100 Favorite Dishes 2013-2014: No. 25, Chips and Queso at Fusion Taco
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.
Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg I could eat this as a meal. Or drink it. Mmm.
"Are you sure you want queso, too?" asked Julia Sharaby, one of the chef/owners of Fusion Taco. "You ordered the nachos, and they have queso on them too."
"Yes," I replied firmly. "I want all the queso."
I've made it abundantly clear on this blog that I'm a queso snob. Not in the sense that I need only the finest ingredients in my queso--quite the contrary. Rather, there is a specific way I like my queso to taste, a specific texture, a specific mouthfeel. Any deviation, and I'm not interested.
I'm most often of the belief that the simple Velveeta + Ro*tel combo is pretty good. It needs little meddling. However, after discovering and then interrogating Sharaby about Fusion Taco's queso, I might change my tune.
It's still made with processed cheese, a fact Sharaby doesn't try to hide. And why should she, when she knows the queso is awesome? She does use a product that is of a higher quality than Velveeta, though. It's Golden Velvet, a Land O'Lakes product available only by wholesale. (And yes, I'm working on finding a chef in town who will secure me my own stock post-haste.)
The chips are ideal for dipping.
Sharaby likes the Golden Velvet because it has less salt than Velveeta and because, frankly (it pains me to say this), it tastes more like cheese. It has a great texture, even once it starts firming up, and it's richer than most queso dips you find in restaurants. The secret to the richness is cream.
That's right, along with Golden Velvet, Sharaby adds cream, her homemade red salsa and pulverized chipotle peppers to the queso. I am also going to need to apologize to Ro*Tel now, because this mixture puts Ro*Tel to shame.
Now, chips and queso wouldn't be chips and queso without great chips as well, and Fusion Taco definitely delivers there. The chips are fried fresh as needed, so they're warm and crispy when you order them. They're made from the same thick corn tortillas that surround the tacos, and when fried they're substantial enough to hold a big ol' scoop of queso. Combine the two, and I'm in Tex-Mex heaven.
Sharaby jokingly called her queso "white trash fondue" when I ordered a glass of red wine to go with it, but this stuff is good enough to put even fondue to shame. Just don't tell Gruyère I said that.
See the full list of favorites on the next page.