500 Tacos: Torchy’s Tacos | UT

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Torchy’s Tacos | UT
2801 Guadalupe St., Austin (map), 512-494-8226, www.torchystacos.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Thu; 7am-11pm Fri; 8am-11pm Sat; 8am-10pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.25.15
Like the disclaimers they made you sign at campy old shocker movies like “The Tingler,” an EMS truck pulled into the Torchy’s lot as I took on all four tacos in Torchy’s “Some Like It Hot” series, available only through the end of August. Torchy’s flirts with the line between novelty and necessity all the time, but I despise stunt food. We owe better consideration to ourselves and to the plants and animals that go into what we eat. And loading up tacos with ghost peppers and habaneros and chiles manzano so we can throw #torturebytaco hashtags on our social media has all the hallmarks of a marketing stunt. But I resolved to hit all 12 Austin-area Torchy’s for this series, including every Taco of the Month, and a promise is a promise. The EMS guys have already left. Wish me luck.
Taco of the Month A: The Barn Burner
Chile manzano smoked my eyelids the first time it attacked me at El Naranjo. The same general shape, color and texture as a yellow bell pepper, it’s the bait-and-catch-fire of the pepper world, and you’ll find it all over this taco. But it somehow finds detente with sturdy grilled beef fajitas, fatty bacon and cool, tangy goat cheese. The avocado salsa’s a nice touch of green; the Diablo’s just overkill painted orange. ($5.50)
Taco of the Month B: Bottle Rocket Shrimp
Remember the scene in “Amadeus” where the guy told Mozart there were too many notes? Torchy’s plays the powdery wigged madman most of the time. But this taco has just enough notes. Habanero battered shrimp that doesn’t commit battery, cabbage to keep it cool and crisp, candied jalapeño for sweet heat, cotija cheese to bring the harmonies together. ($5.50)
Taco of the Month C: The Creeper
This is the one with too many notes. Fried chicken that’s overwhelmed by its angry brown habanero batter. Dissonance created by pickled jalapeños and pickled red onions that keep stepping on each other’s solos. Bacon and chorizo blowing like a chorus of bassoons. And finally, a drizzle of sauce made from one of the planet’s hottest chiles — the ghost pepper — to make it all feel like a stinging requiem. ($5.50)
Tac* *f the M*nth D: The Scalding Pig
T*day I learned that y*u d*n’t t*uch y*ur face — anywhere — after y*u t*uch the Scalding Pig, because y*u will l*se the ability t* f*rm the letter “*.” T*rchy’s tender stewed p*rk — used to such great effect in T*rchy’s green chile p*rk tac* — can’t regulate the fires set by gh*st pepper and chile pasilla. Especially with jalapeñ* escabeche fanning the flames. What d*es this taste like? I’ll get back t* y*u when I can feel my t*ngue again. Why did I sign that disclaimer? ($5.50)
 Some Like It Not: Not in the mood for Man v. Food? Get something Torchy’s does well and charges half as much for: The No. 1 breakfast taco. Just a tortilla spilling over with freshly scrambled eggs, crispy bits of thick, salty bacon and melted cheddar. If you’re feeling wildish, add mildish salsa roja. ($2.25)
 Tortillas: Torchy’s routinely fails in the one place where it needs to be over-the-top: proper tortillas. These commercial-grade waxy flour tortillas add nothing but a handle.
 Salsa: Any of T*rchy’s six salsas w*uld be a c**l down fr*m this debilitating burn.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
More Torchy’s in this series
► Round Rock  ► South First  ► Spicewood