Free Queso Day
the third Wednesday in July (2010 to 2011)
the third Thursday in September (since 2012)
Moe's Southwest Grill in 2010
Salsa and chips are always free at Moe's Southwest Grill, but queso—or "liquid gold," as they call it—is also free today. Why? Because it's Free Queso Day! Each year on the day, Moe's gives out a free six-ounce cup of their queso as a way to thank their loyal customers. In past years, the restaurant—which is a fast-casual franchise that serves southwestern food in around 700 locations—has held contests giving those who enter the opportunity to win free queso for life. (Well, at least one free cup a week for 24 years.) In 2019, the day was expanded to "Queso Season," and queso was celebrated all of September. Not only was free queso available in-store, but also by using the Moe Rewards app, online ordering, and catering. Moe Rewards members also got an extra 100 bonus points for every purchase of queso they made during the month.
Queso, more formally known as chile con queso, is a dip made with cheese and chile peppers that are primarily used with tortilla chips. According to one story, the first time queso was sold at a restaurant may have been 1900, when Otis Farnsworth opened the Original Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio and put it on the menu. It became one of the most popular menu items, although it is unknown what type of cheese was used. The first published queso recipe may date to the early 1920s when one appeared in a women's organization cookbook in San Antonio. This recipe used American cheese.
Until the 1940s, it was often difficult for Americans to get access to fresh green chilies or jalapeños, so powdered cayenne and paprika were used when making queso. In 1943, Carl Roettele opened a cannery in Elsa, Texas, where he canned tomatoes with spicy green chiles. He named the product Ro-Tel, and advertisements encouraged people to use it and processed cheese to make queso. Processed cheese has long been the cheese of choice for queso. Both American and Velveeta are common, but Velveeta is the most popular. Not all queso is made with processed cheese, however, and there are regional variations of the dip as well. In El Paso and the surrounding area, as well as in parts of New Mexico, queso is often made with white cheddar—which is not as smooth—and fresh chopped chiles. Other variations exist, and the dip is a top-selling food at Tex-Mex restaurants around the United States. Moe's Southwest Grill makes theirs with a blend of three cheese and a bit of jalapeño. You can try it for yourself today—for free!
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by going to a Moe's Southwest Grill near you and getting a free cup of queso! Check online for more information on how to get free queso when you order online or order catering, as well as how to earn bonus points when you purchase queso. You could also follow the Moe's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages. You could also use the day to make queso, and could pick up a copy of Queso!, which has a variety of recipes to choose from.