By Clare Myers
Word of advice to any freshmen from out of state who have not yet realized it: Texans take their tacos seriously. Ask any native about his favorite Tex-Mex place and he will tell tales of tiny hole in the walls and shady dives. But the more well-known restaurants can also do justice to this versatile staple of Texas life.
Torchy’s Tacos is one of those. The Austin-based restaurant has brought a distinct brand of creativity to the taco scene, and now has locations throughout Texas, several of which are in Dallas.
After hearing the hype about Torchy’s for quite some time, I finally got the chance to head down to SMU to check it out.
The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor sections, separated by a walk-up counter that doubles as a full bar. The vibe is hipster-casual, with some college students lounging at tables under a wall decorated entirely with reflective squares and others sipping margaritas on the outdoor patio. The place was busy for a Tuesday night, and since only one person was working the register when we walked in, it took our large group a while to order one by one. But the wait was worth it.
The menu at Torchy’s is simple: tacos. There are breakfast tacos such as “The Wrangler” ($3.50) which features smoked beef brisket and jack cheese on scrambled eggs and potatoes, and a selection of simple breakfast tacos for $2.25 each. There are a few desserts, including dark chocolate brownies called “Love Puppies” ($2.50) and chips-and-dip combinations ($3.50-$5.25) to accompany the meal, but tacos are the main focus here, and with good reason.
Making a decision with so many delicious-sounding options was tough, but I chose “The Brushfire” ($3.75), a spicy bit of Tex-Mex heaven with Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapeños, mango, cilantro and the restaurant’s own “Diablo” hot sauce. Despite some serious heat from the Diablo sauce, the mango and cilantro combination evened it out. I tried a bite of a friend’s meal, a popular choice named “The Democrat” ($4), shredded beef barbacoa drenched in queso fresco and tomatillo sauce, topped with avocado, cilantro, onions and lime. The sharp cilantro brought out the dense flavor of the juicy beef, and I immediately understood its popularity. Another friend opted for the “Migas” ($2.75), a standard version of the dish but very good just the same.
I ordered a side of chips and salsa ($3.50) but due to some confusion with the large size of the group, it did not arrive until after we had finished our tacos. The chips were noticeably salty and the salsa roja was of better-than-average table salsa quality. A friend ordered chips with green chile queso ($5.25), which our group agreed was delicious.
Because customers order at the counter, there is not much interaction with the servers, but despite the relatively long time it took to order, the staff seemed competent and friendly. For a casual night out or to enjoy a few well-balanced, not-too-sweet house margaritas ($4.95), Torchy’s is an excellent choice.
Because really, it’s all about the tacos.
Nearest DART station: Mockingbird Station
Distance from UD: 13.7 miles
How to get there from UD: Take the Orange Line toward Parker Road or LBJ/Central for 12 stops. Get off at Mockingbird Station and turn left onto Worcola Street. Walk for 0.4 miles and turn right onto SMU Boulevard.