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Queso Fundido at Viva Villa Taqueria in San Antonio.

Putting the fun in fundido

When melted cheese is front and center, it’s liquid gold on the menu

Bubbling, melting, stretchy queso fundido is a shareable dish of melted cheese and spicy touches of chiles, often chorizo and more. It’s a reason to linger over Margaritas and appetizers, and these versions, with fun add-ons and bold flavor counterpoints, bring the fiesta into focus.

Queso Fundido
Cariño Cortez, chef and general manager, Viva Villa Taqueria, San Antonio
Price: $10.95
Cariño Cortez is the first female leader of the Cortez family of restaurants, which has been in business for 77 years. Cortez, who gave a talk on “Connection through Comida” at a recent TEDxSanAntonio, worked at Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo in Chicago before returning home to San Antonio. Viva Villa is the newest of the group’s restaurants, and specializes in street food-style fare like Mercado tacos, Yucatan pork dishes, and smoked brisket in roasted chile salsa. Cortez’s recipe for this fundido (pictured above) is a blend of Mexican cheeses plus roasted poblano rajas and chorizo.

Queso Fundido
David Dennis, executive chef, Matador Cantina y Cocina, Fullerton, Calif.
Price: $10
The exposed brick in Matador is 110 years old, but the fusion is fresh. Pork carnitas get tossed in a blood orange-Mexican Coke glaze. Mofongo and bacon-wrapped street dogs also make the menu mix interesting, as does the Matador’s version of Queso Fundido (above). Refried beans bolster the Oaxaca cheese, which is served with chorizo and warm tortillas on the side.

Flaming Fundido
Imran Sheikh, co-owner of Vidorra, Dallas
Price: $12-$14 depending on accompaniments
Hospitality group Milkshake Concepts opened Vidorra in early November in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood. Vidorra means “the good life,” and so the tequila selection and social experience have been the focus. The Flaming Fundido (left) is 400 degrees of Oaxaca cheese served in a stone molcajete with several flavorful toppings guests can use to customize it. Versions include a vegetarian offering with squash and mushrooms; chorizo with poblano peppers and white onion; Chicken Tinga with pico de gallo; and Trompo Pastor with pork and pineapple pico de gallo. Milkshake Concepts co-owner Imran Sheikh calls the fundido “Vidorra’s very own form of liquid gold … it goes further than your traditional queso with its bold flavors and molten cheese.”

Fundido con Frutas al Tequila
Johnny Hernandez, chef-owner, The Fruteria, San Antonio
Price: $9.95
At Mexican fruit stalls, the fruit is like candy — Technicolor and lively. It’s Johnny Hernandez’s guiding vision for The Fruteria, part of his group of restaurants, which includes several La Gloria locations and Burgerteca in San Antonio, another La Gloria in Las Vegas and MEXIco in the United Kingdom. At The Fruteria, which also has locations at the Houston and San Antonio airports, fruit stars in Mexican tapas and fruit drinks and even has a supporting role in the fundido (above). Made into a tequila-spiked compote, it adds a counterpoint to the cast-iron pan bubbling with panela cheese and ancho chile.

Contact Tara Fitzpatrick at [email protected]

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