The Austin Chronicle

Restaurant Review

Reviewed by Barbara Chisholm, August 15, 2008, Food

Torchy's Tacos

2809 S. First, 444-0300,
Monday-Thursday, 7am-10pm; Friday, 7am-11pm; Saturday, 8am-11pm; Sunday, 8am-10pm

In a city awash with tacos, it can be hard to determine why another taco joint is needed or even wanted. How different can the tacos at these scores of places be? I mean, we're talkin' eggs, potatoes, beans, cheese, and chorizo or bacon in various combinations all rolled up in a tortilla, right? But devotees of tacos, especially breakfast tacos, will defend their preferred proprietor with the passion of newly baptized Baptists. And we encourage and salute these loyalists. Among our favorites is Torchy's, whose newest location is now housed in a real structure with a ceiling, doors, and everything. (It's the former home of the revered Virginia's Cafe, to be exact.) This cafe doesn't stray much from Torchy's trailer roots, and the tacos remain the same: big fistfuls of taste. Breakfast tacos are available all day long, but the menu really excels when it flexes its culinary muscle in such offerings as the Baja Shrimp Taco, a shellfish take on the fish taco with superbly fresh crustaceans fried without a hint of grease and capped with Torchy's take on the traditional cabbage slaw toppings ($4). The succulent Green Chili Pork Taco ($3) oozes with the savory goodness of pork slow-cooked with chiles and wrapped up in two corn tortillas (it takes two to stand up to the rich filling). The queso fresco, cilantro, onions, and lime provide a tangy counterpoint to the rich meat filling. The crowds amassing in the small cafe at all times of the day attest to the loyal following Torchy's has developed. We don't suggest you abandon your favorite taco haunt, but we do urge you to expand your taco repertoire to include this South Austin stop. And in doing so, you'll be confirming the cherished belief that a town cannot have too many good taco joints.

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