Queso may seem like a simple cheese sauce, but the dish is difficult to perfect – just ask Chipotle. Luckily, D.C. restaurants have found recipes that work.
Chipotle launched queso as a menu option Tuesday, but hundreds of customers have relayed their disappointment about the sauce on social media. The queso includes “cheddar cheese, jalapeno peppers, tomatillos, spices and other real ingredients” and comes in four different sizes. Customers can sample the sauce on their meal ($1.25), on the side ($2.28), with chips ($3.64) or with the newly available large chips ($5.91).
Queso is the crown jewel of Tex-Mex food, but Chipotle’s effort at the highly caloric and mildly addictive sauce misses the mark. The restaurant highlights their inclusion of peppers and spices, but the queso is bland with no fire and the texture is more appropriate for an arts and crafts project than for consumption. Served lukewarm in a small cup, a customers wallet is better off asking for cheese on the side to microwave at home.
Skip Chipotle’s lukewarm, flavorless attempt at cheese sauce and try these restaurants in and around the District:
At $3.25 for a small and $6 for a large, District Taco’s queso is high quality for it’s low price and quick convenience. The dip has a classic yellow tint and the rich heaviness of traditional queso, but the best part of District Taco’s chips and dip is the texture. Unlike Chipotle’s version, the District Taco queso is creamy and thick – exactly like queso should be. The queso lacks the bells and whistles of traditional Tex-Mex food, like large chips already soaked in the dip or paprika dusted on the surface, but District Taco’s version rivals the authentic cuisine itself.
1919 M St., NW.
Oyamel’s queso goes beyond the typical queso recipe. The “Queso Fundido con Tequila” feeds the entire table for just $8, although adding chorizo for $2 is a must. Designed by chef José Andrés, every dish on the Oyamel menu explodes with flavor and the queso is no different. The mild Chihuahua cheese complements the spices in the poblano peppers and crumbly chorizo. The homemade, thin tortillas served alongside the queso are the perfect size to dive into the skillet dip and pile queso and chorizo high on top. Though not a traditional recipe for queso, Oyamel’s version manages to capture the richness of the dish and customizes it to fit their menu.
401 Seventh St., NW.
Texas Jack’s Barbecue
Located in Arlington, Texas Jack’s Barbecue is a short hike from Foggy Bottom but deserves a visit. Their queso is so popular that most of their menu of pulled pork and ribs offer the option to drizzle their signature cheese on top. The chips and queso go for $6 as an appetizer – a steal for the large serving – and serve about six people, but the taste is so good you’d be willing to pay more. Although the pure white color may be off-putting to a queso connoisseur, the dish tastes like traditional queso dishes. The texture is so creamy and well-blended that a greasy film barely materializes on top. If true queso in the area is a priority, call an Uber and take a trip to Texas Jack’s Barbecue.
2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington, Va.