. Growing up in London England there was a pub on practically every corner (ok that’s a bit of a stereotype). Now living in Houston, there seems to be a Tex-Mex restaurant on each corner (along with a Starbucks of course). Ask the locals and each will give you their own particular favorite restaurant. For my youngest daughter who is now living in Chicago, Torchy’s Tacos is always where she heads on visits home. So, I thought it was high time that I visited this popular eatery.
In 2006 Michael Rypka bought a food trailer by maxing out his credit cards and remortgaging his house and set up business in Austin, Texas. Things didn’t start out too well. So, Michael began to hand out free chips and his homemade salsa to entice customers to his food trailer. Listening to customer’s feedback, Michael honed his menu and now the 30 stores plus a trailer park attest to his success.
There are currently 11 stores in and around the greater Houston area. Houstonians can now get their fix whenever they feel the need.
My recent visit was to the Heights location on the corner of W 19th Street and Ashland Street. There is a large car park behind this store. An outdoor patio, and a faux patio, plus a bunch of tables and booths crammed into a fairly small space. The design is quite eclectic but made me think of a 50’s diner.
We began with chips and queso, because that is simply a must try item. The bowl of green Chile queso is topped off with a dollop of guacamole, a little cilantro, and a swirl of diablo hot sauce that gives it that extra kick. I thought the homemade chips were a tad greasy for my liking. But judging by the huge amount of people ordering them, this is not an issue for others.
To the queso order we added The Democrat taco – a choice of corn or flour tortilla filled with shredded beef barbacoa, a chunk of fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, and onions. A small pot of tomatillo salsa and a chunk of fresh lime rounds out this plate. Quite a hearty portion with extremely tender and flavorful beef mixed perfectly with the veggies.
We also tried the Baja Shrimp taco – a fried battered shrimp mixed with cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos, onions, queso fresco, and a smattering of cilantro. A portion of chipotle sauce and a wedge of lime finish off this plate. The double layer of tortillas just about held all the goodies in place and allowed us to eat this sizable serving.
Beer, both on draft and by the bottle, is available plus an extensive full bar area so it seemed rude not to try a local brew. I went with a St Arnold blend and was not disappointed, although somewhat surprised at its dark color (but Im no beer connoisseur).
This restaurant is perfect for anyone needing a quick Tex-Mex fix. A relaxed atmosphere, tasty food, plenty of interesting combinations, and a full bar – what’s not to like?
Address: 350 W 19th Street, Houston, Tx 77008
Phone: 713 595 8229
Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-10pm, Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-10pm
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