Texas taco joint Torchy’s Tacos now open in Columbus via a ghost kitchen

Local News

A fast-growing Texas taco chain is now available in Central Ohio.

Austin-based Torchy’s Tacos doesn’t have a storefront. It’s just the latest local ghost/virtual kitchen choice. You order online for carryout or delivery; there is no dine-in option.

Torchy’s is one of several tenants renting space inside the shared kitchen at 1282 Essex Ave. That facility is owned by California-based CloudKitchens. The space is now billing itself as the Columbus Food Hall.  

Torchy’s CEO G. J. Hart earlier said the Columbus operation would be the first test of a ghost kitchen model for the business.

Torchy’s pitch is that it takes street tacos and melds that with different flavor combinations like Baja shrimp with fried shrimp, cabbage slaw and pickled onions or the signature Trailer Park Taco with fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheddar cheese. One can “make it trashy” by swapping lettuce for green chile queso. It shouts out its green chile queso as an award-winning highlight of the menu.

It also serves Topo Chico mineral water and for dessert, Lil’ Nookies, fried chocolate chip cookie dough dusted with powdered sugar and topped with cherries.

Michael Rypka founded Torchy’s as a food trailer in Austin in 2006. It now has 85 locations across seven states and employs roughly 5,000, with plans to open an additional 17 restaurants in 2021 to reach an even 100. That number will rise further in 2022 with the addition of another 22 to 24 locations, Hart told the Austin Business Journal earlier this year. He expects Torchy’s to be in 17 states by 2025. It also reportedly is considering an initial public offering.

As part of its introduction to Columbus, Torchy’s is launching a new vegan option, the MoFaux, a taco made with Beyond Beef and topped with green chiles, grilled corn, peppadew peppers, avocado with cilantro and Diablo sauce.

Torchy’s won’t be the only area taco shop toying with some vegan options. Barrio, which has a restaurant near Grandview Heights and one coming to the 15th and High development across from Ohio State University, has teamed up with Vida’s Plant-Based Butcher in Columbus to create a vegan queso that will launch the week of Cinco de Mayo (free queso and chips for dine-in customers on May 4). They’re working on a plant-based chorizo too.

Fast-growing Condado Tacos has featured vegan options on its menu as well. Village Taco in Merion Village specializes in vegan creations.

For more business headlines, go to ColumbusBusinessFirst.com.

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