Places to Eat

Queso Hot Spots That Found Their Way Into the Hearts of Texans

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Ask most Texans what their favorite dish is, and you’ll likely hear “queso.” For those of you not yet in-the-know, queso is a thick and creamy cheese dip. Although arguing over where the best of it can be found in Texas is futile, there are some great places we can recommend. Here are three that have found their way into the hearts of those in the Lone Star State.

1. El Capataz in Laredo

Queso Hot Spots That Found Their Way Into the Hearts of Texans

Photo: Yelp/El Capataz

El Capataz was opened in 2011, serving some great craft beer along with what the local press has termed a “modern spin on Mexican classics. This particular version of queso is named “queso borracho,” It’s partially toasted, melted cheese blended with tequila chimichurri. This serving comes with sliced baguette as opposed to tortilla chips (with which we’re generally known to consume queso), but we won’t hold it against them! It’s a great way to experience something completely Texan with a twist. A review of El Capataz, prepared by Lori Moffat of Texas Monthly, spoke quite highly of this restaurant and its flare for wonderfully prepared meals. The review noted, “The food and beverage service was so well-executed that I wasn’t surprised to learn later that Chef and owner Roberto Gonzalez has both a culinary degree and experience in such highly regarded places as the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas and Le Bernardin in New York City.” Get your butt to Laredo, and get you some of that queso!

2. Kerby Lane Café in Austin

Queso Hot Spots That Found Their Way Into the Hearts of Texans

Photo: Facebook/Kerbey Lane Cafe

Kerbey Lane Café started out operating out of a small house on Kerbey Lane (hence the name) in 1980. Since then, it’s grown into an Austin favorite, and its queso is a Texas institution. Made with white cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and ground beef, this mouth-watering queso is practically a meal in and of itself. The Kerbey Lane Café now has eight Austin-area locations (with a ninth that was in the works as of last spring), to better serve its fan base, so there’s no reason why you can’t get to one relatively easily, and get your hands on this dip. An update on the eighth opening of this obvious Hill Country favorite was published by the Austin Chronicle in December 2018, saying: “Famous for their giant pancakes, queso, and carafes of mimosas, the restaurant has been slinging a wide range of other dishes, too. From enchiladas to pan-seared salmon, and with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, there’s something for everyone.”

3. Ninfa’s on Navigation in Houston

Queso Hot Spots That Found Their Way Into the Hearts of Texans

Photo: Facebook/The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation

Originally established in 1973 by “Mama” Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo, Ninfa’s on Navigation in Houston is an iconic place to eat top-quality Texas-made queso. The combination of spices and cheese that go into this dish make it worthy of the homemade tortilla chips that complement it so nicely. Houstonia referenced this establishment as the “matriarch of Tex-Mex in Houston,” and it’s been featured on none other than the Travel Channel’s popular show “Man Vs. Food.” With countless reviews and features online, a restaurant spotlight on Ninfa’s featured on 365 Things to do in Houston showcased this place and its “legendary fajitas, tasty margs, and satisfying queso…” Satisfying doesn’t begin to describe it! While you’re there sampling this delicious cheese dip, however, the review goes on to say that you can also get “an abundance of fajita choices,” together with “mouth-watering dishes like tamales and Tex-Mex combo plates alongside gourmet items from the new wood-burning grill and oven, including seasonal specials.”