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.

 

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.

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.