Torchy’s Tacos: Listen to Lucifer and Visit Taqueria Trailer

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Torchy is the little devil on all of our shoulders, telling us to eat more tacos.

Los Angeles is loaded with food trucks, but most have a Mexican slant. Austin has a much wider range, with trucks selling Hawaiian shaved ice, cupcakes, pizza, crepes, and Torchy’s Tacos. Michael Rypka’s Tex-Mex spot was featured in this month’s Food & Wine, in an article devoted to the nation’s best food trucks, and I won’t argue with the assessment. Listen to Lucifer: Torchy’s tacos are “damn good!”

Food Truck Austin

Since 2006, Rypka’s gleaming silver trailer has parked in a shady gravel lot above a creek, sandwiched between the Texas School of the Deaf and a shop that sells soy candles. Torchy’s is incredibly popular, even with two other nearby locations, and I was unable to score a seat in the shade.

Taco Austin

I ordered a Trailer Park taco, with fried chicken and Poblano ranch dressing, but quickly switched to the Brushfire ($3.50) – crusty nubs of spicy Jamaican jerk chicken tossed with grilled jalapeños, sweet diced mango, cilantro, and a squiggle of sour cream. The accompanying container of diablo sauce combined fire roasted habanero chilies, vinegar, spices and tomato. I also scored a container of Roja – fire roasted roma tomatoes, chilies, grilled onions, garlic, cilantro and lime.

Taco Austin

The Green Chili Pork Taco ($3) involved luscious slow roasted pork carnitas simmered with green chilies and topped with queso fresco, cilantro and onions, served on a corn tortilla with green sauce. I also got Tomatillo – a blend of 3 fire-roasted chilies, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro and lime. The pork could have been a little crustier, but the meat’s flavor and moisture were undeniable.

Taco Austin

Baja shrimp tacos are everywhere in Los Angeles, so for my third selection, I ordered The Republican ($3), four ounces of grilled jalapeño sausage with finely shredded cheese and chunky pico de gallo in a flour tortilla with poblano ranch. Poblano is creamy ranch dressing blended with serranos and grilled poblano peppers. In the interest of equal airtime, Torchy’s also serves The Democrat, with shredded beef barbacoa and green sauce.

No matter what you order, start or finish with a Little Nookie (3 for $2.95), deep-fried, cornflake crusted chocolate chip cookies, served with a maraschino cherry.

There are some terrific taco trucks in Los Angeles, but none are as imaginative as Torchy’s. More importantly: none sell deep fried chocolate chip cookies. Michael Rypka is clearly putting his 20 years of restaurant experience to good use.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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