Torchy's Tacos, which opened its first Tarrant County location in Fort Worth on Thursday, threw a preview party Wednesday night. It really was a party atmosphere: There was a never-ending out-the-door line during the nearly two hours we were there, and my first question was "Will the music always be this loud?"
Answer: no, this was a DJ brought in for the occasion. From where I sat, I could see a woman dancing to virtually every song, whether it was Kool & the Gang's early-'70s funk classic Jungle Boogie or Foster the People's vastly overplayed Pumped Up Kicks. If I had her moves, I'd dance to every song, too.
This Torchy's has a bar which has an interior side and a patio side, the latter of which was pretty popular on a warm night. Mixed drinks are available as well as beer. There's also table service on the patio, which you can expect to be packed when the weather is pleasant.
Having been to Torchy's locations in Dallas and Austin, we expected to like the food, which includes more than a dozen beef, pork, chicken, seafood and veggie signature tacos. Our hits were the Independent, a fried portobello mushroom taco that my vegetarian wife preferred over the more prosaically named Fried Avocado; and the Trailer Park, a fried-chicken/green-chile taco that, really, got its best flavors from the cheese and pico.
he only real disappointment was the Crossroads smoked beef-brisket taco where the meat was cut in such small cubes that the only way to taste it was to remove it from the other ingredients entirely. (Tacos range from $3.50 to $4.75 and are substantial enough that one would suffice for a lot of people.)
We liked the green chile queso, flavorful if a little runny, and the tomatillo salsa, which has a three-chile blend and a spicy-tangy flavor. Guacamole was also good and fresh, and the chips were sturdy enough to stand up to the dips (Torchy's has six hot sauces, and pairs them with various orders.)
To get a more realistic idea of what this place is like, I returned for a solo lunch a little after 1 p.m. Thursday and found a long, but not out-the-door, opening-day lunch line. All things considered, things moved fairly quickly, and my tacos this time -- green chile pork and Baja shrimp -- were largely excellent, although the green-chile flavor was largely missing from the pork (which was so good that I didn't mind -- much -- about the green chile being MIA) and the pork taco was so stuffed that it fell apart after the first bite.
Torchy's other offerings include breakfast tacos ($2.25-$3.50) and a grande burrito that's the most expensive food item on the menu at $7.50. The location -- at the northeast corner of Forest Park Boulevard and Rosedale Street, with best access on the Rosedale side -- is a little awkward, especially with a Hilton Garden Inn looming over the patio (the official address is 928 Northton Street, which Google Maps insists on reading as "Norton," which is in a different part of Fort Worth, so just remember the corner).
But when you realize that it's roughly halfway between the Fuzzy's Taco Shop on Berry Street and the one on Race Street, you begin to realize that there's some strategy at work here. And it may be the first Torchy's in Tarrant, but it won't be the last -- a Southlake one is already in the works.