Torchy's Tacos Most Popular Menu Items, Ranked Worst To Best

Many Torchy's tacos
Many Torchy's tacos - Crawford Smith/Mashed

Torchy's Tacos is a chain that started as a single food truck in Austin, Texas, and has since expanded to dozens of brick-and-mortar locations scattered across 14 states. The company prides itself on using high-quality ingredients and cooking food from scratch, setting itself apart from other, lower-rent taco chains. Another thing that differentiates it from competitors is its menu, which is filled with tacos with quirky names and includes combinations of flavors you might not expect to find inside a tortilla.

As a former resident of Austin, I have dined at Torchy's many times over the years. Recently, I took a trip back to my old Texas stomping grounds and decided to sample some of Torchy's most iconic tacos so I could rank them from worst to best. I crowdsourced recommendations for the most popular menu items from other Torchy's fans and taste-tested them all, ranking them based on flavor and presentation. Here are the results of my taco experiment.

Read more: Fast Food Hamburgers Ranked Worst To Best

12. Bacon, Egg, And Cheese

Bacon, egg, and cheese taco
Bacon, egg, and cheese taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The bacon, egg, and cheese strays a bit from the typically elaborate tacos at Torchy's, but I wanted to try it as a baseline — it's a popular order at taquerias all over Texas, so it seemed like it should be easy for Torchy's to nail this simple classic. Sadly, it was the weakest item I sampled during this taste test.

The main problem (which was an issue for all the breakfast tacos at Torchy's) was that there were far too many eggs. If you absolutely love scrambled eggs, this might not be a problem for you, but I prefer the egg to play a supporting role in breakfast tacos. At least they were cooked properly (fluffy and set but not overdone and dry) but they overwhelmed the other toppings. The amount of bacon in the taco, while not exactly skimpy, felt inadequate in comparison to the big pile of eggs. Also, the bacon was finely chopped into bacon bits. I find it's better when left in strips because then it provides more textural contrast to the soft eggs and tortilla. The shredded cheese in the taco didn't add much to the flavor other than being salty.

This taco was served with salsa roja, Torchy's least interesting salsa. It tasted mostly like ground-up tomatoes without much seasoning, spice, or tang. Overall, this taco certainly wasn't bad, but many other places serve more delicious renditions of the bacon, egg, and cheese.

11. Ace Of Spades

Ace of Spades taco
Ace of Spades taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

In contrast with the minimalist bacon, egg, and cheese, the Ace of Spades is probably the most over-the-top taco that the chain offers. Technically, it's on Torchy's "secret menu," which isn't so secret at this chain (like at In-N-Out, the official "secret menu" items are listed on the company's website).

The Ace of Spades is supposed to come with jalapeño cheddar sausage, brisket, queso, shredded cheddar jack, cotija, sour cream, and a fried egg, but the one I received was missing the egg. The massive pile of meat and dairy can't be contained by a single tortilla, so it's served on two flour tortillas shingled together. While the idea of this taco was exciting, in practice, it was a classic case of more not always equaling better.

Each component tasted good on its own — the sausage was juicy and a little spicy, the brisket had a nice smokiness, and the queso was savory and rich, with a pleasant hit of green chile — but combined, all of the flavors became indistinct and muddled. It was hard to eat without making a mess, and it was way too salty. Almost every component was salty on its own, so there was just too much sodium when everything came together. This taco earns points for being more interesting than the bacon, egg, and cheese, but all of these ingredients tasted better in other, less complicated tacos.

10. Fried Avocado

Fried avocado taco
Fried avocado taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

Vegetarians can get in on the fun at Torchy's with the fried avocado taco, which consists of generous chunks of breaded avocado on a bed of refried beans, topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and cheese. The avocado pieces were very satisfying; the breading seemed to be panko-based, and it had a light crispiness that contrasted well with the creamy fruit.

Besides the fried avocado, however, the other components of this taco weren't all that special. The refried beans were a bit bland, as was the pico. The poblano sauce got lost in the sea of other toppings and the lettuce tasted like water. Since all the toppings were wet, the avocado lost its crispiness quickly. Unlike most of the other menu items I tried, which were intensely salty, this taco could have used more seasoning. Unless you don't eat animal products, I'd recommend ordering something meatier at Torchy's, though the quality of the fried avocado itself and the fact that the taco was easy to eat made it better than the bottom two entries on this list.

9. Republican

Republican taco
Republican taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

Torchy's serves two tacos named after political parties — I have no idea why this one is named the Republican, but purely based on flavor, it was my least favorite of the two. The Republican comes standard with jalapeño cheddar sausage, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and poblano sauce. The sausage was the same as the one in the Ace of Spades, but I appreciated it more here because it didn't get overwhelmed by other ingredients. It was moist and the casing had a nice snap from its time on the grill. The poblano sauce was tasty too — it was a blended, creamy, ranch-like dressing with just a bit of kick and a vibrant green chile flavor.

