Queso Critique – Texas Chili Parlor

It’s been many a fortnight since my friend and I have gone on a queso quest, so we decided to pay a little visit to the Texas Chili Parlor on Saturday night. For anyone who may not know, my friend Amanda and I taste-test chips and queso at different restaurants in the Austin, Texas area. We judge the melty cheese on its consistency and flavor, and give it a score between 0 and 5.

Texas Chili Parlor is set in the spleen of downtown Austin, so naturally, our mission began with a $20 parking garage fee.  Don’t you hate parking garages? They suck you in, spin you in circles, and then spit you out on the opposite side of the building, so you have no idea where you are. They’re like concrete tornados. They’re also creepy and shadowy and murdery.

Not once have I died in a parking garage, but I’m pretty convinced that it’ll happen one day.

After leaving the concrete pit of doom, we had a short walk to the bar, which turned out to be the diviest dives of all the dives. The word “parlor” makes me think of wicker furniture and china tea sets – and this place was the exact opposite of that, complete with a flickering Bud Light sign, and a painted mural of a jungle scene. It was perfect. To add to the ambiance, a giant TV was playing the University of Texas football game, and every time they scored, the bar blared the UT fight song from the speakers. Luckily, this didn’t happen often… if you get what I’m saying.

The menu offered several different types of chili, made with various forms of animal flesh. Upon our server’s advice, we ordered our queso containing the Red XX chili, and anxiously awaited its arrival.


Hey, Queso. How YOU doin’?

Before we mixed the chili and queso together in righteous harmony, it was important to take a few bites with only cheese. You know, for science. We both agreed that the queso had a nice cheesy flavor, but no spice. It was also rather drippy in consistency. Sans chili, this dish would’ve been ho-hum.

But the bites with chili and cheese together? An extravaganza of yum. The meat was clearly the star of the show, but the cheese was a respectable accompaniment, and together, they created beautiful music. All of my troubles melted away. I forgot all about the concrete tornado. I didn’t even touch my margarita after the food came, which should show you how distracted and in love I was.

I was fighting to keep from eating it like a soup.

This wasn’t our first experience with chili-filled queso, but this is the only one that really counts in our hearts. We gave Texas Chili Parlor an impressive 3.9 score.

The deliciousness didn’t stop there. Feeling adventurous, Amanda and I decided to order two different kinds of the Chili Mac & Cheese – one with Venison, and one with White Pork – so that we didn’t have to leave having tried only one type. Both chilis came with beans, which goes against the usual Texas tradition, though I’m not sure why.

Probably, our state just doesn’t want food to be nutritious in even the slightest of ways.

We tasted our own orders, and then quickly traded bowls and tried each other’s. It was practically an orgy of chili and cheese. If you’re disturbed by that thought, then you’ll feel even weirder to know that things got a little sweaty. No, seriously, the place was pretty warm already, and then with all the spicy chili we consumed, we got hot.

The food doesn’t look that beautiful, and the terrible lighting makes it look even worse – but it certainly tasted beautiful. The White Pork and Red XX were our favorites, with the Venison one proving somewhat inferior, yet still tasty. I will definitely be back to this place. Possibly tomorrow.


I usually post a link to the restaurant’s website, but the classy parlor doesn’t have one. If you’re new to my blog, visit The Reason for the Cheesin to understand this cheesy project.

21 thoughts on “Queso Critique – Texas Chili Parlor

    1. You shall fly down to Austin for your next meal and eat chili! And oh, what the heck – I’ll go too. Lol.

      Ugh, parking garages just encompass all the fears – darkness, aloneness, weird echoing sounds. It’s all terrible. I definitely did the whole holding-your-keys-like-a-shank strategy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll never forget the first time I parked in a garage with my kids… oh, I was freaking out! Not to mention that in the city nearest me, the garage I was in set me back $40! Ridiculous!

        And I think you and I would have a fabulous time together… with chili and queso… or whatever…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is insane! People should pay US to park in their garages, considering how creepy they are. That’s probably unreasonable. But still.

        Oh I think we would have so much fun together, Sandra! Whatever we do together, let’s agree to avoid parking garages if possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sometimes the best food is in divey places, as though restaurants with mediocre food are trying to make up for it in ambiance.

    You know, just like I only recently learned about this queso deal, I also just learned about Texans hating beans in their chili in the past year. I had NO idea this was a thing.

    I grew up thinking beans were part of what defined chili as chili, never imagining there was a different way. Weirdly, my grandfather was born and raised in Texas and I STILL had never heard of it before.

    By my cousin (the pioneering one who found out about queso first) knew all about it because she’d always heard grandpa grumbling about chili with beans not being “real chili.”

    HOW DO YOU MAKE IT THEN? Just with meat?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree that the ramshackle places sometimes have the best food. I like to think it’s because the restaurant is 100% devoted to delicious food, and don’t have time to care about things like decor.

      Yep, Texas chili is really supposed to be just meat, often topped with chopped onions and cheese. Almost any restaurant that serves chili in this state will not put beans in it. It’s funny because while I’m saying this, I realize how strange it sounds to just eat a bowl of nothing but seasoned meat. And yet – when I’m eating it, it seems totally normal! The pork chili I ate at this chili parlor actually seemed more stew-like to me, because of the added beans and chilies and things.


  2. Write This Down

    I love the Texas Chili Parlor! We’ve been a few times. I love the white chili on a giant baked potato. So good! I don’t think I ever tried the Queso there. They filmed one of the Quentin Terintino (sp?) films there. You know the one…with all the killing in it?

    I park in a parking garage daily at my work (up north). Usually it’s pretty chill, but one time, I drove in and there was a random high chair hanging out. Just a high chair, nothing else. It was the weirdest, creepiest thing ever. I high tailed it into the office.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh that sounds so delicious!! This was one of those places where I just wanted to try All The Things. Next time I go back (because I’m certain there’ll be a next time), I want to try the baked potato. Or maybe enchiladas. Maybe both.

      Haha! I’m not sure which Tarantino movie you’re referring to – but that’s really cool! I’m going to try to look that up later.

      And that high chair story is the single creepiest thing I’ve ever heard. Not even the creepiest parking garage story – just the creepiest story, period. Where did it come from? Why was it just left there? WHERE IS THE BABY?!


      1. Write This Down

        Haha, I know! It was bad. I can still see it now. It looked like the start of a horror movie. Except I didn’t go over to inspect it because that’s when the scary killer comes after you! Oh and I did research. The Tarantino movie was Death Proof. Now I’m hankering for a chili potato!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You were right not to go over to it, because the scary killer would’ve killed you, and then you wouldn’t be around to tell me about the creepy story. Haha.

        Ahh, I haven’t seen Death Proof, but now I want to just so I can irritate people by pointing out the chili parlor and yelling, “I’ve been there!”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Just in Queso! – Just in Queso

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