Torchy’s Tacos

1311 S 1st StAustin, TX 78704 • 512) 366-0537 • torchystacos.com

Can 1458 Yelpers be wrong? Yes. Yes they can. Granted this local legend has multiple locations around Austin, so this is only an indictment of the one in the trailer, located at the address above. That said I have a hard time believing the food varies drastically from spot to spot based on the consistent, glowing reviews, so take this as you will…

Sadly, beyond the queso I can’t really say I was impressed. So let’s start there, since it was the only highlight of the meal. Thick and creamy and spicy, it blows away that watery qurap they serve over at Kerby Lane. This is stick-to-ribs perfection.

But in terms of the breakfast tacos, which was the whole reason we came, I was nonplussed. I can make better at home. Shit, my eight year old son can make better. No, seriously! Both the Migas and the Wrangler left me scratching my head, and not just because of the dandruff. They weren’t super spicy, or super flavorful or well-balanced or anything even remotely worth mentioning, despite decent attempts to load them up with interesting ingredients like pico de gallo, green chiles, smoked brisket and huevos, naturally. But try as they may, I still walked away muy disappointed.

The Ultimate Guacamole

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When it comes to great guac, I have to admit I’m a bit of a priss. Okay, so I’m prissy in general as a rule, but only as it pertains to good food. As for the complexity or simplicity, I whole-heartedly appreciate both. But when it comes to guac, I have to say I kinda prefer the fuss. No simple old mashed up avocado will do for this cat, oh no, no, no. You gotta earn my lovin’ with a little magic in your mush. Below are three of my favorite magicians.

The Ninth Door – Denver, CO

This is the most inventive guac of the three, and more inventive than any I’ve ever seen before or since. It starts with an avocado cut in half, then they flash fry it with a little panko and fill the divot where the pit use to be with pico de gallo. The end result is so unforgettable you’ll hear Natalie Cole singing in your ears while your mouth and your eyes are still busy recovering from the rapture.

ABC Cocina – NY

Jean Georges always seems to find a way to take the basics and turn them into brilliance. From caprese salad to foie gras terrine to guac he really knows how to make you feel like you’re tasting something again for the first time. The dial here is a simple one, however, simply adding sunflower seeds to the green stuff and serving it up along side a wonderful grapefruit salsa and oversized, fresh-baked chips.

Rosa Mexicano – New York, NY

For the purists, I offer up the remarkably fresh, table-side prepared guac at Rosa. I’ve been to hordes of other places that try to do the same, but somehow it always pales by comparison. I’m not sure how or why, but whatever they’re doing, they manage to pull it off at every location too. Also, one of the things I love most about it is that they customize the heat. You like spicy, they throw in more jalapenos. You like crazy spicy, just ask for habaneros. That’s what I do and it’s guac-a-holy-mole!

No. 7 Sub

1188 Broadway New York, NY 10001(212) 532-1680 • no7sub.com

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Okay, I’ve been here about 100 times without exaggeration, so suffice it to say that I kind of like it. But to be fair, it can be very hit and miss, so here is a little guidance to help you weed out the winners from the losers…

Décor is virtually non-existent  as the place is pretty much just a counter. Service is also relatively minimal as a result. So it’s basically a grab and go dynamic. That said, the sandwiches really are something special. Such unusual combinations and creative uses of ingredients abound, like the lamb meatloaf with strawberry pico de gallo and curry, the bologna, which is very good- but insanely thick and hearty. The brussel sprouts with granny smith apples, which is nice in the summer. The broccoli, which some people swear by, but I find to be just okay. The chicken guac- which tastes like a lot like a chicken burrito in sandwich form. And, a veggie burger that tastes like a dead ringer for a Big Mac.  But while the place is capable of incredible culinary wizardry, they unfortunately mix in enough duds to make you want to cling to the tried and true, for example the eggplant parm (now a zucchini parm), voted by New York Magazine as one of the top 100 sammy’s in the city and it is truly all of that and a bag of chips. In fact, those chips make it onto the sandwich itself and that sandwich quite handily makes it makes it onto my own personal Top 20! Best eggplant parm sub I have ever had. Granted, an unusual take on the classic, so traditionalists beware. This baby has pickled jalapeños and barbeque potato chips in it. Yes, you heard correct. Chips on an egg parm. Crazy, but man does it work!

Apart from that, there has only been one other sub to reach epic status like the parm, the roast beef with garlic and mint – quite possibly roast beef’s highest achievement on this Earth.

Some sides of note would be the spicy muchim pickles and the pineapple gazpacho. Skip the moon cookies. All in all, so close to 4 knives for me, and if you stick to the winners it would easily be that, but because they are woefully inconsistent over time, I gotsta go three. “And that’s all I have to say about that.” -Forest Gump

3 teeth