500 Tacos: Torchy’s Tacos | Round Rock

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Torchy’s Tacos | Round Rock
2150 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock (map), 512-381-0173, www.torchystacos.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Thu; 7am-11pm Fri; 8am-11pm Sat; 8am-10pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.19.15
Here’s something you won’t often see at a Torchy’s in Austin: a guy dressed head to toe in camouflage, ordering a Dirty Sanchez. Or a semi hauling a double-wide down the street out front. But this is Williamson County, and if it seems like things are turning a shade more red, it’s not just autumn. In honor of this month’s elections and the bubbling campaigns for next year’s presidential vote, this 11th report from the 12 Austin-area Torchy’s mixes politics with food, and we’ll all try to keep our lunches down.
Red plate: The Republican
In my day, all we had was sausage. The kind you barbecued with, the long ones, split down the middle with lots of fat and hala-peenos. We didn’t have any of those fancy tor-teeyas or pico de gal-oh. We just added a bunch of shredded cheese and ranch dressing with puh-blahnos and went on with our business. Did you see that we trimmed 18 percent off the cost of the Democrat taco? ($3.25)
Blue plate: The Democrat
Now let me be clear. Our great country wouldn’t be nearly as great without our great hardworking farmers and ranchers. The reason we’re wearing cowboy boots with our Hugo Boss today is to honor the great beef-cheek barbacoa that built our great taco. Yes, there’s a lot of fat. But studies show that fat is good for you. No, no. Great for you. And I stand here today to thank the great men and women who grow the onions and cilantro that give this great taco character and the great corn that goes into not one, but two great tortillas for every taco. Great. ($4)
Green plate: The Independent
The Statue of Liberty says give us your fried, your refried, your pickled carrot escabech-ee. The flour tortilla from a nearby store. Send these, the portobellos, batter-fried with cheese. I tilt my taco beside the golden corn. With avocado and ancho aioli for all. ($3.50)
November’s Taco of the Month: Turkey mole (yellow plate)
Turkey is about as galvanizing as an off-year bond election. Thing is, I like turkey. So fried turkey with Oaxacan mole holds the potential to get out the vote. And the mole is outstanding, a fall pantry of spices as sweet as a peanut patty. And the dressout — while it doesn’t fully support the $5.50 pricetag — makes this a square meal in a tortilla: tomato-rich Mexican rice, fresh avocado, queso fresco. But through it all, the turkey gets lost under its crunchy golden batter, smothered by salt and — like political gridlock — too many amendments. Thanks Obama. ($5.50)
 The Iowa caucuses: Courting the country’s No. 1 corn producer, Torchy’s can add street corn to its side-dish dynasty, a dynasty built on rice and beans, guacamole and powerhouse green chile queso. The corn itself is fresh, sweet and crunchy, mixed with spicy mayo and funky white cheese for that smells-bad-tastes-great alchemical disconnect we crave. ($3.95)
 Tortillas: A handmade tortilla is like the Bomb: Everybody wants it, only a few have it. The future of Torchy’s as a taco superpower balances on its outdated arsenal of storebought tortillas.
 Salsa: From the mild roja to the creamy avocado, from the chipotle ranch to the stinging Diablo, Torchy’s rainbow of salsas asks: Can’t we all just get along?
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
More Torchy’s in this series
► Round Rock  ► South First  ► Spicewood