Torchy’s Tacos (Dallas – Forest Lane)

Torchy’s Tacos humble beginnings came from Michael Rypka who left his executive chef position, mortgaged his house, maxed out his credit card… all for the love of his Taco Dream. He soon found himself cooking up some tasty tacos in an airstream trailer and a red Vespa scooter (how Austin of him!) His first menu was more of a taste test and when any customer rejoiced, “damn, these tacos are good!” the tacos stayed on the menu. And thus, the”damn good” mantra stuck as the slogan. Their salsas are pretty “damn good” too… they’re 3 time Austin Chronicle salsa champions.

As far as the decor goes, this Torchy’s is more “rock ‘n roll” than its predecessors. I guess that’s how they “upgrade” their Keep Austin Weird style for the Keep Dallas Pretentious scene. The walls are red, the curtains are crushed black velvet, metal flames surround the wall and metal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The chandeliers even have roses atop… how Dallasly pretentious.  This sort of thing wouldn’t really hold up against the hippy Austinites but hey, we’re in the Big D now and… Who cares about the decor? We’ve got food to taco ‘ bout (har!).

On the Friday night we visited, Torchy’s was abuzz with Dallas W.A.S.P.s families. (Do the WASPs know that Torchy’s mascot is a little devil?  just kidding!) Their taco fillings aren’t anything groundbreaking but they are atypical of what you would get around here.

Their menu choices range from your typical tacos (chicken, beef, carnitas, etc.) to your tacos with fried fillings (shrimp, avocado!, and chicken) to standard breakfast tacos.  For a little taste of hell in your mouth, there’s 5 different levels of hot sauces. There’s also a kids menu for the little Lucifers including Top Chef Quickfire-esque dish: The Little Devil, peanut butter and banana quesadilla hand-battered on corn flakes a la strawberry jam. Oh, and its your choice of fresh flour vs. corn tortilla

Having been to Torchy’s in Austin several times I wasn’t sure how well the tacos would fare with their move up north to Dallas. This is my first visit to Torchy’s in Dallas. Keep in mind, I haven’t been to Torchy’s in over a year but they seem more generous with their meat this time around(not sure if this is true of all locations or just Dallas). I’ve tried all but three or four of their tacos before so I picked my top fours to order this time (see below).

OH, and I must mention that they serve Dublin Dr. Pepper… ON TAP!

The verdict: At the end of the night, the space sort of takes away from their streetstyle type food but if I close my eyes, their tacos are still pretty “damn good” and taste like the ones in Austin. They’re pretty generous with their tasty meats and sometimes a bit too generous with their fresh toppings (but honestly, that’s nothing a good finger-picking can’t fix).

C for Cuisine top tacos: Green chile pork

Anyways… less talk and more rock… on with the tasting:

  

Green Chile Queso & Chips ($4.95)
Homemade chips with green chile queso topped off with quacamole, queso fresco, cilantro & diablo sauce. Serves 2-3
Diablo sauce is the spiciest of all their salsas made of fire-roasted habanero chilies blended with vinegar, spices and tomatoes.
– Blended with diablo sauce, the spiciest Torchy’s salsa, it’s pretty mild in spiciness, since of course, it is a hot sauce mixed with cheese.
– The chips were thick and crunchy with bits of salt sprinkled on. 
– I was really disappointed in the amount of guacamole, it was served in a melon ball scoop and I really had to dish around for the guac.

  

 The Republican ($3.00)
Grilled jalapeño sausage, shredded cheese and pico de gallo
Alright, I don’t understand the link between The Republican and the characteristic of the taco so if someone figures it out, please let me know!
Served with poblano sauce (creamy ranch, blended with serranos and grilled poblano peppers, spicy level: 3 of 5)
– The sausage itself is pretty spicy and served butterflied but it didn’t have the nice snap from the casing.
– There were small visible bits of jalapeño in the sausage.
– The pico is chunky and sweet and may be a bit too generous in portion and too chunky for others, but I like it. The large amount of pico mellows out the spicy sausage.

 

The Democrat ($3.75)
Shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions & a wedge of lime. Served with tomatillo sauce
– Entirely too much topping, although I do like the large chunk of avocado because I’m an avocado aficionado.
– The barbacoa is tasty and peppery, not too fatty but you can tell that there’s bits of fat that adds flavor to the meat.
– I don’t care much for the texture: it’s more of a barbacoa mush than a shred.
– This use to be one of my favorite tacos, but it’s not anymore. It’s always been prepared the same, but my tastes have changed and I can’t appreciate its mushy texture.

Crossroads ($4.00)
Smoked beef brisket with grilled onions, jalapenos, cilantro, jack cheese and slice of avocado
– The brisket is tender, smokey and nicely cooked. I got a couple pieces burnt ends, my favorite bit of meat.
– With the onions, jalapenos, cilantro, cheese, and avocado… there’s way too many and too much toppings that drown out the tasty brisket.

 

 

 

 

Green Chile Pork ($3.25)
{C for Cuisine’s favorite Torchy taco}
Slow-roasted pork carnitas simmered with green chilies and topped with queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a wedge of lime
Carnitas is well-seasoned, moist and pull apart tender
–  The cilantro and onions, although heavy-handed, brighten the taste of the taco
– The sprinkling of queso blanco adds tasty bits of saltiness to the taco.

 

 

  

C for Cuisine visit: February 26, 2011
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