The other two toppings didn't do much for me. The pico was mostly chopped tomato and didn't add much beyond a kind of watery crunch. The cheese was the same cheddar jack blend that Torchy's puts on so many of its tacos — not flavorful, but not offensive. Thanks to the strength of the sausage and poblano sauce, the Republican stays out of the bottom quarter of the list, but other Torchy's menu items deliver a more cohesive, memorable experience.

8. Bean And Cheese

Bean and cheese taco
Bean and cheese taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

Even more basic than the bacon, egg, and cheese taco is the bean and cheese, which is just refried pinto beans and cheddar jack on a flour tortilla. This was the only thing I ordered off the kids menu, and sure enough, it looked like kid food. Aesthetically, it was a beige mush, perfect for those who can't handle eating vegetables or salsa yet. Tastewise, it was surprisingly satisfying.

With such simple toppings, I could really appreciate the quality of Torchy's flour tortilla, which was soft, fluffy, and fresh-tasting — worlds better than the store-bought tortillas available in most of the U.S. (We've ranked some of these tortillas, from worst to best so you know which to avoid!) The beans were nice and creamy, and they tasted like they were made from scratch; the earthy flavor of the pinto beans came to the forefront in this dish. Again, the cheese was bland, but at least it was melty and stretchy, which added a nice textural component to the taco.

While this taco was pleasant, it wasn't very exciting, which is why it's ranked relatively low on the list. I also docked a few points because the beans, though tasty, could have used more seasoning — a bit more onion, garlic, cumin, and chile would've taken them to the next level (see this easy recipe for refried beans here).

7. Wrangler

Wrangler taco
Wrangler taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The Wrangler is a smoked brisket breakfast taco with eggs, cheese, and potatoes (though the potatoes appeared to be missing on mine). I did, however, receive a generous portion of brisket, which I appreciated. The beef was well-seasoned with a Texas-style salt and pepper rub and had a good amount of smoke flavor. It was intensely beefy, to the point of tasting slightly gamey. The one issue with the brisket was that it was slightly chewy, which didn't work well texturally with the soft eggs.

Speaking of the eggs, as with the bacon, egg, and cheese taco, there were too many of them. I ended up picking out most of the brisket and leaving the egg behind. This taco came with tomatillo salsa, which tasted good but didn't make much of an impression, as the beef itself was so flavorful on its own. This taco was overall not the greatest, but the tastiness of the brisket was enough to get it close to the middle of the ranking.

6. Ranch Hand

Ranch Hand taco
Ranch Hand taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The Ranch Hand is quite similar to the Wrangler, except the brisket is swapped out with marinated grilled beef and garnished with diablo sauce instead of tomatillo salsa. Thankfully, they didn't forget the potatoes on this one. The diced potatoes were tossed in a tasty seasoning mixture that was rich with cumin, chile powder, and black pepper (you can try a similar chili seasoning recipe here). These were delicious but unevenly cooked — some pieces were perfect, while others were a bit too al dente in the middle. I preferred the grilled beef over the brisket because it was more tender and lacked the hint of gaminess I detected in the Wrangler. With both the potatoes and meat offering a variety of textures and flavors, this was the most balanced breakfast taco I tried; I didn't feel like I was struggling with an excessive amount of scrambled eggs.

I really appreciated the flavors in this taco, and it would rank higher if not for the undercooked potatoes. Those were a serious bummer, unfortunately, so the Ranch Hand sits at the middle of the ranking, despite how delicious it was.

5. Green Chile Pork Missionary Style

Green chile pork Missionary Style taco
Green chile pork Missionary Style taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

This is another entry from the "secret menu". It's similar to the regular green chile pork taco, except the toppings are encased in double-decker tortillas. The outside layer is a soft flour tortilla, while the inside is a fried corn tortilla. The tortillas are glued together with melted cheese. Conceptually, the idea is similar to a Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch, except the corn tortilla I received hadn't been fried long enough to properly get crunchy, so it didn't deliver the textural punch I was hoping for.

Despite that mild disappointment, this taco still ranks relatively high because of the tastiness of its filling. The green chile pork carnitas were beautifully tender, with crispy edges from being reheated on a griddle. The chipotle sauce and guacamole both added creaminess, while the pickled onions lent the dish a mouthwatering touch of tangy flavor. Next time, I'd order the standard single-tortilla green chile pork taco, but I still enjoyed this Missionary Style version.

