Before we could begin our humble journey, we had to come up with the all-important standards by which the quesos would be judged. Since we were clearly embarking on some formal educational research here, we knew it was best to start by defining the terms:
- Consistency – refers to the thickness of the queso-y goodness. The ideal queso has a creaminess to it – no thin, watery cheeses welcome here. On the other hand, the queso should not be so thick that it breaks the chip, which is a very sad occurrence. Some quesos start out with seemingly perfect consistency, only to harden as they cool. Not okay.
- Cheesiness – I think this one speaks for itself. We want to be punched in the face with cheese. A light slap in the face simply will not do.
- Spice/Flavor – Despite our demands for a strong cheese flavor, we don’t want cheese to be the only thing we taste. That’s not what queso is supposed to be about. There definitely needs to be some sort of salsa or spice involved.
- Bonus – extra pointage given to any queso that contains delicious extra ingredients, without us having to go and ask for them like peasants. Possible extras: guacamole, chorizo (or other meat), bell peppers, onion, etc.
Initially, the quesos were scored on a 10-point rating scale, until one day, a scary dragon came along and informed the Amandas that their rating system didn’t make a lot of sense. The Amandas were annoyed at first, but then they realized that the dragon had a point, and decided to make some changes to the scoring method.
Then, the women and the dragon all lived happily ever after in a cheese-filled world.
Basically, we started to realize that we were way over-scoring things – for example, quesos we didn’t even like that much (and didn’t plan to eat again) were given a 5. Quesos that we liked okay, but that weren’t anything special, were given a 6.8.
That just doesn’t make much sense, numbers-wise. We needed a whey better system. Just in queso we become famous.
So, being the cheese nerd that I am, I pored over our previous reviews with new considerations. What was it that made each queso yummy? What were the flaws? Was the queso decent on all criteria, or did it perhaps excel in one area, while having major flaws in another?
How did the queso make us feel about ourselves?
I won’t even go into the math that we used to scale everything down to a 0-5 range – partly because I confused even myself, and partly because I’m a little embarrassed that we got THAT involved into cheese judging.
And by embarrassed, I mean wryly proud.
Take a gander at the revised scoring system:
0 = So bad, we didn’t want to finish it. Massive flaws, with no redeeming qualities. If this cheese were a movie, it’d be Paul Blart: Mall Cop
1 = Dish was okay enough to finish, but is quite disappointing. Probably wouldn’t eat it again.
2 = Tasty, and would order again, but is majorly lacking in some way (consistency is way too thin, or has no spice)
2.5 = “Baseline” – falls right in the middle. No real problems, is fine on all criteria, but is nothing fancy. If it could wear clothes, it’d have on a t-shirt and jeans. No top hats here.
3 = Solidly good, may excel in one area, but, like overbearing mothers, we’re still able to point out ways it could be improved.
4 = “Kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic.” Excels on most criteria and tastes so delicious that I resent having to share it. More than likely has “extras” of some sort (meat, guacamole, etc)
4.5 = Can’t think of any tweaks to make it better, but still not given a 5 in order to leave “wiggle room” for potentially better quesos that may not even exist
5 = Perfect score that may never be reached. The Holy Grail of cheese.
(If you’re wondering why some half-point scores are shown while others are not, wonder no more! Because it’s a scale for cheese. You can’t think too seriously about these things.)
Ranked list of Quesos:
1. Sazon (tie)
1. Mamacita’s (tie)
2. Texican Cafe
3. Guero’s (flameado) (tie)
3. Barriba Cantina (tie)
5.Texas Chili Parlor
6. Kerbey Lane Cafe
7. Jack Allen’s Kitchen
10. Shady Grove
11. El Arroyo
12. Chili’s (white spinach)
13. Lupe Tortilla
14. River City Grille (regular queso)
15. Billy’s on Burnet
16. Guero’s (chile con queso)
17. River City Grille (pork queso)
18. R Bar & Grill
19. Super Taco
21. Chili’s (skillet queso)
To understand how our humble journey got started, please see The Reason for the Cheesin’