In Queso Emergency, Please Consult This List Of The 18 Best Quesos You Can Dip Into Around Dallas, From Classic Takes To Options Topped With Bacon And Even Brisket.
No, Dallas didn’t invent queso. But we did invent — and, later, wholly perfected — queso’s perfect companion, the frozen margarita.
Plus, we’re willing to bet that, as soon as Tex-Mex joints around Dallas caught wind of queso, they started slapping it on every appetizer menu around town, giving patrons all across the city the chance to dip tortilla chips into these bowls of cheesy goodness to their hearts’ content.
And, in the time since, we’ve come to wholly embrace the dish. Yes, just like the rest of our fellow Texans, we Dallasites love our queso. No, it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world to eat, and it may actually, for real contain natural opiates that are meant to keep our brains hooked on the stuff. But, like, we’re not going to stop eating it.
C’mon: Even the most die-hard health-conscious types among us indulge in a little queso dip from time to time. I mean, there’s a reason why the dish appears on pretty much every menu around town.
That said, not every queso offering is created equal. So, much like we did a while back when we found the 10 best deviled eggs and the best avocado toast plates around, we recently set out in search of Dallas’ best quesos. After weeks of painstaking research, we came up with the following list of 18 essential Dallas quesos for you to munch on before the waiter brings out your fajita platters, enchiladas or, well, whatever your Tex-Mex poison might be.
Before giving you the scoop, though, allow us this gentle reminder: Please dip responsibly.
The Off-Menu Ideal: Matt’s Rancho Martinez, Mattito’s, E Bar Tex Mex.
So, yes, everybody in Dallas knows about this renowned queso dish that you’ve got to order by name with a wink at Mattito’s. But you can just point to it on the menu over at Matt’s Rancho Martinez. More than just cheese, this Dallas classic also includes guac, sour cream and ground beef. In other words: This sucker is four times better than just a bowl of cheese. Wanna try a newer spin on it? E Bar Tex Mex might not have the decades of experience that Mattito’s and Matt’s do, but its take is worth the order, for sure.
The White Knights: Mesero, Meso Maya.
Why’s it white? Because the chihuahua cheese at the center of these versions is white — yes, melted or otherwise. The folks at Mesero also add spinach, artichoke, poblano peppers to their version. Since they’ve already started you down that path, we recommend also adding your choice of brisket or chorizo to your bowl for $3 more.
The Favored Curry: Velvet Taco.
Red curry coconut queso? Make no mistake at all, this is by no means a traditional queso. But it’s definitely a version you should try at least once. After one spicy bite, you’ll see that this spin on the dish is just as addictive as the original.
The Fundidos: Resident Taqueria, Jalisco Norte, Komali.
At these spots, you’ll be served tortillas instead of chips. That’s because fundido, in which molted cheese is served out of a piping hot skillet, is a little more refined that your run-of-the-mill queso. But it’s no less decadent, we promise! Plus, it’s basically the same thing. Really, fundido is queso that takes itself super seriously is all.
The Faker: HG Supply.
Listen, if you want vegan queso — that gotta be an oxymoron, right? — you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. At HG, their dairy-free take is made from cashews. It’s literally nuts, meaning you shouldn’t order it if you’re allergic
The Brisket Bunch: Lakewood Smokehouse, Smoky Rose, Katy Trail Ice House.
Is it really that surprising that Texas barbecue joints would top their queso with brisket? Not really. Suffice it to say that these three quesos represent the holy union of Tex-Mex and barbecue that you’ve been waiting your entire life.
The Plain Janes: Chuy’s, Tacodeli.
There ain’t much going on with these quesos. And, sure, the snobbier among you may turn your noses down at the fact that these spots are chains, not matter how beloved they may be. But, fact is, getting past a first location ain’t doable in Texas without good queso. So these spots must be doing something right, yeah? Well, Chuy’s definitely is: During happy hour, their queso is actually free. Oh, look at you changing your tune on chain restaurants all of a sudden. Ain’t that cute!
The Green Giants: Hopdoddy, Torchy’s.
These two more chains also do queso right, but their offerings aren’t straightforward by any means, as these places use green chiles to provide a distinctly New Mexican twist to their recipes. The little green flecks definitely spice things up a little bit — and they’re sure to leave the table next to yours green with envy, too. Wanna get your neighboring diners even more jealous? Order the green chile queso fries at Hopdoddy and qatch every head in the spot turn toward your table. Yes, it’s a deviation from the norm. But you already added green chiles to the mix, so…
The Surprises: Haystack Burgers & Barley.
Ordering queso and chips at a burger place generally means being served up some generic slop. But not at this burger joint, which quietly flashes some serious Tex-Mex chops all over its menu, from its spicy-as-hell Escabeche burger to its Taos chicken sandwich and this queso that will knock the socks off of everyone you deem cool enough to let in on this amazing little secret.
All photos by FoodBitch.