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Kerbey Lane Cafe queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ingrid A.

Where to find the best queso in Austin

Indulge in some of Austin's best queso—the cheesy Tex-Mex classic—at one of these local restaurants

By Cindy Brzostowski

It's hard not to fall in love with a bowl of Austin's best queso, a mouthwatering appetizer that the entire table can get behind when ordering. Hell, it’s almost considered sacrilege in this city if you’re not a fan of it. Along with scouting out the best tacos in Austin, guzzling down the best margaritas and arguing over the best barbecue in town, being a good Austinite means falling in love with this addictive, melted cheese dip. Due to queso’s incredible popularity, you’ll find this perfect dish on plenty of menus across town, but here are our favorites.

Best quesos in Austin

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lauren C. 

1. Torchy's Tacos

Restaurants Mexican West University

Torchy’s tops the list for plenty of queso lovers. Theirs is a green chile queso that comes with guacamole, cotija cheese, cilantro and the restaurant’s signature Diablo Hot Sauce—we recommend mixing up all of that goodness before digging in so you get the perfect blend of flavors with each dip. Since Torchy’s has nine locations throughout Austin, it’s easy to grab some of their queso whenever the craving strikes you—and believe us, once you’ve had a taste of it, you’ll be craving it all the time.

Kerbey Lane Cafe queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ingrid A.

2. Kerbey Lane Cafe

Restaurants Bryker Woods

Kerbey Lane takes a different approach to queso; you’ll notice that it’s distinctly paler in color compared to many of the other varieties in the city. Made with American cheese, it’s served with a dollop of guacamole and topped with some pico de gallo. Kerbey Lane’s white queso is so popular, in fact, that it’s now sold at most of the Whole Foods stores in Texas as well as in a few other states (Queso: uniting states everywhere). The restaurant also offers vegan queso and Cowboy Queso, their legendary dip mixed with black beans.

Matt's El Rancho queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Carolyn H.

3. Matt's El Rancho

Restaurants Mexican South Lamar

Matt’s El Rancho dates back all the way to 1952 when its original location opened on East 1st Street. This family-owned and operated establishment is home to the beloved Bob Armstrong Dip, which is a reference to former Texas Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong who often visited the restaurant. The story goes that Armstrong came in one day, asked for something off the menu to satisfy his hunger and the kitchen whipped up a combination of their chile con queso, taco meat and guacamole. The rest is history! Let’s all give thanks to Bob Armstrong for inspiring the creation of this delicious dip.

Magnolia Cafe queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Anthony M.

4. Magnolia Cafe South

Restaurants Cafés South River City

Magnolia Cafe’s history is intertwined with Kerbey Lane Cafe (the founders of each were once married), so it’s unsurprising that both are major players in the Austin queso game. You have two choices at Magnolia: Mag Queso and Mag Mud. The former is queso with avocado and pico de gallo, and the latter (and most popular), is all of that plus black beans. Both options are served alongside salsa.

Trudy's queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/David B.

5. Trudy's

Restaurants Mexican West University

Around since 1977, Trudy’s is a favorite in the Austin Tex-Mex rotation—and so is its queso. You can order the original chile con queso, or you can go with the Queso Especial (our pick), which includes guacamole and spicy pico de gallo. If you really want to treat yourself, we recommend adding in the beef brisket tinga, which is seasoned with a spicy chipotle and onion blend and slow mesquite smoked, for some extra oomph. In fact, you can add any of the meats they serve into your queso. Consider getting one of their famous Mexican martinis as the perfect accompaniment to your chips and dip.  

Texas Chili Parlor queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Benjamin P.

6. Texas Chili Parlor

Restaurants Arts District

Sure, you can opt for the no-frills queso at this beloved establishment, but the real thing that makes the dip here stand out is the ability to add one of the parlor’s seven different styles of chili to it. The options range from the mild X and the spicy habanero to white chili made with pork. For more customization, you can also add taco meat, guacamole and beans. Hearty, flavorful chili plus creamy, rich cheese— how could it go wrong?

Velvet Taco queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Charles Y.

7. Velvet Taco

Restaurants Global North Burnet

Ready for a wildcard? Velvet Taco is the most unusual queso on this list, a red curry coconut queso served with pickled onion and Thai basil. You won’t find anything quite like it on the menus of other taco joints, and it’s a nice option for when your stomach is craving queso but you’re looking to spice things up a little.

El Alma queso
Photograph: Joseán Daal

8. El Alma

Restaurants Mexican Bouldin

Right across the street from Butler Park and the Palmer Events Center, El Alma serves up homey, contemporary Mexican food. The place is part of the El Chile Group of restaurants, which includes other notable spots like El Chilito, Alcomar and, of course, El Chile itself. The queso you’ll find here is called Queso Blanco y Rojo, and the magic is made with spicy queso, árbol salsa, rajas (roasted poblano chile strips), onions and mushrooms. When you order it, you’ll get nice, thick tostadas to scoop up all of that tasty dip.

Tacodeli queso
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julia L.

9. Tacodeli

Restaurants Spyglass-Bartons Bluff

Tacodeli is the go-to breakfast taco joint for many an Austinite, but it’s also a great spot to grab some top queso. While they offer a regular version, we like the Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte Queso loaded with guacamole, pico de gallo and Akaushi beef picadillo. Pro tip: Get some of their award-winning Salsa Doña to enjoy in, or simply along with, the queso. The creamy jalapeño and garlic salsa is addictive and makes for the perfect way to pep up the warm, melted cheese.

Curra's Grill queso
Photograph: Courtesy Curra's Grill

10. Curra's Grill

Restaurants Mexican South River City

At Curra’s Grill, you have two options when it comes to your appetizer: the standard chili con queso and Kelly’s Queso. The difference? The first is made with ground beef, pico de gallo and guacamole. The second swaps the meat for whole black beans, and comes from the restaurant owner’s friend Kelly who would always order queso with the addition of black beans. Curra’s decided to just go ahead and slap her unique order on the menu itself. The base of both quesos is Land O’Lakes Extra Melt American Cheese—hey, it’s not like they’re trying to fool anyone.

Maudie's Cafe queso
Photograph: Tracy Rassett

11. Maudie's Cafe

Restaurants Cafés Lions

With a name like Diablo Sol Food, you know it has to be good. That’s what Maudie’s special chile con queso is called, taking the restaurant’s savory original version and adding taco beef and pico de gallo. If your heart so desires, you can also add guacamole to the dish for an extra 25-cent charge. The fiery name makes this queso seem much spicier than it actually is, so don’t be discouraged from ordering one for the table.

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