Downtown Austin’s 6 Best Bowls of Queso

Everyone knows Torchy’s does queso right. And if you haven’t had the Mag Mud at Magnolia Cafe, you should stop reading this article and take care of that immediately. But what about Downtown queso? What about when you’re three 6th Street margaritas in when your queso craving hits? Fear not. To ensure you’re never stranded and queso-less in the heart of the city, I did the research, I ate the cheese, and I’m spreading the word: there are plenty of great bowls of queso to be found all over the neighborhood! Here are my top 6 picks, in no particular order.

Editors note: If you live in Austin, chances are good that when you think of queso, you think of a bowl of molten lava cheese perfect for the dipping of chips and, let’s be honest, fingers. Rightfully so! But that liquid gold, otherwise known as chile con queso, isn’t the only queso in town. There’s a thicker, heartier spin on the old classic called queso fundido, or alternatively queso flameado, that’s one of the best things on earth to spoon generously into a warm tortilla. For this cheesy roundup, I decided to include both types of queso, because if queso fundido is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

La-Condesa-Queso

La Condesa

Would you just look at that bubbly charred top? La Condesa’s Queso Flameado is a beauty. This isn’t liquid chips-and-dip queso. This is gooey, stretchy, spoon-into-a-warm-tortilla queso flameado, and it’s life-changing. La Condesa makes theirs with a traditional cheese mix as well as Pur Luck chèvre (that’s goat cheese!) for some extra tang. Plus, they top it off with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime to kick it up a notch. Scratch that. Five notches. It’s got an amazingly rich flavor and is one of my absolute favorites Downtown.

Order like a pro: Queso Flameado and tortillas with an extra lime, and an Alma Blanca Margarita. 

La Condesa
400A W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 499-0300

Manuels-Queso-3

Manuel’s

The chile con queso at Manuel’s, made from queso blanco melted with tomatoes, onions, and poblano peppers, is pretty tough to beat. Served in a covered bowl, it arrives piping hot and begging to be devoured. Not that it needs to. A touch thicker than traditional chile con queso, but not as dense as queso fundido, Manuel’s version feels like the perfect middle ground. Plus, it has an incredible, fresh flavor that you can only get from real, quality cheese. There is nothing artificial about this bowl of goodness.

Order like a pro: Chile con Queso with flour and corn tortillas, and The 310-Manuel’s Signature Margarita. 

Manuel’s
310 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 472-7555

Lamberts-Queso

Lamberts Downtown Barbeque

I know. When you find yourself at Lambert’s, you’re there for the amazing barbecue, not for a bowl of cheese. And while I’d never in a million years dream of deterring you from ordering a plate of their wild boar ribs, I would encourage you to start off with a bowl of their unbelievably creamy queso. Lambert’s queso has a delicious, subtle green chile flavor, and is served with a side of jalapeños, along with some of the best tortilla chips I’ve tasted. Trust me. It’s the perfect pre-barbecue snack.

Order like a pro: Roasted Green Chili Queso with extra jalapeños, and a Pineapple Mint Julep. Then barbecue. And lots of it.

Lamberts Downtown Barbeque
401 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 494-1500

ElSolYLaLuna-Queso

El Sol y La Luna

There are two quesos on the menu at El Sol y La Luna. They’re both delicious (because they’re both bowls of cheese), but their Queso Fundido is the star of the show. Made with melted Chihuahua cheese and roasted poblano peppers, this queso knocks it out of the park for both texture and taste. The roasted poblanos pack in the rich, smoky flavor and the pico de gallo brightens it all up perfectly. Spooned into a warm tortilla, this queso is addicting. Dangerously addicting. Consider yourself warned.

Order like a pro: Queso Fundido with flour and corn tortillas, and a Cucumber Margarita.

El Sol y La Luna
600 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 444-7770

Benjis-Queso

Benji’s Cantina

Benji’s Queso Blanco is everything I love about a traditional bowl of queso: it’s rich, it’s creamy, and it left me wanting to lick the bowl spotlessly clean. Made with a mix of three cheeses melted into béchamel sauce, Benji’s Queso Blanco is so velvety and smooth it should be served with a straw. Instead, it’s served the next best way: in a cast iron bowl that sits over a flame, ensuring your last bite is just as hot and delicious as the first. Plus, if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, you can order it loaded with black beans, green chile chicken, avocado, and pico de gallo. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

Order like a pro: Queso Blanco with green salsa, and an El Gigante Verde margarita.

Benji’s Cantina
716 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 751-8002

Fado-Queso

Fadó Irish Pub

This Irish take on queso may never be accepted as true queso by all the traditionalists out there, and that’s ok. In fact, Fadó doesn’t even refer to it as queso. And those aren’t tortilla chips on the plate; those little triangles of heaven are Irish potato pancakes called boxtys. But there’s no denying that this is one incredible bowl of melted cheese, so I had no choice but to include it in my roundup. Fadó’s queso (yeah, I said it) is made from a mixture of cheddar, pepper jack, and green onions. I won’t ask you to call it queso, but I will ask you to try it. And I’ll definitely ask you to save some for me.

Order like a pro: Cheese Dip and Wedges, and The Fadó Jameson and Ginger.

Fadó Irish Pub
214 W 4th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 457-0172

And that’s a wrap! Be sure to check back for my next post: The Top 6 Downtown Spots to Take a Three-Hour Nap.

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