When it comes to restaurant hype, I try to be immune to it since often enough or not, it’s just a case of hyperbole and PR. But every now and then, a restaurant meets that foodie hype which is a really pleasant surprise. If you’re a fan of Tex-Mex cuisine, I’m happy to say that Torchy’s Tacos in Midtown East (Raleigh) is bringing it when it comes to that style of eats. I’ve had the chance to dine at Torchy’s at least three times (one comped media visit, two personal visits) and it’s always been a flavor-filled and enjoyable dining experience. Here’s why Torchy’s is worth the effort, wherever you live in the Triangle!
A popular Tex-Mex chain from Austin, Texas, Torchy’s at Midtown East is their first East coast location out of nearly 100 in the country, primarily Texas! Started by Chef Mike Rypka in a food trailer, Torchy’s is known for their “Damn Good” tacos and queso as proclaimed in some of the store signage! The Raleigh location is conveniently located in front of Wegman’s and next to Crumbl Cookies which means you’ll probably be gaining some weight as SOON as you pull into the plaza. 🙂 There is some street parking in this new plaza but alternatively, grab a shaded space in Wegman’s underground lot and walk the block over as some cardio before your meal.
Torchy’s sports a retro-sign overhead, lit by bulbs and a nice side patio with shades. Inside you’ll find a queuing area in front of the two counter cashiers with the menu above. Note that you may be able to bypass the line and just dine at the bar in back to get seated quickly. Torchy’s menu is super basic focused on twenty or so tacos, a salad and burrito option along with some sides. Don’t miss their creative “secret menu” available online. There’s also a gluten-conscious menu which focuses on tacos with corn tortillas and more. Once you order, you’ll be given a buzzer, you can self-serve your soft drinks at a machine and grab a table. The decor here is primarily bright fire-engine reds, blacks, and browns! It all feels very modern with a hint of retro in the dining room. And don’t forget the 12 or so seats at the back bar (stools and 2-tops), Torchy’s will get really busy during prime-time hours.
Now how about the food, amirite?! Let’s just start with the fact that the portion sizes at Torchy’s are generous. While at some places I could eat 3 or more tacos, you’ll be lucky to survive past 2 at Torchys given the size and amount of filling they load on top of their larger tortillas. To start off with, don’t miss out on their “damn good” queso! It’s a show-stopper and topped with avocado, cotija cheese, diablo sauce and cilantro. Served up with a large basket of thin and crispy chips, this decadent dip will serve 2 to 4 people. And you’ll be fighting for the chip scraps at the end! You can also get it loaded with chorizo to level up your queso game. Another nice touch is that Torchy’s serves up breakfast tacos, mostly filled with egg, cheese and more. I tried out the Wrangler which is filled with brisket and potato chunks, quite a mouthful. Note that breakfast tacos are served up all day long and they usually will have migas on the menu, an Austin breakfast favorite!
If you’re looking for something more substantial, I love their green chile pork tacos which are a tried and true Tex-Mex favorite. You can get your tacos “trashy” which means to pull off the lettuce and add queso, a winning combination in my book! Friends at my table loved the Baja shrimp taco, plump fried shrimp with slaw, pickled onions and jalapenos, probably one of Torchy’s lighter taco choices.
And the secret menu tacos are ridiculous, I tried the Trailer Park, Hillbilly style which is a large crunchy chicken tender topped with chorizo, chiles, queso, cheddar cheese and pico de gallo. You’ll probably be eating this taco with a fork! All the secret tacos tend to be ginormous and packed with filling making them easily worth 2 to 3 tacos, wow!
Service has been excellent during my visits. They are super-busy but aim to make you happy. All in all I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I like Torchy’s Tacos! Its proximity to Wegmans where I shop often doesn’t hurt either. Torchy’s ups the Triangle taco game by amping up the Tex-Mex and Southwestern flavors making for a decadent and flavor-packed meal. Yeah, it’s probably not such a good idea if you’re on a diet but who cares when you’ve got eats that are this “damn good”! A fun spot for a great meal, no foodie hype necessary at all…