Chips and queso and a pitcher of margarita for the table, please.
I have to preface by saying I’m not a queso lover. I’m quite picky about my queso. It has to be white cheese — not orange or yellow — with a blend of spices that aren’t overwhelming, but pack enough heat to subdue the relatively dull taste of cheese. There also has to be enough cheese in the dish so the chip only touches the bottom when submerging your hand.
Condado strikes a chord with its queso, the perfect complement to an explosion of flavor in its make-your-own tacos and sweet margaritas.
When first walking in the door, the atmosphere is never dull with its Dia de los Muertos-themed artwork stretching around the interior of the restaurant’s constantly swamped dining area. Happy hour is normally wrapping up by the time I get to Condado, so if I’m fortunate, I can normally see someone sleeping at the high-top tables after what I can assume is a food-, but mostly, margarita-induced coma.
Who doesn’t love that lifestyle!
But let’s get to the good stuff, which is pretty much anything you order.
Condado finds the near-perfect balance with its salt crystal-per-chip ratio and a stellar curvature to the chip to scoop as much cheese as possible. I’ve established my affinity for Condado’s queso, but what really sets it apart from others — especially the Velveeta-esque queso at Local Cantina — is the single jalapeño and row of paprika and mixed spices on top of the dish.
But please, be professional and stir in the spices and drown the jalopeño. Don’t eat around it.
Now to the main dish — the tacos.
My go-to is two soft flour tortilla tacos with chicken, tomatoes, onions and cilantro, corn salsa and white cheese with a side of rice. Sometimes if I want more taste, I’ll add pineapple salsa for a sweet finish to each savory bite. The chicken is tender, can be pulled apart easily, and packs immense flavor. The juices of the chicken and salsa don’t make the soft shell too soggy, which can truly ruin an otherwise tremendous Tex-Mex experience.
It doesn’t apply to me, but the menu is mostly gluten-free and vegetarian with plenty of vegan options.
Condado’s location at the fringe of the Short North and immediate off-campus area makes for the perfect early-night activity. Like I said before — and I don’t like to repeat myself — more chips and queso and a pitcher for the table, please.