Mariah Cooks: Torchy’s Democrat Barbacoa Taco Copy Recipe

Barbacoa Taco Recipe

So this year I promised to post some recipes and other Dagupion Family goings on to make this blog not just based on photography. I LOVE to cook. It’s really developed over the years (when I first married Peter I could cook up a mean pot of Rice-A-Roni!). Now my recipes are mainly based upon the Paleo/Primal principles of eating, which I follow 80% of the time. But sometimes you just need a good taco!

When we lived in Austin, we discovered a place called Torchy’s. Torchy’s is the bomb dot com. My favorite taco on the planet is called the Democrat. It’s barbacoa on a tortilla with queso fresco, cilantro, and lime. When we moved back home to Maui, I literally begged Torchy’s for their recipe, but alas, I had to come up with my own. This is the real stuff. None of that Tex-Mex stuff (because *gasp* I hate Tex-Mex!). Now for this to be the real thing, you need beef cheek. It’s not a common cut. Your butcher can get it for you or you can get it at You can use a regular roast too, but I promise the beef cheek makes the difference!

What you’ll need for the toppings:

Queso Fresco
Cut Cilantro
Avocado – sliced
Organic Corn Tortillas

For the Barbacoa:

1/8C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1.5 Tsp. Garlic
1.5 Tsp. Cumin
1/2 Tsp. Pepper
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Crushed Cloves
1/3 C. Chicken Broth
Half a Bay Leaf
1 Tbsp. Lime Juice
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce (this is from a can. I separate them into separate baggies and keep in the freezer)
1 Pound Beef Cheek

The Method:

Pan fry beef cheek in oil of choice (I use coconut oil) to brown the outsides. While it’s cooking, combine all the ingredients, except for Bay Leaf, into blender and blend until smooth. Add the beef cheek to the crock pot, place the Bay Leaf on top, and pour blended “adobo” onto the beef cheek. Cook on low for a good 8 hours. Shred when done.

I have found that this is best when prepared one day ahead. It is great after cooking, but if you let it rest in the fridge until the next day, the flavors are AMAZING. Top with your favorite toppings on an organic corn tortilla.



Elaine Norris Goolsbey

I can’t wait to try to make this. Just gotta find Beef Cheek. But I love the Democrat at Torchy’s

Stephen Gambone

I visited my son [ Maui boy] in Austin a month ago and first experienced barbacoa at Habaneros in South Austin then ate the Democrat at Torchys. Yowee, so now I,m googling for recipes and came across your post of Torchys recipe. Mahalo for posting this.

Frank Jones

Bless you for this, milady. I’m in Ft Worth, and I can still get the tacos at Torchy’s, but I’d love to make ‘em at home.

Razan Muhtaseb

Your recipe has been featured on my blog! Check it out here & thanks for the awesome recipe!

Shauna Causeymoto

I am driving back to Phoenix after my first trip to Austin where I had a Democrat 4 times in 2 days because it’s the best thing in the world!! I love you for posting this!!! ????

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