Sunday, May 8, 2016

Austin Food #1: Torchy's Tacos, Terry Black's Barbecue, and Voodoo Doughnuts

I recently went on a trip to Texas. Most of my time in the state was in Austin, but I did make a couple excursions to other nearby cities.

I was told that the two foods I had to try in Austin were breakfast tacos and barbecue. When I questioned what restaurants were good for these two foods, I was told it didn't matter because the standards for these foods were set so high in the city. Anything subpar apparently doesn't survive in Austin when it comes to these two foods. With that in mind, my first food adventure in Texas was to find some breakfast tacos...

Torchy's Tacos (University of Texas and Barton Springs Food Truck Park):

This is a local Austin chain. Somehow I have a T-shirt from Torchy's Tacos. I don't remember exactly where I got the shirt, but I recognized the name because of it and stopped into the Torchy's Tacos just outside UT on my first morning in Austin. I had The Wrangler, filled with scrambled eggs and potatoes with smoked beef brisket and jack cheese. I also had the Monk Special, with eggs, bacon, green chilies, and cheese. As my first introduction to Austin's breakfast tacos, I was impressed. These had a whole lot of flavor happening inside the tortillas and were overflowing with the fillings. I think I preferred The Wrangler a little over the Monk Special, but both were good.
I also happened upon another Torchy's Tacos for lunch during the trip. This Torchy's was in food truck form, located in the Barton Springs Trailer Park. I came across several of these food truck parks around the city and they definitely are an improvement on Orlando's food truck scene. The trucks are centered around actual structure, with tables, air conditioning, and bathrooms. That way you're not standing in a hot parking lot trying to eat your food. Food truck prices in Austin didn't seem to be horribly inflated like Orlando's are either.
I tried the Republican and the Crossroads tacos. The Republican was a flour tortilla filled with grilled jalepeno sausage, shredded cheese, and pico de gallo. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the hot dog-like sausage in the tortilla threw me off a little. It was okay, but I don't think I'd get The Republican again. Crossroads was filled with smoked beef brisket, grilled onions, jalepenos, cilantro, jack cheese, and a slice of avocado. This was the much better of the two tacos.

Terry Black's Barbecue:

To cross my barbecue in Austin off my list, I had dinner at Terry Black's Barbecue. Someone told me this was the second best barbecue in Austin. The number one barbecue choice involved lining up way early in the morning and waiting hours to get in, so I decided to pass on them. Second best was good enough for me because Terry Black's had some delicious smoked meat!
Terry Black's had an interesting setup. All the sides were buffet style where you served yourself, then your meat would be added onto the plate by an employee. I decided to try the brisket with macaroni & cheese and beans as my sides. I've sampled barbecue brisket in Florida here and there, but none compared this brisket. It was tender, almost creamy. The meat had a thick, peppery crust. It had a very nice smokey flavor. I don't like using superlatives, but I think I'm going to rate this as the best brisket I've ever had! Rather than the baked beans in barbecue restaurants that I'm used to seeing, here they served pinto beans. Pretty tasty. The macaroni and cheese was okay, but nothing noteworthy.

Voodoo Doughnuts:

When I was in Denver last year, I was told I needed to try Voodoo Doughnuts. I never got there, but when I passed by another Voodoo Doughnuts location in Austin, I decided to give them a try. There was a really long line almost out the door. With that many people wanting doughnuts, I was expecting something amazing.
I had one of their Voodoo Doughnuts. It was vaguely person shaped, covered in chocolate icing then topped with an icing eye and mouth. Inside, the doughnut was jelly filled so the blood oozed out as you  took a bite. Overall, I liked the concept but the doughnut was nothing exceptional taste-wise. It was a generic jelly doughnut with way too much icing. I wouldn't wait in that line again.

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