4. Trailer Park Trashy

Trailer Park Trashy taco
Trailer Park Trashy taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The Trailer Park is Torchy's fried chicken taco, which is topped with green chiles, pico, shredded cheese, poblano sauce, and lettuce. You can order it three ways: Regular, Trashy, or Hillbilly Style. I ordered it Trashy, which means the lettuce is replaced with queso. The chicken was expertly fried; even with all the wet toppings, it remained perfectly crunchy. It was dusted with a cumin-heavy seasoning mix that helped the fried chicken make sense inside a taco and overall taste vaguely Tex-Mex. The roasted green chiles were the next most prominent flavor component, adding even more savoriness. The cheese and queso sauce brought a luxurious creaminess to the dish — altogether, this was the most decadent taco I tried.

This has historically been my favorite taco at Torchy's, so I fully expected it to win this ranking. The reason it got demoted to fourth place is because the one I received was just a little too salty. It wasn't as much of a salt lick as the Ace of Spades, but the sodium content was still excessive, to the point where it dominated the other flavors in the dish.

3. Baja Shrimp

Baja Shrimp tacos
Baja Shrimp tacos - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The Baja Shrimp can be ordered in either a grilled or fried version; I went with the fried. The shrimp batter, while similar in texture to the fried chicken breading, used a different seasoning mix. That meant the shrimp were just as deliciously crispy as the chicken, without being overbearingly salty. The shrimp themselves were perfectly cooked on the inside -- the meat was the right balance of tender and bouncy, and it retained a good deal of moisture.

All of the garnishes went perfectly with the shrimp. The cooked cabbage was soft and slightly sweet, while the pickled onions and lime wedge delivered acidity to cut through the richness of the fried shrimp. The creamy chipotle sauce paired wonderfully with the shrimp's briny, oceanic flavor. The crumbled cotija cheese contributed a little extra salt and umami. This could have earned the top spot, but I noticed that the shrimp meat had a slightly fishy aftertaste — for me, the ideal shrimp should taste sweet and clean, with no fishiness at all.

2. Brushfire

Brushfire taco
Brushfire taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

The Brushfire is Torchy's take on Jamaican jerk. It's stuffed with jerk chicken, diced mango, and jalapeños. The jerk chicken tasted surprisingly legit — it was infused with the potent aromas of allspice and cloves. Even better, it was cooked perfectly: It's easy to dry out boneless, skinless chicken, but the chicken pieces were juicy and tender (try out these game-changer chicken hacks the next time you cook). As you might guess by the name, this taco was seriously spicy too. The grilled jalapeños packed a punch, and it was served with a side of spicy diablo sauce. The diablo sauce was interesting, as when I first tasted it, I thought it was a sweet red pepper sauce without much kick. After a couple of seconds, though, it revealed itself to be pretty intensely hot. Jerk should be super spicy, so I loved that the Brushfire didn't pull any punches. The sweet mango helped tame the flame a bit and balance out the taco.

I loved this taco, but it lost out on the very first ranking because it was a little too sweet. Between the mango, sweet spices in the chicken rub, and bell pepper flavor of the diablo sauce, sweetness overpowered some of the savory elements of the dish.

1. Democrat

Democrat taco
Democrat taco - Crawford Smith/Mashed

I certainly don't want to make any political endorsements within the confines of a Mashed article, but I can confidently say that when it comes to flavor, Torchy's Democrat taco has my vote. In terms of originality, it can't compete with many of Torchy's other offerings — it's simply a traditional beef barbacoa taco on a corn tortilla with classic street taco toppings like cilantro, chopped white onion, and avocado. However, it was executed so perfectly that I can't help but give it the top spot.

The barbacoa is slow-cooked until it's succulent and tender. It's seasoned with very little besides salt, so the pure taste of the beef shines through. It seems like it gets reheated on a flattop griddle, because some pieces have crispy, browned edges (these crispy bits are the tastiest part). The avocado adds richness, while the sharp flavor of the onions and cilantro inject some much-appreciated brightness. By default, this taco is served with tomatillo salsa, which is the perfect choice — the natural tang of tomatillos is an ideal counterpoint to the umami savoriness of beef. The tortilla was super soft and pliable, with a strong corn flavor. I'll be ordering this taco every time I visit Torchy's in the future.


Torchy's tacos top view
Torchy's tacos top view - Crawford Smith/Mashed

Since Torchy's doesn't publish a list of its most popular items anywhere, I had to do some detective work to decide what to choose for this taste test. I scoured posts from Torchy's fans on Reddit and read some professional reviews to get a sense of what people enjoyed from the chain. I also informally surveyed friends who live in central Texas and asked them what their Torchy's faves were.

I tasted every taco on this list in one sitting and ordered each one exactly as it appeared on the menu, with no modifications. Primarily, I evaluated the flavor of each taco, but I also factored in considerations like presentation and originality. I purchased the tacos independently; they were not provided to me for free by Torchy's Tacos.

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