I tried 50+ quesos in Austin in order to write this blog post, and I’m confident that it’s THE only guide you need to find the best queso in Austin.
Austinites are passionate about their queso. It’s not hard to fall in love with this popular appetizer: it’s made from ooey-gooey melted cheese, some peppers and tomatoes for flavors, and then any combination of chorizo, guacamole, black beans, ground beef, or other toppings to round out the dish. Queso is typically served with a side of tortilla chips, but tostadas, sweet potato chips, plantains, or other dipping devices can be used.
But hey….have a really strong opinion about a queso I left off the list? Feel free to leave a comment below!
A Guide To The Best Queso In Austin Texas
1. The very best queso in Austin: Torchy’s Tacos
Surprised? I was! I spent months trying SO many chips and queso around Austin, and Torchy’s Green Chile Queso, this super common queso that I’ve had dozens of times, remained at the top of my list.
Here’s why: Torchy’s Tacos has mastered the art of texture + toppings. Their queso is the perfect, thick, melty consistency and it’s never too thin OR too goopy. The toppings (guacamole, cilantro, cotija cheese, and oooh that Diablo sauce) are the right balance of salty + spicy.
The chips, granted, are nothing to call home about. But they’re good enough, and this queso is available all over Austin (and beyond!) so it’s easy to grab at a moment’s notice.
1822 S Congress, Austin TX 78704
2. Queso with the best chips: El Alma
Holy moly, it was SO hard to find exceptional chips alongside a really good queso! Lots of places serve these flimsy, store-bought chips that break into pieces when you try to get a healthy dunk of queso. And other places made their own hot, thick, salty homemade tortillas….and then only offered them with queso fundido, but not with the dipping queso. 🙁
El Alma, though, makes these insanely delicious tostadas that are served with their Queso Blanco y Rojo. Bonus: it’s discounted during happy hour!
1025 Barton Springs Rd, Austin TX 78704
3. Best loaded queso: Valentina’s Brisket Queso
Listen: if you’re gonna get queso at a barbecue joint, get that queso loaded with brisket. This is one of the most decadent, rich, delicious quesos I’ve ever tasted in Austin. It could be a full meal by itself!
Psst: Here’s another good good loaded queso to try in Austin: get the Pastrami Loaded Queso at Better Half Bar. WEBSITE here.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ
11500 Manchaca Rd, Austin TX 78748
4. Best drive-thru queso: Fresa’s
I searched so hard to find a good drive-thru queso (they were all pretty pathetic,) and then an instagram follower kindly pointed out to me that I had already tried one: Fresa’s!
I typically go to the South First location, which doesn’t have a drive-thru. But Fresa’s offers their same menu at the drive-thru location on North Lamar! You can get their delicious Totally Loaded Queso (black beans, guac, chorizo, pico de gallo, queso fresco, salsa bruja) on the days when getting out of your car seems like much too big a feat.
Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon
915 N Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78703
5. Best Black Bean Queso: Mag Mud at Magnolia Cafe
Black beans in queso…you either love it or you hate it, but if you’re a fan and you’re looking for the KING of black bean queso, the Mag Mud at Magnolia Cafe is for you.
The black beans are placed at the bottom of the bowl, so on first inspection it looks like a regular bowl of queso. But give a nice big stir, and all of those beans get distributed into the queso and turn it into “mud.”
think that the extra protein in black bean queso makes it a little more hearty when queso ends up being all I eat for dinner. Uh…not that I’ve ever done that…
1920 S. Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704
6. Best Queso Blanco: Vamanos
Queso blanco is made with white American cheese, so it’s a little less tangy and a little more mild. It makes a great backdrop to add beef and peppers, which is exactly what Vamanos adds to their Ranch Style Queso Blanco.
This appetizer is discounted during happy hour, so swing by with your gal pals and load up on queso and margaritas!
Dolce Neve Gelato
4807 Airport Blvd, Austin TX 78751
7. Best Vegetarian Queso: Joann’s Fine Foods
We’re not talking about vegan queso (yet), so this one is still full of dairy. But if you’re vegetarian and hunting for a fantastic, flavorful queso, please try the signature Joann’s Queso with tomatillo molcajete, soyrizo, and the most amazing, homemade, super-crunchy tostadas!
And hey…if you’re not vegetarian, you’re probably still enjoy this queso. The soyrizo is mixed throughout, and it gives a subtle salty, umami flavor that doesn’t taste like fake meat at all.
