Torchy’s Tacos lands on ‘11 absolute best taco shops’ online list

 

Austin’s taco scene has again put the city in the national spotlight, this time in a list of Tasting Table’s “11 All-Time Favorite Taco Shops in America.”

Tina Phan/American-Statesman. 10.4.13. Statesman restaurant critic and reporter reviews several Austin Eats vendors during the first weekend of ACL on Friday, October 4, 2013. Trailer Park taco (fried chicken, green chiles, pico de gallo, lettuce, tomato, cheese), $5, from Torchy’s Tacos.

Torchy’s Tacos made Tasting Table’s list, coming in at No. 10 out of 11, beating out Salvation Taco in New York City. Curiously, Torchy’s was the only Texas spot to make the list, while two New York spots, three California restaurants and even a Massachusetts taco shop also made the list. (Calamari and beets on tacos? Um, OK.)

More: Austin airport travelers ate 693,375 breakfast tacos in 2015

“This famous spot is known for its unique flavor combinations like green chile pork and fresh ingredients like avocado salsa,” Tasting Table raves. “The best part? Breakfast is served all day, so you can have Austin’s favorite egg tacos no matter when the craving hits.”

More: This Austinite is bringing ‘Austin-style’ tacos to New Yorkers

No disrespect to Torchy’s (It’s been put on taco “best-of” lists before, and President Obama even ate there once), but if any list is going to highlight the best tacos in Austin, it should also include places like Maria’s, Guero’s Taco Bar, Veracruz Tacos, Taco Joint or La Fantabulous.

More: Take a taco tour around Austin

At any rate, any exposure to Austin’s taco scene is good, especially considering the Great Breakfast Taco War between Austin and San Antonio.

 

Austin and America’s top dog names of 2016 reflect the year’s pop culture trends

If this year’s top dog names from Austin and the rest of the country are are any indication, it looks like the news and pop culture events of 2016 have spread to the monikers we give our pets.

 

Debbie Duncans dog, Austin, enjoys the pool in Rosewood Park in celebration of 8th Annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day on October 23, 2016. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Debbie Duncans dog, Austin, enjoys the pool in Rosewood Park in celebration of 8th Annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day on October 23, 2016. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

According to Rover.com, a blog that compiles data on dog breeds, dog names and other pet stories, Americans liked to name their pets in 2016 after politicians, pop culture figures, fictional characters, alcoholic drinks and Pokemon.

As for the city of Austin, the top dog name for males was Max, while the top female name was Bella. But other, more Austin-centric names were on the rise, like Brisket, Pickle and Taco, which saw a 13 percent uptick in 2016.

And as Austin’s tech industry grows, so does the number of technically-named pooches in the city: Names like Mac, Pixel and Tesla were up 3 percent. So-called “hipster” names like Mason, Bowtie, Brewery (seriously?) and Sushi were reportedly on the rise, though there were no numbers available to back that up. Surprisingly, “Willie” and “Nelson” weren’t anywhere in the Austin rankings.

From Rover.
From Rover.

But the more fascinating data comes from Rover’s compilation of national trending dog names, which mirrored America’s pop culture fascinations and political hopes during 2016.

Bella and Max won nationally, as they did in Austin, but dogs named for video game and fantasy TV characters were especially popular among the nation in general and Millennials in specific.

Pet names from “Pokemon Go” (Haunter, Skitty, Bayleaf), “Harry Potter” (Luna, Harry, Dobby) and “Game of Thrones” (Arya, Snow, Khaleesi) saw high increases among pet owners. Netflix’s summer smash “Stranger Things” also found some representation, with names like “Eleven” and “Barb” rising nearly 12 percent (what, no love for Dustin?). “The X-Files” fans also dubbed their pets with higher rates than usual (names like Mulder and Scully were up 10 percent).

More: This mashup of Harry Potter and ‘Stranger Things’ is actually kind of great

Dogs named for powerful women also rose 13 percent this year, where America saw its first major-party female nominee. The biggest increase in that category? Dogs named for Eleanor Roosevelt, rising at a rate of 42 percent. Meanwhile, dogs named for Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump also saw an increase.

Perhaps the most telling way dog names acted as a mirror to America in 2016 was in the “Dogs Named For Food” category. Junk-food-themed names like Taffy, Twix and Milano rose 2 percent, as did booze-themed names like Brandy, Guinness and Whiskey. And dogs named for health foods decreased 17 percent.

Lastly, the infographic from Rover said animal names like Bear, Moose and Tiger grew 8 percent from last year.

The report examines names that were input into Rover.com’s dog name database throughout 2016. Take a look at the full report here.

This Yeti billboard takes the temperature of some Austin favorites

A new billboard on South Congress Ave. both really wants you to buy a Yeti cooler and remind you how much the company, you know, gets Austin.

The sign features an over-sized thermometer gauging the “temperature” of several different things, including a Yeti (the coldest) and “Friday Night Lights” bad-boy-running back Tim Riggins (the hottest).

fnl-leslie-knope

Other things ranked on the thermometer include “that one snow day,” which comes in as just a little colder than Barton Springs, and fire ants, which are hotter than Tacodeli‘s famed salsa Doña.

