One of us walked up and wanted the spiciest tacos on the menu. Another of us wanted the least spicy.
We all wanted tacos.
And, as promised, Torchy’s Tacos delivered some “damn good” ones.
At the Jan. 30 media event, the St. Pete High Green Devils marching band greeted the crowd, as did a diaper-clad devil (we’re assuming there was a non-diaper-clad human inside the costume, and props to them for braving the warmest day this month in a furry red suit). As we walked into the restaurant, the staff hooted, hollered, and clapped for us.
This is not the reception most reporters get walking in anywhere, and we welcomed it. Turns out we were the first-ever customers at the first-ever Florida Torchy’s Tacos. It was the honor we didn’t know we needed after a long Monday at the office.
Torchy’s Tacos, a chain in 13 states, makes Florida its 14th state when it opens for business this coming Wednesday, Feb. 1 (so, Taco… Wednesday, then?), and St. Pete’s Tyrone eatery marks its first Florida location.
While we almost always prefer locally owned businesses to chains, there’s no denying that chain restaurants employ local people, and, in Torchy’s case, have the means to do some good: The company supports charities such as Make-A-Wish, and their website’s clear on two policies: ethically sourced foodstuffs and disposables made from 100% renewable materials (they’re pretty proud that their cooking oil gets turned into car fuel, so… 87 miles per taco, then?)
But how does the food taste?
In a word: good.
Our table tried the chicken fajita taco (solid!), beef fajita taco (not as tasty as the chicken fajita taco, but still pretty great), green chile pork (also pretty great), Crossroads (damn tasty, and also a nice touch of the ‘Burg in the name), shrimp (spicy!) and the Mo Faux (you really can’t go wrong with Beyond “meat”, even if it would be healthier to eat actual beef.) Our table agreed: the spicy sauces had more than a little kick, the drinks were delightful (the Camarena Cooldown was the perfect blend of sweet and tangy, with blue Curacao, tequila, and lime juice), and the street corn would have been a lot better had we not already gorged ourselves on tacos (next time, we’ll leave room, we swear!)
Torchy’s opens for real Wednesday, Feb. 1 (and yes, they have breakfast tacos because if you don’t have tacos for breakfast, can you even call yourself a taco lover?), and the first 100 people get a year’s worth of free queso. Apparently people have camped out to get this cheesiest of prizes, and who are we to judge?
It feels a little odd to be able to get hard liquor at a counter-service taco joint, but it works. And hey, if the line for Portillo’s is making you crazy (what is up with that, anyway?), what better time to hop next door and chill with a taco or two (and trust us, two is more than enough – these are filling tacos!)
And, hey, if their mascot looks a lot like the Little Devil from Richie Rich? Well, that makes the tacos even better.
Torchy’s Tacos, 2314 Tyrone Blvd. N., St. Petersburg. torchystacos.com