1224 S Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704
8. Best Vegan Queso: Credo Vegan Queso at Guero’s Taco Bar
I tried a lot of vegan quesos in Austin, and most of them taste like super thick potato soup, or they’re loaded with tons of soy and felt rubbery. (Yuck.)
Credo Vegan Queso, though, was launched by a vegan family who couldn’t find a vegan queso that they liked, so they made their own! It’s a pretty good replica for dairy-based queso, and I like that the one they offer at Guero’s is nice and spicy!
Dolce Neve Gelato
1412 S Congress Ave, Austin TX 78704
9. Best unique queso flavor: Red Curry Coconut Queso at Velvet Taco
Nope, it’s not an Austin original, but Velvet Taco still serves up one of my favorite unique twists on queso: their Red Curry Coconut Queso is so good!
It’s full of curry flavor, pickled onion, queso fresco, and Thai basil, and served with with blue tortilla chips.
Also try: The Tikka Con Queso (add lamb!) at Nasha India. Such a fun culture twist on queso! WEBSITE
11501 Rock Rose Ave Suite 160, Austin TX 78758
10. Best destination queso: Grizzelda’s
We all know that Grizzelda’s is one of the cutest Tex-Mex restaurants to with #allthevibes, and the queso at Grizzelda’s is a crowd favorite. Although it’s not on the happy hour menu, it’s worth making dinner reservations with a group of friends and grabbing some queso as an appetizer to enjoy with your first margarita, because this queso is just that good.
105 Tillery Stt, Austin TX 78702
11. Best classic Austin queso: Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt’s El Rancho
You have to admit that the Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt’s El Rancho is a classic. Rumor has it that Bob Armstrong was a regular at Matt’s El Rancho when it opened in the 1950s, and he once went into the kitchen and asked the chef to make him “something different.” The chef put guacamole and ground beef into the queso, and Bob Armstrong loved it and put his name on it.
Lots of other restaurants serve the same thing (and even put the “Bob Armstrong” name on it!), but it started right here at Matt’s El Rancho.
Matt’s El Rancho
2613 S Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78704
12. Best free queso: Chuy’s Nacho Car Queso
Show me a University of Texas student who hasn’t taken advantage of Chuy’s free queso at least once… Granted, this queso isn’t all that gastronomically inclined, but it’s FOR ZERO DOLLARS on weekdays from 4-7.
Show up, buy a cheap margarita, and enjoy free queso to your heart’s content. We’ve all done it at least once.
1728 Barton Springs Rd, Austin TX 78704
13. Best Happy Hour Queso: Chunky Layered Queso at Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Get this beauty for 50% off during happy hour! The “Layered Chunky Queso” is a rich dip of queso, green chile pulled pork, and guacamole. My only complaint is that the serving size is small…I want it to be twice as big, because this stuff is so good!
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
7720 TX-71, Austin TX 78735
Let me conclude by saying this: it’s pretty hard to mess up queso. Even the very worst quesos I tried during this queso search were ridiculously addicting. I mean, it’s hot melted cheese served with salty fried chips! What’s not to love?
So, if I didn’t include you very favorite queso on this list, just know that I still love you. And I bet that queso is awesome in its own way, and it’s still worthy of your devotion.
Also, I didn’t include queso fundido in this post, although there are some mighty fine ones in Austin! That’s a completely different food group than queso + chips, and when I’m craving queso, fundido isn’t going to cut it.
Here are just a few more quesos that I happen to love in Austin:
Kerbey Lane’s Classic Queso: I’ve noticed that ask for the best queso in Austin, about 1 in 5 people will scream, “Kerbey Lane!” It’s a solid, noteworthy queso that’s available at one of their numerous Austin locations. I’ve eaten it many times and I have zero complaints. WEBSITE
Polvos Queso: They serve all of the toppings on the side, and you can mix in whatever looks tasty. I like the customizable feature to this queso! (I’m not a fan of raw onions in my queso, so I always leave those out.) WEBSITE
TacoDeli: I knoooow I’m making some of you mad by not putting this at the top of the list, but I don’t think TacoDeli’s queso deserves the same amount of attention as Torchy’s. (I mean…they serve their chips in sealed plastic bags, and that’s weird.) And even though their regular queso is quite dull and lackluster, I believe the Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte Queso is worth mentioning because it’s so darn flavorful with that guacamole, pico de gallo, and HeartBrand Akaushi beef picadillo mixed in! WEBSITE
El Dorado Cafe: This is my new favorite North Austin Tex-Mex restaurant, and their queso is good! Be sure to spend the extra $1 and upgrade the regular queso to the “Supa Queso” that’s spiked with black beans, pico de gallo, and guacamole. WEBSITE