Still no rest for the weary. After getting back from my Dayton Trip (which was right on the heels of my Chicago trip), it was time to repack the suitcase, grab my appetite and a fresh CF card, and head off to Austin.
In what’s becoming an annual tradition, several of us from TivoCommunity.com descended on the Austin area for several days dedicated to eating, both BBQ and Food Trucks (of which the greater Austin area has plenty of both).
Carol and I arrived a day before most of the attendees, which gave us an opportunity to start sampling food trucks a bit early. From the airport, we headed to South 1st Street in the SoCo (“South Congress”) and decided to indulge in Torchy’s Tacos.
Torchy’s is a regional taco chain (I’m not sure how far they’ve spread, but I’ve seen them in DFW as well) that specializes in slightly upscale tacos. They are definitely authentic Austin street food, since while this Torchy’s trailer isn’t the original trailer, it’s located in almost the original spot; the original Torchy’s Trailer was about a half mile down the road from here at 1st and Bouldin Creek. Starting with the fairly common “Food truck” business plan, Torchy’s started simple, making good food, and eventually growing into a small chain with several food trucks and brick-and-mortar location (indeed, we actually drove by two Torchy’s Tacos brick-and-mortar stores on our way to the cart).
The menu at Torchy’s is primarily tacos, with a few similar taco-related side dishes and entrees thrown in (like burritos). The tacos are the star, ranging from the fairly traditional (the carnitas taco with slow-simmered pork, queso fresco, and a tomatillo sauce) to some elaborate specials (like the Libertarian, with deep-fried sausage, peppers, onions, and several cheeses). After a few minutes looking over the menu, we settled on our first courses of this year’s Austin excess, Carol opting for the Trailer Trash Taco (although neglecting to select the “Trashy” option with more cheese in place of lettuce), and I went for the abovementioned Libertarian (although, as one friend mentioned, this should have been listed as “market price” instead of a fixed price…).
How were the tacos? Well, these were actually quite good. My Libertarian was a substantial taco, built upon a deep-fried jalapeno sausage. I’m not sure who supplies their sausage (there are more jalapeno sausage vendors in Austin than I could swing a stick at), but it was a nicely flavorful and zesty sausage, with good meaty notes, and a pleasant breading. Throw on some nicely fried onions, green peppers, and jalapenos, and a good slathering of three different cheeses, and this was a nice little taco. I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a fan of most non-traditional cheeses on tacos (I like a light dusting of queso blanco, usually), but here it worked pretty well, combining nicely with the sausage flavors.
Carol did well, too. She described the Trailer Trash (basically chicken with queso) as “You know those McDonalds Snack Wraps? This is what one of those would be like if someone who knew what they were doing made one.). Indeed, that’s what it remembled, and while twice the price of the McD’s item, this easily had four times the quality.
Overall, Torchy’s was a solid success for our first 2011 visit to an Austin trailer park. I’m looking forward to another trip to Torchy’s territory to see if I can try out more of their menu.