READ: This Yeti billboard knows the Austin struggle

You know what’s even hotter than Taylor Kitsch, though? (Yes, even before he cut his hair.) Today’s record-setting temperatures. If only there were some sort of insulated box to keep all of our beverages cool…

READ: From small start, Austin-based Yeti grows into industry powerhouse

Dallas news station weighs in on taco war, says San Antonio beats Austin

The aftermath of war is never easy — especially when troublemakers abound.

Taco Joint is now open at 134 E. Riverside Drive. Matthew Odam/American-Statesman
Taco Joint is now open at 134 E. Riverside Drive. Matthew Odam/American-Statesman

WFAA, a news station in Dallas, decided this week to insert themselves into the often-heated feud between Austin and San Antonio over which is the real Breakfast Taco Capitol of Texas. Though the mayors of both cities called a cease-fire a few months back, it seems like we’re always just on the edge of war.

Start of taco war: Petition wants writer ousted from Texas over breakfast taco article

WFAA’s reporter David Schechter and viewer Olivia Gonzalez tested multiple Austin and San Antonio breakfast tacos in order to make their decision on which city is better, saying “it’s time to stir up this hornet’s nest once more.”

Read: Did this 1977 ‘Texas Monthly’ article declare Austin the breakfast taco war winner before it even began?

Here are the rules for how they conducted their test:

“Each city’s convention and visitor’s bureau nominated three restaurants and provided us with one spokesperson.  We ordered the same three breakfast tacos, everywhere (bean and bacon, potato and egg, barbacoa) with each owner choosing one wildcard taco.  Then, we scored for things like taste, authenticity and the quality of the tortilla.”

Schechter and Gonzalez started in Austin at Juan in a Million and

gave it an 82.5 out of 100 possible points. They gave Vera Cruz Taco Truck an 83.5 and Maria’s Taco Xpress a 78.5. Not too shabby, right?

Read: Dear San Antonio: Let’s not fight. Love, Austin

Well, when they get to San Antonio’s El Milagrito, they gave the restaurant a 91.5. Taco Haven received a 90 and Taco Taco got an 85.5. They also spoke to San Antonio Express-News’ food writer Edmund Tijerina who had something to say about Austin.

Explore: 35 Austin places for breakfast tacos

“San Antonians are pretty laid back and pretty forgiving but when, you know, Austin is trying to take credit for this, then that’s when San Antonio says okay. Hey, wait a minute, enough now,” he said.

Taco journalist Jared Neece said Austin is more like the city that’s bringing breakfast tacos to the world because so many people visit. “Austin’s unique. Austin does unique food. And whether doing that is taking it away from the traditional and making it something else and it’s losing its roots or if you just think it’s the evolution of the breakfast taco, I guess that’s up to you to decide,” he said.

When all was said and done, the final scores were in: Austin got an 81.5 and San Antonio got 89.

But does anything Dallas says about our tacos really matter? Our neighbors to the north should just mind their own business.

Will drone-delivered burritos revive the Great Breakfast Taco War?

Taco trucks on every corner? More like tacos from every cloud.

Breakfast tacos from Phil's Icehouse. Photo by Ralph Barrera.
Breakfast tacos from Phil’s Icehouse. Photo by Ralph Barrera.

We’re one day closer to that glorious moment where we can have Chipotle delivered to our front doors at the push of a button.

That’s right, those beautiful tacos, burritos and bowls are coming soon to a doorstep near you, courtesy of a friendly neighborhood drone.

If that sort of thing doesn’t scare you in an Orwellian way, the “Roanoke Times”‘ video of a drone from X’s Project Wing (formerly Google) test-delivering a Chipotle burrito.

A drone was spotted at a testing ground near Virginia Tech Monday, lowering test burritos on the campus.

Granted, the food was only carried about a tenth of a mile, but that’s a big step forward for food delivery.

This has big implications for the way we consume Mexican food and for the way technology is becoming an inescapable presence in our lives.

But what does it mean for the Great Breakfast Taco War of 2016?

When he leaned of the new development in food delivery Tuesday, he jokingly tweeted that it might violate the cease-fire agreement he came to with San Antonio mayor Ivy Taylor back in March:

https://twitter.com/dblanchard/status/775823922201698305

 

Will we have peace (and guac) in our times? Hopefully so. May we always be peaceful and never let burrito drones come between us, San Antonio.

This Austinite is bringing ‘Austin-style’ tacos to New Yorkers

Photo courtesy of King David Tacos
Photo courtesy of King David Tacos

From the “Texas Monthly” article that declared Austin the Mexican breakfast capital to President Obama’s Torchy’s stop, we already know Austin’s solid reputation when it comes to tacos — no matter what San Antonio tries to say. And now, even New Yorkers are in on the goods thanks to King David Tacos.

According to Grubstreet, born-and-bred Austinite Liz Solomon is the show runner behind King David Tacos — a breakfast taco catering business which set up shop in New York just a few months ago.

