Chipotle has finally added queso to the menu nationwide.
Earlier this month, Chipotle announced that queso would be available at all locations across the US on September 12. It will cost customers $1.25 to add the cheesy dip to an entrée, and up to $5.25 for a large side order of queso and chips.
The chain debuted queso in its New York City test kitchen in July. Chipotle began serving queso at roughly 350 restaurants in California and Colorado in August.
Chipotle said in a statement that it has tweaked its queso recipe based on customer feed back and crafted a final recipe that "has proved very popular with customers."
Business Insider tried the chain's original queso at Chipotle's test kitchen, which also serves other test items, including new salads and margaritas. Here's what the chain's first all-natural take on the cheesy dip was like.
The test kitchen, called Chipotle Next Kitchen, is on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 13th Street in Manhattan.
Wandering in, you'd think it's just a run-of-the-mill Chipotle, complete with the standard fast-casual decor and the lunchtime rush.
But, this location was the first in the world to add queso to the menu.
On first bite, the difference between this all-natural queso and the standard Tex-Mex variety is immediate. While the typical Velveeta-based dip is smooth and elastic in its cheesy richness, this cheddar-based version has a grainy texture more reminiscent of a roux-based sauce.
No Insta-worthy cheese pull here — the queso is viscous and texturally closer to a chowder than nacho cheese. However, that's not necessarily an insult. The savory, rich flavors are all present, with a slow, pleasant, smoky burn.
While the lack of elasticity is disappointing to queso traditionalists, when it's added to a burrito, these textural flaws are all but forgotten.
The dip becomes something of a cheesy sauce, adding a heavy richness that permeates the burrito and brings out a more umami-like earthiness from the meat and beans. For a chain that has long been weak when it comes to cheese, this is a marked improvement.
While queso wasn't the show-stealer here, there are other innovations Chipotle is trying in the test kitchen.
Margaritas are also on the menu — both a classic version and a strawberry, nonalcoholic take. Both are delicious; the classic is not too sweet and not too sour, and the strawberry one is delightfully refreshing on a hot summer's day.
The new avocado vinaigrette dressing is being tested atop a spring greens mix, a departure from the usual romaine salad base. It's tasty, with more hints of citrus than of avocado.
At the end of the day, the queso is the big draw. If you want the classic, cheese-pull dip that is the jewel in the crown of Tex-Mex cuisine, look elsewhere. But if your usual burrito order needs a little something extra, perhaps paying the extra $1.25 is worth the trip.