Lost in Translation: Chile Con Queso

I think Abe and I hit our breaking point with SXSW last night. With the Music Festival portion starting, things in Austin are going from bonkers to bananas.


After finishing my final interview, we drive around in traffic, miss a screening, try to get into a few different restaurants, and can’t find parking. So we give up. Finally, since we are starving, we walk straight across the street from our hotel to the only chain restaurant that isn’t in California.  Gloria’s Restaurants are all over Texas.  It’s Salvadorian cuisine meets TexMex.

When we sit down a huge basket of chips and salsa, plus bean dip is placed in front of us.


I knew I’d wind up eating a lot of them, so I decide to order the Chile Con Queso as my entree, thinking it is a bowl of Beef Chili, with some cheese sprinkled on top.  Obviously I don’t know how to spell. Or speak TexMex. (And I’m not as enlightened of a foodie as I think I am.)

Because I sure am shocked when this bowl of melted cheese is set in front of me.


As many of you know, me and cheese aren’t really close friends. I love it, but it doesn’t love me back. So ordering a bowl of this is a definite mistake. Especially the large portion size.


I id up eating about 1/3 of the queso con chile (that’s how I would describe it) and 3/4 of the chips.


Abe is sweet enough to spare half of his Spinach Enchiladas.  Which, unfortunately, are also swimming in cheese.


At least there are some greens?!?


Have you ever ordered a dish, picturing something totally different?

Needless to say, I now know what chile con queso is. And so do you!


20 thoughts on “Lost in Translation: Chile Con Queso

  1. brokencookiesdontcount

    I could easily eat that bowl of cheese…don’t even need the chips, just give me a spoon! However, should I? It doesn’t bother me, but being a Weight Watchers Lifetime member, I have learned what my trigger foods are. I’m vegetarian, and cheese is probably the only reason I have not become vegan…I’m not kidding! I’ve really been enjoying your posts regard SXSM. Very interesting! Thanks!

  2. Tamara

    Lots of chile con queso to be found in Michigan’s Mex and Tex/Mex restaurants, surprisingly, so I knew what you were in for… like you said, now you know!

  3. Katie

    Sorry about your food fail… that’s especially frustrating (and in the past has brought on surprising tears) when you’re starving!

  4. quinn

    Wow – I don’t even see the “chili” part of your “queso con chili”…looks like a bowl of melted cheez whiz to me! Too bad…I love chili, with or without queso, but I couldn’t have eaten much of that.

    Why do these things happen when we are at our hungriest? I recall going out for a late breakfast as a treat on a Saturday morning, reading the menu and ordering “raspberry pancakes.” I pictured pancakes with raspberries scattered in the batter – like blueberry pancakes, right? No! It was a plate of massive, cakelike pancakes with – seriously – about a half jar of raspberry jam dumped over the top. It was inedible. Makes my teeth ache just remembering it!

  5. Cindy

    The best chile con queso is made with the mexican white cheese and lots of fresh chiles. So sorry you had that surprise…that is a years worth of cheese for you. Hope your tummy has settled for your flight. I’ve definitely had some food surprises…but can’t remember any at the moment.

    I have a good friend flying to Austin today for the music. She specializes in musical performance photography. http://www.nancygoldwin.com

  6. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg

    I feel like y’all have been at SXSW forever!! I’m not surprised you hit your breaking point 🙂

  7. Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen)

    I used to love chili con queso at this one restaurant we used to go to…I had the worst stomach ache afterwards, but it was pure heaven going in! I am pretty particular now when I go out, which is kind of sad sometimes because it keeps me from trying different stuff.

  8. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    All the girls in my high school class were OBSESSED with Chili’s bottomless skillet queso. We’d go after school and on weekends and get about seven refills, then split molten chocolate cakes. I remember once I ate an entire skillet by myself…yeah, BAD CALL.

  9. Jan Schifter

    All the spoiled music exec’s, I’d get out of there as fast as you can. Years ago my ex boss insisted on a room at the Four Seasons and a red convertible to drive around in. I had to start planning everything months in advance, and fed ex her luggage! Happy travels to you and the hubby.

  10. Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    That queso looks delicious, but it would also hurt my stomach pretty badly.

  11. Emily @ Savory and Savage

    I hate that – when you have something wonderful and delicious pictured in your mind and what arrives at the table is the polar opposite 🙁

  12. chanelandolivia

    when I was at a crepe place in Paris I ordered ice cream with caramel whipped creme and coffee sauce and i thought it was a crepe
    they presented me with a bowl of ice cream
    and everybody else with yummy looking crepes
    i was so pissed off
    they brought me a crepe and i scooped all the stuff onto it
    my fail created a yummy coffee-caramel crepe for me at least 🙂

  13. Pure2raw twins

    One reason I do not eat out much (besides my food allergies) but is to order something and it is not what I wanted or thought. For me, whenever this happens I tend to regret getting the meal, ugh, which I know is not good.

  14. Lindsay

    Ouch! That cheese looks painful!! I hate when that happens, its just so disappointing, especially when you are hungry and ready to be satisfied.

    My worst order scenario was when I worked on a cruise ship and my castmates dared me to go for the “smelts”. They said they were fish…yeah…they were, tiny fish with eyes/bones/scales DEEP FRIED. Barf. Worse than trying to adjust to my sea legs!!

  15. chezjulie

    Well, chili con queso IS actually wonderful and delicious, but it just happens to be a cheese dip appetizer. I have never heard of Gloria’s Restaurant – must be a central Texas thang.

  16. Chris

    You realize “chile” refers to the green chilis. “carne” means meat. There is nothing to imply there would be any meat at all.

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