Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Amy Payne
Arturo Serrato, co-owner of Queso’s Mexican Bar & Grill, 14741 Hazel Dell Crossing #100, Noblesville, says his restaurant’s name literally translates to cheese in Spanish.
“When you ask for queso in the states, you will be provided with a white cheese dip,” Serrato says. “If you ask for queso in Mexico, you’ll likely be asked what kind of queso — cotija, queso, chihuahua, Oaxaca, anemone, asadero and so on.”
Serrato notes that his restaurant’s queso can’t be beaten.
“We’re extremely proud of our queso dip, but we also tried to incorporate a variety of Mexican cheeses into a good number of our dishes,” Serrato says. “Our hope is to eventually use all of the Mexican cheeses into our dishes.”
Serrato, who was born in California but spent most of his later years in Mexico, says Queso’s soft launch was March 22.
“Officially, our grand opening was April 15,” Serrato says. “The overall response has been encouraging. Everyone loves the space, which we’re really pleased about. We didn’t aim to be contemporary or modern, but just a more honest representation of Mexico and its architecture. A lot of the materials (in our restaurant) were imported from Mexico as well – like our cantera stone and the adobe brick used in our waiting area and bar.”
Serrato says Queso’s is still working through the growing pains of a new restaurant but added that he and his staff are confident they will get there soon.
“Our chef is currently working on a few dishes for the summer,” Serrato says. “The guava glazed ribs look promising. We’re also working on some nice summer desserts. We hope to have them rolled out by mid to late May.”
Customers at Queso’s already have their favorites.
“Our Fajitas Nortenas, Quesadilla Catrina, burritos and chimichangas are some of the expected customer favorites, but our Carnitas En Salsa Verde, which are slowly cooked pork (pulled or chunks) are doing well too,” Serrato says.
Serrato loves everything on the menu, but if he had to choose a favorite dish, it would be sopes and huaraches.
“The corn base is often viewed as a thick tortilla, but I think that’s selling them short,” Serrato says. “Our sopes and huaraches are handmade, so they’re reminiscent of the good Mexican food I grew up with. Our carne asada is great too.”
Queso’s menu is extensive at the moment, but that’s partly because the staff feels that the perception of Mexican food is changing.
“There’s a growing appetite for more authentic dishes and that’s not dismissive of our queso covered tex-mex dishes at all because we love them, but it’s more of a nod towards the changing Mexican food scene,” Serrato says. “I see more Mexican dishes turning into bar food like nachos and tacos, which causes an already competitive field to become even more competitive.”
Serrato notes that, similar to how people compare hot dogs and pizza from different regions in the United States, there are a lot of debates that center around most Mexican dishes and salsas.
“I want to invite those conversations to Noblesville,” Serrato says. “Eventually, we hope to have a more concise menu – and perhaps include even a few modern Mexican dishes. That’ll likely occur towards the end of the year.”
The staff at Queso’s is proud of their drink selection, too.
“Espolon and Don Julio tequilas are used for most of house specialties,” Serrato says. “Espolon is a 100 percent agave tequila, and it is used for the house margarita. Regarding our higher-end selection, we’re excited to have partnered with Don Julio, hand selecting a barrel of Don Julio Reposado, so our Don Julio Private Cask Reposado tequila is exclusive to Queso’s.”
Serrato and his family also enjoy being in the Noblesville community..
“Noblesville is simply home,” Serrato says. “I moved here from Knoxville, Tennessee a few years ago. After visiting Noblesville, and Central Indiana in general, my decision to work here became easy. I also enjoy the growing emphasis placed on youth sports in the area. I’m ecstatic about strengthening my ties to the area.”
Serrato has already seen an enthusiastic response from the Hamilton County communities.
“I also want to thank Noblesville and our neighboring communities, Westfield and Carmel, for all the support we’ve received during our launch,” he says, “I invite everyone to come try us out, and see the new and many ways of enjoying our Mexican kitchen.”
Queso’s Mexican Bar & Grill is located at 14741 Hazel Dell Crossing #100 in Noblesville. You can give them a call at 317-798-2191 or visit them online at Quesos.us.