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Chile con Queso in Austin

It could be a campus spot with Extra Melt and Pickled Jalapenos...or it could be Queso Flameado from a Mexican Heavyhitter...the only thing that matters,really,is how does it taste? Just to get the ball rolling:What are y'alls thoughts on Janitzio's version on Riverside Drive.It's a bouillion bowl of spicy love.

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  1. Dunno Janitzio's.

    I'll admit to being a fool for Chuy's Queso Compuesto.

    1. My wife and I consume too much queso. We sometimes ruin meals because of it. We freaking love queso. We tend to be fans of a plain, smooth queso with lossa stuff tossed in.

      Polvo's brings you a plate of goodies (picadillo beef, fresh chopped japs, guacamole, pico) that you add in to suit your own taste. If you haven't tried this yet, leave wherever you are as soon as you read this, go there now, and order it.

      Curra's queso is good and loaded with tasty bits, and their vegetarian chorizo variant is good too. Sometimes I think I'm getting a potato bit -- rare, but delicious! Then I think, "Nahhh! There couldn't really be potato bits in here, could there? Probably just a chunk of onion that has been floating around long enough that it had been drained of onionyness..."

      Guero's queso is nondescript (although solid), but you can hit the free refill pico to load it up with juicy, fruity tomatobits! This is especially good for my wife, who sometimes treats queso as a vector for tomatoes.

      Finally, Matt's El Rancho is a seriously over-rated joint, but the Bob Armstrong Dip is possibly the most consistently excellent quesoesque treat in town. Titanic and unmatchable. If you plan on eating a full meal after your large Bob, come hungry.

      Finally, my only queso warning: Evita's Botanitas, while having a diverse and exciting salsa wheel, has queso that can only be descibed as "ballpark queso". This semisolid orange sludge must be thinned with salsa and pico to be consumed; even then, you could probably do as well at home with a brick of velveeta.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tom in austin

        Tom, that's because you ordered the wrong queso. Get the queso flameado with chorizo next time... it's a grease ball, but pretty tasty.

        1. re: catarata

          My great shame as an eater: I deeply prefer the gringo chile con queso (creamy, gloopy, yellow) to the greasy, lumpy queso flameado-style queso (thick, stringy, greasy, near-white).

          I like flameado, don't get me wrong. I'll happy throw stringy, greasy wads of cheese (peppered with onions, peppers, cactus, what have you) on fresh tortillas and jam them down.

          But maybe because of my upbringing, I prefer the Americanized variant. And to my shame, many places I don't otherwise like have great chile con queso (by my metric). And many places I *love* have no gringo chile con queso at all!

          What to do?! Other than continue to jam queso down my piehole, I mean...

          1. re: tom in austin

            As mentioned above, I agree the best Americanized queso is at Polvo's and also Los Pino's. Both are done the same way - stereotypical creamy yellow beginnings, but is brought out with lots of potential additions; onion, cilantro, greasy chili meat, guac, etc. LOVE that.

      2. OK Tom...you've got me ready for a Queso run when I am in Austin next summer for the music products convention. Your list would allow me to visit all the places I've wanted to. Add Chuy's to the mix for my beloved Queso Compuesto, and I'm betting we can fully clog our arteries in one evening.

        Up for it?

        1. Thanks for the reports....how about some more obscure tips? Surely there's a beat up transmission shop outside Bastrop where the owner's grandma comes in on Friday night and sells El Presidente flamed Queso Blanco? Do y'all know a place that flames the queso at the table?

          1. When I get a craving for real Mexican Queso Flameado, I go to La Palapa. http://www.lapalapaaustin.com/index.htm

            1. I've had the flameado at La Palapa - it is good. The now closed Mexican Place near the Alamo Village actually had wonderful flameado (about the only thing there that I liked).

              Now, for the best Tex Mex, typical, chile con queso: El Patio. They fry their own tostadas. Have it with guacamole salad and a beer.

