Torchy's Tacos

A secret menu item: The Matador taco, made with authentic Texas brisket (made there, transported here for consistency), Jack cheese, avocado, pickled onions, grilled jalapeños, sour cream, cilantro and tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla layered inside a flour tortilla. Each month, there's a taco of the month, and proceeds from its sale go to Phoenix Houses recovery centers, the Make-A-Wish foundation and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Torchy's Tacos launches its Colorado Springs location Wednesday, Oct. 20. 

The opening marks the ninth Colorado location out of some 94 stores now — all that since humble food truck beginnings in 2006 in Austin, Texas. 

Like many chains, Torchy's has garnered a very loyal following, and the Austinites I know still love it despite its rise. (Yeah, they tell nostalgic "remember when stories" to show their street cred, but just because Torchy's has gone big they haven't abandoned their fealty.) 

Before I go in for a media preview, I ask my girlfriend to text her brother (in Fort Collins, where there's also a location ... they both lived in Austin for 20-plus years) and have them both explain to me the hype as a total newbie. 

Out of the exchange, some snippets worth highlighting that sum up the place are as follows:

"It's not like god tier food but its always a good taco... I mean this is a taco joint. But it's the only place in Colorado where I can get some goddamn queso... hot liquid cheese, not melted cheese, cheesy, creamy gooey salt bomb, put it on everything to make it better ... Mmmmm, that's how you Texas....

...You're not getting Michelin star food. It's also modern Tex-Mex fusion. You don't go there for authentic lengua tacos or legit al pastor. You go there for a giant pile of meat, salt, cheese, smothered in queso etc. ... off the secret menu the Matador is my crack, and [my wife's] is probably the Naughty Santa. Always try the taco of the monthHillbilly style trailer park is a fat salt bomb of goodness."

So there you have it: some insider knowledge. 

And for my part, I greatly enjoyed my first sampling. Check out the captions under each photo for some of my thoughts and more context about what you're looking at. 

Then, go get some tacos and a margarita once they open, and decide for yourself if it's hype or really that damn good. 

Torchy's Tacos

House margaritas, all from house-made sweet and sour mix, are awesome. From left to right: the Camarena Cool Down (Camarena silver tequila, Curaçao, house mix), the House Rocks (Exotico Reposado, Triple Sec, lime juice) and a special frozen peach margarita.  

 

Torchy's Tacos

Local managing partner Eric Moore (left) and Torchy's founder/chef Mike Rypka. Rypka started Torchy's in 2006 and this is now Torchy's 94th location (with nine of those in Colorado). Moore has been in the industry 30 years. He tells me he started as a dishwasher and worked his way up through just about every industry position. His wife was a managing partner in the Springs' Bonefish Grill location, where he also worked. Torchy's has hired more than 80 people here (amazing giving the current worker shortage problem plaguing the industry). 

Torchy's Tacos

Torchy's is situated at 1358 Interquest Pkwy., a block away from another cult establishment, In-N-Out, and directly across the street from a Fuzzy's Taco Shop location. Soon, a Whataburger will open for even more chain congestion on the strip. Interquest has it all. 

Torchy's Tacos

Green chile queso and chips: a proprietary chile pepper and cheese blend with guacamole and garnishing cilantro, cotija and house Diablo sauce. This stuff is legend. I'm told founder Mike Rypka used to drive samples around town when he was slow at his original food truck, in order to hook people. (Like a drug dealer, but you know, with food.) 

 

Torchy's Tacos

Front: the Mr. Orange taco made with blackened salmon and a grilled corn and black bean relish, topped with cilantro, cotija and avocado sauce on a corn tortilla. Rear: the Baja Shrimp taco with grilled shrimp (typically fried but we go with our PR handler's fine recommendations), cabbage slaw, pickled jalapeños and onions and a chipotle sauce with the same garnishing setup minus the avo sauce. Our variant also has a surprising and spicy-delicious chorizo addition that sends it.  

Torchy's Tacos

Torchy's street corn (elote) — beautifully grilled corn mixed with red chile and topped with a killer ancho aioli, ample cotija, cilantro and lime. It's great also mixed with the house Mexican rice. 

 

Torchy's Tacos

It's a damn neon sign of Torchy's logo ... what else can I say? Key concept: now open! 

Torchy's Tacos

Torchy's sole dessert option: Lil' Nookies (cuz some sex comparison ... this from the cheeky place with t-shirts that say "Show me your taco"). They're easy: just chocolate chip cookie dough fried into balls and hit with powdered sugar and the Maraschino cherries not used by your local craft mixologist anywhere. Yes, they're sweet. 

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.