Who is Austin's Big Cheese?

Restaurants, caterers, individuals compete in Quesoff IV

Photo by JEALEXphoto/Jessica Alexander

Chile con queso is right up there with well-stuffed breakfast tacos and slow-smoked brisket on the list of Austin's signature dishes; everyone's got an opinion about who makes the best version. For four years now, event promoter Adi Anand has hosted a contest to answer the burning question: Who makes Austin's best queso?

Sunday afternoon, a crowd of queso-loving Austinites formed a line outside the Mohawk that stretched all the way down one block of Red River and wrapped around the hill up E. Ninth. Once inside the bar's enclosed patio area, they paid $5 for bags of chips and visited more than 20 serving stations spread out over three levels. Beer, cocktails, and live music lubricated the proceedings. It brought to mind the early days of another iconic local culinary competition, the legendary SPAMARAMA, when it was held at one of the early Soap Creek Saloon locations in South Austin.

Photo by JEALEXphoto/Jessica Alexander

The challenge was to create a queso dish in one of four categories: Meaty, Spicy, Veggie, and Wild Card. Contestants representing restaurants, catering companies, social clubs, and even individuals stayed busy serving up samples of myriad melted cheese concoctions from crock pots and steaming chafing dishes. The only thing missing was a local chip sponsor - signing on with this party would be a great opportunity for some local company

Photo by JEALEXphoto/Jessica Alexander

Based on our experience, there were a handful of really superior entries, a large middle ground of edible but unremarkable fare, a couple overwhelmed by salt, and a few in the Wild Card division that were too far outside my acceptable flavor tolerance, such as a queso ice cream with candied jalapenos, a too-chocolatey mole queso, and an espresso queso with sugary churros. I wasn't an official judge, but I was pleased to note afterwards that my favorite during the media preview came out on top.

Meaty and Best Overall: Freedman's Brisket Queso
Spicy: Queso Beso
Veggie: Frank
Wild Card: Cream Team

Congratulations to all the winners!

More Quesoff
Judges Announced for Seventh Annual Quesoff
Judges Announced for Seventh Annual Quesoff
More than 30 teams will compete in four different queso categories

Kali Venable, Aug. 2, 2017

Quesoff Wants Your Queso
Quesoff Wants Your Queso
Cheesy contest enters fifth year

Brandon Watson, May 12, 2015

More by Virginia B. Wood
Top 10 Savory Bites
Top 10 Savory Bites

Jan. 1, 2016

Open Secret
Open Secret
The not-so-hidden pleasures of dine

Dec. 25, 2015


Quesoff, the Mohawk, Adi Anand, Freedman's, Queso Beso, Frank, Cream Team

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)