My memories of Austin, Texas, where I lived for two years, are inextricably tied to my feelings about the fried avocado tacos from Torchy’s. Food, especially local, you-can-only-get-it-here food, creates a powerful emotional link to the cities where we buy it and eat it, partly because it’s so sensory — you touch it, taste it and smell it all at once. These fried avocado tacos were unlike any Mexican food I’d ever had, the avcoado hand-battered and fried golden, served atop a corn tortilla slathered in refried beans and poblano sauce. It was the kind of food that makes you think, “Should we really move away from Austin?”
After we left, food was our major nostalgia pain point for Austin. A couple years ago, when I flew back to the city for the Texas Book Festival, my first stop outside the airport was the Torchy’s on South Congress. The tacos were one of my main sources of place-related happiness in Austin. The local food helped me fall in love with where I lived.
So when I saw that a Torchy’s-style restaurant called Wicked Taco was slated to open in my town, Blacksburg, Virginia, my reaction was borderline ecstatic. In my zeal, I followed the as-yet-unopened restaurant on Twitter and Instagram. I wanted to keep apprised of their progress, but I also wanted to show my support. To say, “We want you here.” Every time they posted a picture of delicious-looking tacos, I double-tapped to like it.