Places to Eat

Queso: Hill Country Restaurants Serve it Best

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Tony Maples Photography


Queso, or chili con queso, is a must for Texans who love Tex-Mex, but a Texan may not have created the first bowl. Beg your pardon? Not Texas? Some claim the dip originated in Arkansas. No one knows for sure where the renowned dish was invented or who came up with the idea, but no matter where it first appeared, it remains a Texas favorite.

This basic cheese dip is made by melting cheese and adding chili peppers. Multiple recipes for this side dish exist, some more likable than others. You’ll find this appetizer on the menu in every Mexican restaurant. Sample the varieties and then decide which one you like best. Some recipes call for meat mixed in with the cheese, while other recipes are meatless. You’ll discover a few chefs add tomatoes or onions. Most Texans have their designated place when the queso craving hits. Here are three family-owned places in the Hill Country with outstanding queso. Make a point to try them all and let us know your favorite.

1. Mi Tierra Café & Bakery

Photo: Facebook/Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery

In San Antonio, visit the family-owned eatery, Mi Tierra Café & Bakery. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day and located on Produce Row in San Antonio. Pedro and Cruz Cortez opened the first three table eatery in 1941, and now children and grandchildren carry on the tradition of fine food. They serve queso as a cheese dip, but you can order chorizo or beef added to it. Chorizo is a pork sausage. Choosing the main course is difficult. So many choices.

After your queso at Mi Tierra, you’ll find delicious entrees and a bakery. Yummy stuff.  You won’t leave San Antonio hungry. Now let’s go to Austin.

2. Matt’s El Rancho

Photo courtesy of Michael Black of Matt’s El Rancho

Matt’s El Rancho in Austin is another place not to miss. Located on South Lamar, Matt’s is an Austin institution, and they’ve been family-owned for 65 years. Matt Martinez began selling homemade tamales at the age of six in a pushcart in front of the Texas Capitol. They continue to make everything from scratch, and their delicious queso has seasoned taco meat topped off with a scoop of guacamole. Are you hungry yet? Keep in mind, Matt’s is closed on Tuesday. Ready to head to Fredericksburg?

3. Hilda’s Tortillas Restaurant and Bar

Photo: Pixabay

Hilda’s Tortillas Restaurant and Bar, located in Fredericksburg, is not only a restaurant but a tortilla factory. You know their chips are fresh!  They sell about 700 pounds of chips each year. We Texans love our chips. We enjoy them with queso, salsa, and guacamole. What’s your favorite accompaniment for your chips?

Those fresh chips make a tasty crunch with Hilda’s queso. Try them with beans and rice, too. Hilda adds spicy salsa to her dip for an extra kick. Hilda Bopp has been feeding residents and tourists for over thirty years. When you’re in Fredricksburg, stop and say hello to the friendly staff.

Texans love Tex-Mex, and we aren’t short on choices down here, especially in the Hill Country. If you’ve never tried Tex-Mex, visit us. We believe we have the best.