Apologies to breakfast tacos, chili and brisket, but I think queso is the national dish of Texas. Nobody does it better than Texas, and nobody has more opinions on it than Texans.
Chef Trish Eichelberger loves queso, and she knew the Alamo Drafthouse had a queso problem. Simply put: It could be better. So the Austin market chef for the popular theater got together with Drafthouse CEO and noted gastronome Tim League and reworked the recipe for the Drafthouse’s queso. They rolled it out this weekend at the Alamo Ritz and Alamo South Lamar, just in time to greet hungry South by Southwest visitors.
I had some Friday night, fittingly, at a screening of the documentary about L.A. Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. And I’m here to tell you the queso has made a marked improvement, and can now stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best queso in town. You can currently order a bowl of it with chips or try it on the Festival Burrito on the Drafthouse’s special SXSW menu (pictured left).
The previous queso, flecked with green chilies, was thin and runny. It would also easily form a top layer film in the cold theater. It wasn’t bad, necessarily, but it wasn’t remarkable. The new recipe uses the same processed cheese base you’ll find all over the state, but the recipe gets kicked up several notches with the introduction of the Drafthouse’s salsa. Instead of the mild piquancy of the green chilies, you have a smoky and robust flavor from roasted serranos and canned chipotles. The introduction of the salsa makes for a darker, spicier queso and thicker queso. The Drafthouse is slowly introducing the queso to the Austin market, currently serving it only at Ritz and South Lamar. Those theaters have also switched to thinner lighter El Milagro tortilla chips.