500 Tacos: Torchy’s Tacos | Burnet

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Torchy’s Tacos | Burnet
5119 Burnet Road, Austin (map), 512-382-0823, www.torchystacos.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Thu; 7am-11pm Fri; 8am-11pm Sat; 8am-10pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.12.15
With chicken-fried Warhols like the Trailer Park and the Jackson Pollock zig-zag of the Ace of Spades, Torchy’s is an exhibitionist. Even the buildings suffer from artistic tendencies. The shop on Burnet Road, for example, puts the exposed rafters and ductwork of the warehouse-modern movement on notice with a trash-compacted crown molding of industrial scrap to complement the stainless steelscape of tables and chairs. But today, in this sixth of 12 reports from Torchy’s Austin galleries, we celebrate Green Chile Pork, the Bob Ross of Torchy’s Tacos, the softspoken dude who paints with easy strokes and warm colors to create happy little treats.
Taco A: Green Chile Pork
Carnitas, cilantro and onions on corn tortillas. Tacos don’t get much simpler, or better, when they’re done right. Torchy’s respects the form with pork in long fibers and short shreds, roasted tender, with enough fat to stay juicy and pick up crispiness along the edges. There’s a background blush of green chile to put the pork in sharper relief, finished with shredded queso fresco. It’s not a modern art taco. More like a retro landscape above your cool neighbor’s couch. ($3.75)
Taco B: The Vagabond, June’s Taco of the Month
If green chile pork is a PBS paint by number, the Vagabond’s a multimedia collage, a collision of forms and elements that somehow gets the point across anyway. The base is beef fajita — a little woolly and overtenderized — layered with cutouts of thick, smoky bacon and swatches of grilled onion, dotted with pico de gallo. The flourishes pull it together: funky feta cheese and thick green chimichurri sauce with a deep herbal tone. ($5.50)
 Green Chile Queso: Torchy’s didn’t build the whole museum around melted cheese, but there’s an entire wing devoted to it. The base paint is good orange queso thick enough to stand a plastic fork. But it’s the mix that makes it: the flesh and roasted bits of green chile that inform every bite. Guacamole is like the artist’s signature. ($5.25 with chips)
 Tortillas: Reproductions of the originals at best: Commercial-grade toasted flour and doubled-up corn tortillas.
 Salsa: Of Torchy’s six-color salsa palette, tomatillo is the only color that suits the green chile pork, with a symbiotic flash of lime, bright tomatillo sweetness and some low chile pepper growl.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
More Torchy’s in this series
► Round Rock  ► South First  ► Spicewood