Finally, you can get a Trailer Park Taco in Baton Rouge.
Torchy's Tacos, the Texas-based eatery, is now serving up that fan-favorite and lots of others, including a new creation made just for Louisiana, at its spanking new spot near Tiger Stadium.
The restaurant had planned to open four months ago, but the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shutdown of restaurants threw a wrench in those plans.
"Opening a new restaurant is always difficult," said Tony Mefford, managing partner, "but then you throw in the curveball of 2020 and it has been a challenge."
The 3658 Nicholson Drive restaurant is the third location of the Tex-Mex chain opening in Louisiana. Locations in Lake Charles and Shreveport opened in June.
Getting the doors open here took multiple rounds of hiring and rehiring, trimming down the menu, refocusing on to-go service and patience, Mefford said.
Now, about 80 staffers are on the payroll and ready to serve up Torchy's 14 tacos, slimmed down from the original 23 on the menu, as well as appetizers and drinks from the full-service bar, he said.
The 14 choices include breakfast tacos and the aforementioned Trailer Park Taco (fried chicken, green chiles, pico de gallo, cheese and poblano sauce on a flour tortilla). To get it "trashy," ditch the lettuce and add queso.
New for the Louisiana market is the Bayou Pirate Taco. The tasty taco is stuffed with Louisiana crawfish and andouille, with chipotle and diablo sauces, chow-chow relish and cabbage slaw. One Torchy's staffer joked that it is "welcome to Louisiana in a taco."
Other menu offerings include Torchy's Green Chile Pork Taco (pork carnitas, green chiles, cotija cheese, cilantro, onions and a lime wedge with tomatillo sauce on a flour tortilla) and its Crossroads Taco of smoked beef brisket, grilled onions, jalapeños, cilantro, avocado and jack cheese with tomatillo sauce on a flour tortilla. There's also the Fried Avocado Taco (fried avocados, refried pinto beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, cheese and poblano sauce.)
One interesting app that caught our eye with the Hillbilly Queso with Chorizo.
Another local twist is the Damn Good Hurricane. Crafted especially for Baton Rouge, it consists of rum, sweet-and-sour mix, passion fruit puree, orange juice and grenadine.
"Torchy's started out as a food truck so it has always been sort of a grassroots, community (model)," said Mefford, who has been in the Baton Rouge restaurant industry for 25 years. "His (Torchy's founder Mike Rypka) original marketing plan was to ride around Austin on his Vespa scooter and hand out tacos and queso. Trying to keep it local is really important to us."
The story goes that Rypka heard "Damn, these tacos are good!" so much, it became the restaurant's motto.
You'll find the "Damn Good" slogan on the menu and emblazoned in neon letters inside the restaurant across from a fiery red mural of mischievous devils taking up the wall behind bar.
Mefford said the goal of the restaurant is to make everything they do "damn good," from the in-house sauces to homemade tortillas. Nothing, he said, comes out of a bag.
"There have been a lot of restaurant companies that have really struggled through this thing," Mefford said. "And Torchy's, of course, we're down in sales company-wide because of the nature of it, but we are positioned, I think, to really come out of this thing with a leg up over the competition."
As in-house dining attempts to rebound in Louisiana, Mefford said he knew they had to lean in to the takeout option.
The restaurant is offering phone-in and walk-up to-go orders. Ultimately, they plan to offer online ordering and deliveries through Door Dash.
Moving forward, Mefford said discussions are ongoing about opening more Torchy's in Louisiana. Already locations are being scouted in Lafayette, he said, and the possibility of a second Baton Rouge Torchy's is also "on the table."
"God willing we'll all get past this pandemic at some point and return to some sense of normalcy," Mefford said.