot of people have eaten. They’ve won all kinds of awards. They deserve those awards, though. It’s okay if they boast.
• • •
Yes, and having eaten at Torchy’s Tacos a half-dozen times since I moved to Austin, I can tell you that they’ve got a fine thing going for them. As I do not eat meat, I can only comment on two things they have on their menu, which makes this is a piss-poor review. I don’t care. I love Torchy’s Tacos, and I’m going to review them anyway.
I usually get the fried avocado taco. I get two of them. At $3.25 a taco, Torchy’s isn’t the most affordable place in town. For God’s sake, what a mark-up! It comes with (vegetarian) refried beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo and two fried avocados. The avocados are choice, if I may say so. (God, “choice”—did I really just say that?) I don’t know what they bread these things in, but they’re practically decadent. They’re brown, anyway, on account of their being fried. That’s OK with me. They give you this sort of spicy ranch dressing to dump all over the thing, and make sure you do that, because it’s almost necessary. Now, I’m not suggesting that the fried avocado taco doesn’t have legs of its own to stand on, but that sauce really hits the spot.
And for God’s sake, insist on a flour tortilla. They’ll ask you that at the register: “Corn or flour tortilla?” It’s usually some dude with a great haircut. Just say to him, “Brother, I’ll take flour,” and they’ll really take care of you.
Get two tacos. Pay the extra $3.25 to double the size of your meal. One taco will not be enough to satisfy even the smallest stomach. Though yeah, they really pack those things. But two—two makes it a full meal.
If you want your meal to be under $10, ask for a water cup. Don’t bother with fountain drinks. You shouldn’t be drinking all that sugar, anyway. Water is probably a better taco companion anyway. Can you imagine washing down a fried avocado taco with, say, a Dr. Pepper? Good God, no. That would make me feel pretty rotten about myself and my place in the world.
And hey, they also have burritos. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these things. See, you can specify what you want on the burrito. That’s pretty standard. They give you a bunch of choices, and most of them are delicious as hell. They’re . . . scrumptious, even, which makes me nervous to say. (Why is my word choice so suspect—even to me?) But see, they don’t give you a non-meat option. I suppose you could say, “Just leave the meat out.” But what good is that going to do you? The guy behind the counter with the terrific haircut might scoff a little. (Maybe that’s not true—the employees tend to be friendly and laid-back. Even still.) Look: Even if you do eat meat, do yourself a favor and ask if you can replace meat with a bunch of fried avocados.
This idea came to me one day and I’ve never regretted it. When you do it, act like the idea just popped into your brain. Throw them a curve ball. Say something to the effect of, “Aha! May I replace meat with some fried avocados?” Don’t mention a specific number of fried avocados or they’ll probably think you’ve premeditated this (admittedly) genius move. The guy behind the counter, after stroking his gorgeous hair, will likely seem a little surprised. He’ll say, “Um, yeah! We can definitely do that, sure.”
“Great! Let’s do that, then.” (Say that.)
And then you just eat the damn thing.
• • •
When do normal people eat lunch? Noon? One? I don’t know. I eat lunch at three or four in the afternoon. See, I don’t operate during normal human being hours. I stay up late and wake up late. What I’m trying to say is eat when I do. That way you’ll avoid the usual crowd, which consists almost entirely of degenerate youths. Around lunchtime this place is crawling with undergraduate neanderthals and their girlfriends. Is that a mean thing to say? I don’t know. It’s the truth. These guys are real mouth-breathers, believe me.
Don’t eat when they eat. And if you do, for God’s sake, don’t look at them when they eat. You’ll lose your lunch, for sure.
That place gets pretty crowded. And as I mentioned, there’s no God damn place to sit. You’ll be forced to, I don’t know, sit outside or something. The thought of sitting outside Torchy’s Tacos literally makes my stomach turn. You’ll be forced to stare at a barbershop and a Whataburger and a busy road. Don’t do that to yourself.
• • •
Torchy’s Tacos is a pretty all right place. It’s great, even. Go eat there. Get two tacos. Get a water cup. If you’re feeling ballsy, get that custom-made fried avocado burrito. Or just eat whatever is on the rest of the menu, which my meat-eating friends tell me is wonderful. Get the “Trailer Park”. Everyone always orders that thing.
And if you see me sitting alone, sit down across the table from me. Lord knows I could use the company.