500 Tacos: Torchy’s Tacos | Anderson Mill

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Torchy’s Tacos | Anderson Mill
11521 RR 620 N., Austin (map), 512-381-8226, www.torchystacos.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Thu; 7am-11pm Fri; 8am-11pm Sat; 8am-10pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.15.15
The fifth installment of this 12-part ... dodecadilogy? ... covering every Austin-area Torchy’s Tacos takes us northwest, to a more sedate part of town that could use a little inner-Austin over-the-topness. And it doesn’t get much more over the top than the Ace of Spades.
Taco A: The Ace of Spades from the Secret Menu
How stoned was the genius who came up with this monster from the not-so-secret Secret Menu? Just stoned enough, as it turns out. Built on an extended-play 8-inch flour tortilla, it’s a fridge-cleaning collective: a long link of spicy smoked sausage cut in half lengthwise, layered with a fried egg, chopped brisket, cotija cheese, a jack-and-cheddar mix, a crisscross of Diablo sauce and sour cream and — in a moment of true bloodshot inspiration — Torchy’s stellar green chile queso. The brisket and sausage are Austin pit BBQ quality, and even if this taco looks sloppy on the blueprint, it’s executed with precision. Best enjoyed with a little Motörhead, turned up to 11. ($5.50)
Taco B: The Washingtonian, May’s Taco of the Month
The Washingtonian breaks down to a carnitas taco with barbecue sauce and pickles, a nod to BBQ culture the same way January’s Tuk-Tuk evoked pan-Asian taco fusion in the spirit of the Peached Tortilla’s banh mi taco. As a straight-up carnitas taco, the Washingtonian is a top-tier effort, tender and blushing with a little bark for texture. As a barbecue taco, though, the W draws color but no abiding flavor from the smoke, and a dress of pickles, grilled onions and barbecue sauce gives it a tourist’s flourish at best, nowhere near the character of places like Valentina’s or Schmidt Family Barbecue. And I try not to ring the price bell too often. But ... ding. At $5.50, the Washingtonian can’t touch Torchy’s much better Green Chile Pork, a 32 percent less expensive indulgence at $3.75.
Taco C: Fried avocado
One of Torchy’s simplest pleasures, this taco is a celebration of texture: warm and velvety refried beans and fried breading that’s hot and spiky and crunchy — everything you want in a batter, plus a cool and creamy avocado center. It’s finished with lettuce, tomato and blended cheeses, ready for a crowning touch of tangy poblano ranch. ($3.75)
 Tortillas: The storebought flour and doubled-up yellow corn tortillas are the same shape as a broken record, stuck on the part that says, “You can do better... you can do better... you can do better.”
 Salsa: The Washingtonian’s built around barbecue sauce, and the Ace of Spades has its own thing going on. So today we focus on Torchy’s poblano ranch, the mild and creamy player tailored to the fried avocado taco. Yes, it’s a dipping-sauce ranch straight from the kids’-table playbook, but like all things Torchy’s, the adults got ahold of it and added serrano and poblano peppers. Still safe for kids, it glimmers with seeds and flesh for a bite emphasizing flavor over fire.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
More Torchy’s in this series
► Round Rock  ► South First  ► Spicewood