Queso Beso sounds like a funny restaurant name, like one you wouldn't want to say out loud, but when entering this spot in the heart of the downtown, your focus can go elsewhere.
The remodel of this space was executed well, bringing in an extreme amount of welcomed light compared with the former restaurant here.
Queso Beso opened Dec. 13, and the few weeks it’s been open, it’s provided a menu with some expected items (enchiladas, tacos, etc.) and plenty of booze.
Cocktails include ranch water ($9), a house margarita ($9) and more creative options — like snake oil with Lunazul reposado, cap corse and orange bitters ($10). It’s nice to see no $15 cocktails at a downtown restaurant.
Chips arrive with a lime salt, offering an extra kick of acidity that almost doesn’t jibe with the nearby fresh salsa. But that salsa’s deep enough in flavor to keep using those chips as a vehicle.
Those tortilla chips do, however, work well with the queso blanco compuesto ($10). The queso alone is good, thick and robust, addicting and unfortunately filling since you can’t stop eating it. This one has chorizo hiding in the bottom and is topped with guacamole, crema and green onion. Even that guacamole is good — frequently when we get that on such a plate, it’s not the freshest, what you’d get as a standalone. This one was.
Filling up on this with a sangria ($9) is definitely part of an afternoon in my future.
But on this visit, we kept going. You can get a number of combination plates, including No. 2, the Ricardo: a choice of enchilada, a flauta de pollo, a choice of taco and rice and beans ($16). The cheese enchilada tastes like ones I’ve had at home, simply rolled and coming off completely fresh. The picadillo beef taco comes in a fried corn tortilla, warm and just-crispy, along with cheddar cheese. The dill pickles, while fine alone, were kind of an odd addition here.
One problem: That promised flauta never arrived — something we didn’t realize, unfortunately, until after we left the restaurant and consulted the bill.
The chile relleno is huge, enough to share or enough to take some home — which you won’t mind because it’s a pretty good experience. It leans just a bit sweet, complemented by plenty of cheese, just a hint of spice and mushrooms. I’d suggest mentioning that last ingredient on the menu, as it’s not expected, and some folks hate those with a passion. I’m not one and loved it; they offer another heartiness to the commonly simple cheesy dish. The refried black beans on this plate were flavorful, offering a surprise of smokiness in flavor.
Other items include a shrimp diablo ($18), braised chicken in mole ($16) and various taco and enchilada plates.There’s a red chile pozole ($6) as well as a jicama-mango chile salad ($10). Queso fundido will also be part of our order next time, too ($10).
Overall, there’s enough here that makes us want to come back. For one, it’s nice to see this spot utilized so well with good aesthetics (though it’s unsurprising since it’s from Tim Headington). It’s quite a step up from the kinds of dining options we had downtown compared to when this writer first moved to this neighborhood 10 years ago.
Queso Beso, 1525 Main St. (downtown). 214-922-7510. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.