              1. Green Chile Queso at Torchy's. Outstanding and very spicy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: LakeLBJ

                  I second the Torchy's queso. It has great garnishes--guac, pico, queso fresco, and their "diablo" sauce. It does not have that plasticy/elastic quality that many quesos have, though as I recall the chef told me it is velveeta based. I also give Torchy's props for their chips, which are thin and crispy and fried in-house (or trailer, whatever). not granular and cold like you get at a lot of places.
                  I have ended up at Matt's El Rancho on many evenings because it is near my house, open late, and I often haven't figured out that it's time to eat until almost ten. While I agree that it is over-rated and generally over-populated, there are a few things that I like in a late-evening pinch. First, I prefer to sit at the bar where there are not so many people. The "Bob" dip is a reliably good queso, and I also like their nachos. Both of these appys are good because of the chips, which are the big, half-of-a-corn-tortilla kind. They are thick and crispy and usually hot, some of my favorite in town. They are substantial and don't break off in a hearty dip like the Bob. (The same can not, unfortunately, be said for Torchy's chips, which are notoriously fragile) Matt's chips are the type that I wish I could cut and paste with the better elements of other restaurants to cobble together a perfect Tex-Mex fantasy.

                  1. re: tipsytexan

                    I have to third Torchy's. It's thin, spicy, and packed with green chiles. The queso fresco on top is also really nice.

                    I live far too close to Torchy's for my own good...

                2. Absolutely love the Hongos Guisados at Manuel's. Add a little salsa to the tortillas and it's a real winner.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amysuehere

                    The queso flameado at Angie's is outstanding and drool worthy. I love the spiciness of the chorizo mixed in. The Mag Mud is a really satisfying dish. The Kerbey Queso leaves a bit to be desired. I will say that I'm secretly a fan of the queso compuesto at Waterloo.

                  2. Not American yellow nor flameado style, I personally dig the queso at La Morada at MoPac and Parmer. Reminds me of the stuff at Los Tios in Houston. Oniony and cheesy. Yum.

                    1. Slightly off-topic, perhaps, but where can I get the best "plain-old" Chili?

                      I'm downtown w/o a car but "will take cab for good chili".

                      I see there's a nearby place called the Texas Chili Parlor, for starters...

                      Thanks in advance.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: CFByrne

                        I like Chili Parlour but it may just be romantic with little substance. THe restaurant has a lot of history in Austin. The chili is "old school Texas" (meat and seasoning - no vegetables) and offered at at least three different heat levels. They offer a few other items made with chili, as well.

                        Believe it or not, Texas Land and Cattle actually makes a decent Texas Chili... a little on the mild side (get some tabasco) and no vegetables, but I suspect there is a little tomato sauce in there.

                        I, too, would love to know of another local joint for Texas style chili.

                        1. re: CFByrne

                          Texas Chili Parlor for sure. But make sure you a true hot pepper lover if you get the XXX.

                          1. re: amykragan

                            I did end up going to Texas Chili Parlor and it was just what I was looking for. Lots of character, good chili, cold beer, and a counter/bar where singles can eat. Crowd was lively and good atmosphere on the March Friday night I was there.

                            As a hot food lover I ordered a sampler of the XXX. About 30 minutes and 3 Shiner Bocs later I'd had my heat fix and downgraded to the XX for a Bowl. This still packed some punch but at that point was just right.

                            I'd recommend this place highly for chili lovers.

                        2. Are there any good updates to this queso thread? Will be in town in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking for the best chips and queso I can find. Preferably spicy, and not orange in color.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: durhamois

                            Another vote for Torchy's! I mix in their Diablo sauce and it's fantastic!

                            1. re: durhamois

                              I'm sticking with Hongos at Manuels and adding Hongos at Pinos.

                            2. Speaking of queso, help me out because I need a gift. who was it that sold / sells "Body By Queso" shirts? That tex mex place on the north side of west 5th just off of mopac as you go toward downtown?