DUCs may come and DUCs may go, but Chipotle is forever. For many an Emory student, the Mexican grill’s generous use of hearty ingredients, close proximity to campus and reasonable price tag make it an attractive option when the line at Cox Hall Food Court is too long. Recently, the chain revealed a new addition to their menu: queso. While with any ordinary restaurant this would be no big deal, even a small menu revision at Chipotle is akin to the reformation of a religious script. A ravenous college student, I ventured to Emory Village, eager to try the new item.
Along with my standard burrito, I ordered a side of 4 oz. queso, opting out of the hefty 8 oz. version. The appearance was a pale orange, like copper or the current U.S. president. Littered within the dip were chopped-up bits of chipotle chili peppers, contributing to the colorful mosaic appearance of the dish, a notably untraditional twist on the classic white-colored Mexican dip. The dip also emitted a strong aroma of sharp cheddar, the first thing I noticed upon closer examination. Now, as a Taco Bell fanatic, I am a firm believer that authenticity does not necessarily correlate with taste. Try and tell me that my fiery Doritos Locos Tacos are not “real Mexican food” and your complaints will be eclipsed by the sound of me slurping my Mountain Dew Baja Blast. This isn’t Houston or San Diego — holding food to such high standards will only disappoint.
As I dipped my tortilla chip into the queso and took a bite, I noticed an unusual texture. Rather than sporting the traditional, thick gooeyness of a standard queso, the queso was more grainy. While this was initially disappointing, my tongue moved on from the anticlimax and was instantly hit with a subtle barrage of flavors. On one hand, you had chipotle, on the other there was the sharpness of the cumin and poblano pepper. But the cheddar cheese unified and muted the cocktail of flavors, ensuring that I was not overwhelmed. As the chip and cheese ventured down my throat hand-in-hand, an uncomfortable bitterness filled my mouth, urging me to chomp on another salty tortilla chip for balance.
By no means is this the best queso I have ever had. The texture — while not a dealbreaker — has missed the mark, and the slight bitterness of the dip makes it hard to enjoy by itself. It also won’t exactly break the bank at $2.05 ($3.35 if you include chips), but if you are the type of person to pay extra for guacamole and a drink, then your bill could be pricy. Nevertheless, if you deem the cost worth it and are craving something comforting and creamy during your next Chipotle trip, the newest menu addition might just be the thing for you.