The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Let’s Taco-’bout It: Tex-mex chain has underwhelming unveiling

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Customers wait in line to order an early-morning breakfast taco. The blue and yellow theme of the menu resonates throughout the entire restaurant.   

A 1960’s spin on traditional Mexican architecture welcomes customers into the newest restaurant by Patrick Terry and his wife, Kathy Terry (owners of P. Terry’s Burger Stand), Taco Ranch. Offering a range of Tex-Mex bites, from breakfast tacos to tostadas, this new fast food restaurant opened to the public Wednesday, January 24th, located in South Austin, off of Mopac and 290.

At 9:00 a.m. on opening morning, Taco Ranch buzzed with customers. The drive-through line stretched beyond the parking lot, and into the neighboring Chick-fil-A lot. Inside, patrons sit at many of the long wooden tables and benches. The design of the restaurant nods to Americanized Mexican culture, without the theme being overwhelming. Planters hang from the faux wood-beam ceilings. A tortilla making station sits up in the corner, similar to those seen in many other Tex-Mex chains. In addition to the indoor seating, a patio is available, complete with white picnic benches and string lights. Employees wear a uniform similar to those of P. Terry’s, with brown hats and aprons.

The service was welcoming.  Employees seemed excited for opening morning, but very overwhelmed. By 9:00 a.m., the kitchen had run out of eggs, putting a temporary halt on breakfast orders. By the late afternoon, the Taco Ranch had run out of most ingredients, forcing them to close early.

 The menu is broken into breakfast and lunch/dinner items, which is made slightly unclear due to the design of the menu. While it is clear that breakfast options are only available until 11:00 a.m., it is not noted that the other options are only available after 11:00 a.m..  Build-your-own breakfast taco fillers include potatoes, eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage, and chorizo. Customers have the option to choose two, three, or four fillers. Lunch and dinner choices include hard shell or soft tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, and taco salad. Classic Tex-Mex sides such as queso, guacamole, and salsa are also available. This menu is very similar to that of Taco Cabana. Taco Cabana offers two-filler breakfast tacos starting at $1.19, and the most expensive being $2.59. Taco Ranch’s two-filler tacos are a standard $2.25 for any two items, increasing by $0.25-$0.50 per added filler.

I tried the breakfast tacos and chips and queso. For the price of $3.25, the three item taco was underwhelming.The potato, egg, and cheese ratio was unbalanced, and the taco was generally dry and unfilling. The queso was mild and slightly bland. The accompanying chips were unevenly salted and oily. Factoring in the stresses for the first day of a new business location, the atmosphere was enjoyable, which balanced out the dissatisfactory food. With time, there is hope for this potentially trendy chain to develop into something more exciting, but for now, save the extra dollar and stick to local taco stands.

 

As a musical theater aficionado and actress Emily Ownby is frequently found in front of an audience or camera, but in contrast she spends just as much time being filming as being filmed. Emily is an avid film maker and video production editor for the Polaris Press who collects playbills from the shows she attends and hopes to be in 15th anniversary production of Wicked on broadway. Outside of newspaper, Emily is a musical theater expert, a certified scuba diver, a member of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network.

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