Explore: Take a taco tour around Austin

“Welcome to King David Tacos, where you’ll find the only breakfast tacos in New York made by a native Austinite, in the true Austin style, with real Austin ingredients,” the KDT website reads.

The taco joint is named after Solomon’s dad, David, who who offered to help her start a breakfast stand in New York City 10 years ago. But at the time, she was too busy getting her career in advertising started to listen.

As of right now, only two tacos are available on the KDT menu right now. The first one is the BPEC, which is a bacon, potato, egg and cheese taco. Then there’s the Queen Bean, which is a potato, egg and cheese taco with refried beans.

Read: In Texas Monthly’s top burger list, Austin falls second to San Antonio

Each individual taco sells for $4 and the minimum order is 100 — to Austin standards that’s pretty normal for a single taco but as San Antonio Express-News points out, you can get four tacos for the same price at some places. Considering New York can be a tough place for new businesses, Solomon said KDT is using the catering structure to rack up enough capital before expanding.

“The thing people are missing is that unlike many restaurant operations in New York, we are doing this on our own,” she said. “We are trying to break into an industry and scale in an achievable way, without having to take on the risk of a restaurant.”

Read: Bill Clinton was in Austin and he ate some local vegan tacos 

And apparently, KDT has been receiving some flack from the people over in San Antonio. We all know about the Austin-San Antonio taco feud, but the criticism led Solomon to even put out a statement saying “If any of you would like to come up to New York and start a San Antonio-style-anything joint, we Texans living in the Tex-Mex diaspora would be ever so grateful.”

It should be noted, Solomon isn’t the first Texas-native to bring breakfast tacos to New York. There’s Aaron Sanchez from El Paso who owns a small taco chain Tacombi, Dallas’ Clay Mallow, who owns a Guero’s in Brooklyn, and former Austin rock club owner Paul Oveisi who used to run a restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York called Ziramin. 

For now, Solomon plans to keep representing Austin and hopes to expand to selling individual tacos from pop-up stands. “I sincerely hope my hometown is being nicer to me than San Antonio,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Clinton was in Austin this week and he ate some local vegan tacos

In this Jan. 20, 2016, photo, former President Bill Clinton smiles as he speaks at a campaign stop for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Green Street Community Center in Concord, N.H. In the 2016 presidential campaign, a modern take on gender roles is increasingly on display in both parties. Hillary Clinton is looking to get back into the White House, but this time as president. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
In this Jan. 20, 2016, photo, former President Bill Clinton smiles as he speaks at a campaign stop for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Green Street Community Center in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Remember when President Barack Obama came to Austin during South By Southwest and made his first stop at Torchy’s Tacos?

Fresa's is located in the former Back-In-A-Flash photo store, which also housed Emerald City Press coffee shop, at 915 North Lamar Boulevard. Photos by Addie Broyles
Fresa’s is located in the former Back-In-A-Flash photo store, which also housed Emerald City Press coffee shop, at 915 North Lamar Boulevard. Photos by Addie Broyles

Well apparently it’s a thing for U.S. presidents to grab some tacos when they come to Austin. According to Eater Austin, former president Bill Clinton ate some of Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon this week at a private fundraiser for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

While everyone else at brisket-filled El Rey tacos, Chef Rene Ortiz whipped up some vegan tacos just for Clinton. Ortiz called it “an amazing experience.”

You can read Eater Austin’s full story here.

Three Austin taco joints make list of ‘greatest’ in U.S.; San Antonio’s not happy

Austin’s taco prowess has once again garnered national merit and regional disdain.

Tina Phan/American-Statesman. 10.4.13. Statesman restaurant critic and reporter reviews several Austin Eats vendors during the first weekend of ACL on Friday, October 4, 2013. Trailer Park taco (fried chicken, green chiles, pico de gallo, lettuce, tomato, cheese), $5, from Torchy's Tacos.
Torchy’s Tacos is one of the Greatest Tacos in America, according to Foursquare users. Tina Phan/American-Statesman.

The foodies of the Foursquare community voted three Austin taco joints onto a list of 50 of the country’s best. Tacodeli and Veracruz All Natural came in at Nos. 6 and 11, respectively, while Foursquarians declared our own Torchy’s Tacos as America’s Greatest Taco Spot.

Foursquare has not been shy with love for our local taco scene in the past, by the way. Velvet Taco and Fuel City from Dallas and Tacos Tierra Caliente from Houston also represented Texas on the list.

RELATED: President Obama stopped at Torchy’s Tacos during his visit to Austin.

Feeling the snub, San Antonio decided it was time to reheat the taco beef between our two tortilla-loving towns. So much for your taco treaty, mayors.

In a story published online Wednesday, the San Antonio Express-News called Foursquare’s voters “misguided” and suggested they “get out more.” Tijerina also accused Torchy’s of taco plagiarism and “lame salsas.” But even he had to admit that our readers’ favorite green chile queso is “tasty.”

Sorry, San Antonio. As far as we’re concerned, the people have spoken. Can we still be friends?

MORE: 11 Austin tacos to try