My mom looks across the table and screams, “Don’t do that, Ali!”. I didn’t know why my mom was upset but her next command cleared up my confusion “Go wash your hands now!Five year old me had one goal in my mind and wanted to complete it as fast as possible At the time, I didn’t realize taking your hand and dipping it in a pot of hot cheese, known affectionately as queso to most, and licking that hand clean was not the proper way of enjoying this dish. Just like me, many Houstonians have had an experience with and understand the happiness that is queso.
In order to figure out which Mexican restaurant serves up the best queso in town, the staff of The Falcon preformed a taste test focusing on the restaurants that Kinkaid students visit frequent: Chuy’s, Molinas, Torchy’s, Escalante’s, and Armando’s. We ranked the quesos from 1-10 in five different categories: creaminess, spiciness, uniqueness, chip quality, and overall taste. Here are the results:
Armando’s: Armando’s came in last place, with an average score of 6.08 in the overall taste category. Their chile con queso is traditional and simple: red chilies blended into the cheese. The restaurant itself is an upscale tex-mex dining experience, and on Thursday nights after 9 p.m. the main dining area transforms into a dance floor. The restaurant’s most popular dishes include the signature fajitas and queso flameado which is prepared table side, so when going to Armando’s skip the chile con queso and instead put on a pair of dance shoes and enjoy some queso flameado if you are feeling cheesy
Molina’s: Molina’s Jose Dip came in fourth place. Molina’s puts a spin on traditional queso by blending regular queso with spicy taco meat. The restaurant has strong roots in Houston and was founded in 1941 by Tex-mex food pioneer Raul Molina, who helped establish the Tex-Mex scene in Houston. So if you are a meat lover looking for some queso with a rich history head on over to one their two locations: 7901 Westheimer or 3801 Bellaire.
Chuy’s: Receiving an average overall taste score of 7.19, Chuy’s queso came in third place. It is important to note that despite the low overall taste score, it’s light and thin tortilla chip received a high score in chip quality. Chuy’s is a casual, fast paced restaurant that offers a variety of Tex-Mex dishes. Originally located in Austin, in the 2000’s, Chuy’s started to branch out and has even opened up restaurants outside of Texas. The restaurant is famous for each location having unique and cool decor. In addition, it serves moderately priced delicious cuisine. The most popular items on the menu are the queso, a mixed blend of cheeses served with a fresh green chile and ranchero sauce, the creamy jalapeno dip, originally an off-the-menu item, and the Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom enchiladas, chicken and cheese enchiladas served in a cheese sauce
Torchy’s: Torchy’s green chile queso, topped with guacamole, cotija cheese, cilantro, and diablo sauce earned second place. The queso overall did very well in the taste test and received top scores in three of the five categories: spiciness, uniqueness, and chip quality. Like Chuy’s, Torchy’s was started in Austin. Founder Mike Rypka decided to spend his life savings investing in three things: a Vespa, a food trailer, and tacos. His tacos soon became so popular that he was able to move into an actual restaurant location, but his restaurants remain causal and fast. The menu of Torchy’s includes a variety of different tacos famous for their creativity and unique names. The restaurant is so big that it now has five different locations in Houston alone, each of which serve up the famous, spicy, and unique queso dip.
Escalante’s: Escalante’s received an overall taste score of 9.03, making it the best queso out of the five restaurants. In addition to a high overall taste score, it also got the top score in creaminess (9.23). Escalante’s queso is known as “queso blanco” and is a simple queso made with plain white cheese and onions. The restaurant itself is very popular within the Kinkaid community and has a location that is only two minutes away from campus, so if you are ever craving some creamy, white, traditional style queso head on over.