- Matthew Odam American-Statesman Staff
P. Terry’s owners Patrick and Kathy Terry hope to do for the taco stand what they did for the fast-food burger when they opened their first drive-thru 12 years ago. The couple plans to open Taco Ranch in Southwest Austin later this year in a former Burger King at MoPac Boulevard and U.S. 290 (5033 U.S. 290 W.).
While they are still finalizing a menu, Patrick Terry said Taco Ranch will rely on the same elements that have made P.Terry’s such a success: quality (humanely raised meats, organic eggs, etc.), value and convenience. Everything in the restaurant will be made from scratch, including both flour and corn tortillas, salsas, guacamole and queso.
“I’m astounded when I go to a taco stand and pay $3.50-$4 for a taco and I know the tortilla came out of a package,” Terry said. “Clearly there are a lot of people doing it very successfully, so I don’t question that, and I give them all the credit in the world. But we’re going to make it as hard on ourselves as possible, as we always do.”
Terry and his wife have been testing recipes in their kitchen and turning to many of their 500 P. Terry’s employees for ideas. The hope, as with P. Terry’s, is to deliver restaurant-quality food at a low price point that makes it accessible to pretty much everyone.
“It will be reminiscent of taco stands, again, from the early ’60s. A very simple menu. It’s not going to be hard to figure out, and I’m hoping that everyone will be surprised by the quality, the taste and the price,” Terry said.
The restaurant, which will be designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, will feature a dining room, patio and drive-thru, and with Hsu involved, don’t expect it to look anything like a Burger King. Taco Ranch will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night. As for future expansion, Terry says that they are currently only focused on one location.
“The smartest thing we ever did was that we never looked beyond the first one,” Terry said of the process he followed in opening his original burger drive-thru on South Lamar Boulevard.
Bao’d Up , a fast-casual restaurant focused on Chinese steamed buns, opened last week at 1911 Aldrich, Suite 1A, in the Mueller development. The restaurant is operated by chef Ting Li, who also owns Xian Noodles.
The menu features steamed buns, savory meat and veggie-filled buns, sweet fried bao, bubble tea and more.
Eater critic Bill Addison travels the country all year looking for the best the nation’s restaurants have to offer. His annual assessment of the best new restaurants in America this year includes a unique Austin restaurant that hybridizes Japanese and Central Texas traditions. When he first looked at the menu at the izakaya-smokehouse Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, Addison thought, “Welcome to Gimmick Town.”
Then he tried the mash-up of East and West in dishes like octopus fritters with chili and poke with guacamole and thought, “Genius.” It’s the second time this year that the restaurant from chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya “Tako” Matsumoto has received praise from a national publication. GQ’s Brett Martin named it one of the country’s 10 best new restaurants in April.
For my full review from earlier this year, visit austin360.com/thefeed.
Xochi, the new Oaxaca-inspired restaurant from recent James Beard winner Hugo Ortega of Houston, was the only other Texas restaurant to make the list.
Porter Ale House, known for its burgers, beer and slick bar snacks, has closed at 3715 S. First Street after about 3 1/2 years in business, according to its Facebook page. Located underneath the Tree Condominiums, Porter was opened in January 2014 by Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort veterans Joe Bixel, Neil Joiner and Trevor Lane.
“Special thanks to all of the great people who have worked so hard to help us realize our dream,” the Facebook post read in part. “We are very sad to have to close our doors. We will be seeing you again soon as we have other projects in the works.”
Joiner posted a comment in addendum to the original post requesting Porter fans visit him at his German-style food truck, the Black Forest, at Live Oak Brewing Company.