Chipotle has taken its queso national.
As of this week, you can order the quintessential Tex-Mex dip on your burrito or with a side of chips at any Chipotle location — not just the Mexican fast food chain’s Greenwich Village test kitchen.
The company says it’s held off adding queso to its menu until now, in spite of customers’ requests, because it refused to use the industrial additives its competitors do, like gums and artificial stabilizers.
“Additives make typical queso very consistent and predictable, but are not at all in keeping with our food culture,” Chipotle CEO and founder Steve Ells said in a statement announcing on Tuesday the company’s nationwide rollout of “all-natural queso.” “Our queso may vary slightly depending on the characteristics of the aged cheddar cheese used in each batch, but using only real ingredients is what makes our food so delicious.”
The brand’s “genuine queso,” as its website calls it, starts with a base of melted aged cheddar cheese. It contains a total of 23 ingredients, including rice bran oil, cornstarch and tapioca starch. Chipotle is promoting the product as slightly spicy and gluten- and preservative-free, with the caveat that the lime and lemon juice used as flavoring are sometimes added as preservative agents.
Early reviews have been far from stellar — Eater critic Robert Sietsema described the dip as “notably bland” and a “bit grainy,” and Buzzfeed’s resident Californian and resident Texan said they were hoping for a smoother or gooier texture — but the company says it’s incorporated customer feedback into its final recipe.
At your local Chipotle counter, you can order queso on your entrée or as a small or large side with chips. As of July, the Chipotle Next Kitchen at 504 Sixth Ave. was charging $1.25 for queso on your burrito or bowl, $3.45 for a small side and $5.25 for a large one.