The fourth annual Quesoff competition pits Austin’s finest against each other in a battle for best queso

Sam Limerick

There are a lot of things Austinites care a little too much about. Local beer and breakfast tacos rank high on the list, but almost nothing beats the fervor with which locals live and breathe for queso. Saturday afternoon, teams of self-claimed queso aficionados came together at the Mohawk to fight for the Best Queso title at the fourth annual Quesoff, Austin’s definitive queso competition.

The Quesoff pitted 20 teams representing Austin restaurants, social clubs and family recipes against each other in four different categories: meaty, spicy, veggie and wild card. A panel of judges included radio personalities, local journalists and musicians.

Adi Anand, the creative mind behind the Quesoff, together with the Mohawk owner James Moody, had been plotting a queso competition for some time before the duo finally cemented the idea four years ago after a long night of Jameson cocktails. 

“Our inspiration was the love for queso we saw amongst our friends and, obviously, our own unending love for the dish,” Anand said.

Siena Magallanes, third year law student, entered the competition under the moniker “Thunda Fromunan” with her green chile and pineapple Sriracha queso. Magallanes and friends won the veggie category in 2012, but since the Quesoff attracts large crowds, competition is difficult for independent entrants like Magallanes.

“It only took us an hour to run out of queso,” Magallanes said. 

Contestants at this year’s competition brought in a record 100 quarts of queso, and the slow cookers and coolers were scraped clean by the end of the day.

After much deliberation, the panel of judges decided that Freedmen’s Brisket Queso was the absolute best Austin has to offer — at least until next year’s competition.