Queso is not new. It has been a beloved regional staple for almost a century, it’s been lining your grocery store shelves for decades (Tostitos’ queso ain’t bad, man), and some restaurants have had the cheesy dip on their menu for decades. But in the past year, a number of chains including Taco Bell, Del Taco, and most recently, Chipotle, have all rolled out versions of queso on their menus. (Though it appears Taco Bell has already discontinued its version, RIP.) All of a sudden, queso is having what some would call a moment.
For the doomsday preppers out there who’ve been too busy stockpiling cans of Chef Boyardee to care about real food, queso is the shortened colloquialism for chile con queso, a velvety, spicy, chili-flecked pool of liquid processed cheese that defies all scientific law by staying the same consistency at its boiling and freezing temperatures. The most basic formula for queso -- and we’re talking, like, the most basic -- is Velveeta microwaved with Ro-Tel tomatoes. Some people swear by topping it with pico de gallo, or sour cream, or guac, or chili, but that’s all beside the point. You got processed cheese, you got some acidic-and-spicy vegetable mixture, and that’s queso.