Atlanta Orders In: Queso Truck to become Queso Shop, offering Tex-Mex for takeout and delivery

Carson Young is an Atlanta street-food pioneer deeply influenced by the taco scene of Los Angeles. When Young launched his first endeavor, Yumbii Food Truck, 10 years ago, people thought he was crazy. The city had no laws to regulate what was then a new cultural phenomenon, and, if you wanted to find Yumbii on any given day, you had to follow it on Twitter.

Today, Yumbii has two brick-and-mortar locations. (The latest, in Toco Hills, arrived in late August.) A second brand, the Queso Shop, currently exists as a food truck in front of the Yumbii commissary on Liddell Drive. Early next year, the Queso Shop will begin serving its traditional Tex-Mex offerings — tacos, quesadillas, churros and, of course, chips and queso — from a walk-up window on the property.

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Since the pandemic hit, the demand for takeout and delivery has spiked, hastening the transformation from truck to store. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for COVID, we probably would not have done this,” said Katy Young, Carson’s wife.

Ghost kitchens are one way for the industry to fulfill the need for delivery, using a digitized process that virtually eliminates business-to-customer contact. The Queso Shop’s “virtual kitchen” will offer online ordering and human-to-human interaction at the walk-up window. As the Piedmont Heights area has become increasingly residential, Yumbii’s neighbors have begged the commissary to offer food to go, Katy said.

Because Carson Young was born deaf, he always has seen the world in a different way. While other people listen, he looks for visual clues, a trait that allowed him to intuit the potential for digital and social-media commerce early on. A graduate of Woodward Academy and the University of Mississippi, Young, 37, is something of a trend-spotter, which is how the Queso Truck was born.

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Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

While liquid cheese is a staple in Tex-Mex restaurants from Austin to Atlanta, oddly enough it’s not a thing in Los Angeles. In 2017, the Youngs hatched a plan with fellow queso heads Nick and Cammy Miller to take queso to the streets of L.A., where the Millers live. The Queso Truck served its namesake gourmet cheese goop nine ways, and the Los Angeles Times noticed. “It’s pretty magical stuff,” Times food writer Jenn Harris observed, noting how the creamy white dip didn’t turn into a congealed blob once it cooled down.

Despite such encomiums, the bicoastal queso relationship didn’t last, though it ended amicably. It just didn’t make sense for business reasons. None of the four partners had time to serve as owner-operator and tend the brand. (The Millers had separate careers. Katy Young was pregnant with the couple’s second child at the time.) So, a decision was made for the Youngs to acquire the bright pink and orange truck and drive it back to Atlanta.

Lucky for us.

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Does anyone not like queso? I’m pretty hooked on Jalisco’s and Taqueria del Sol’s versions, but I think Carson Young’s recipe could change the game in Atlanta. It’s not a runny mess when hot. It’s thick, rich, creamy and surrenders to a tortilla chip without snapping the chip. For the most part, it stays soft until you chill it.

The Queso Shop also makes perfect guacamole, very good pork belly, and likes to have fun with tater tots. I liked the pork belly taco, and a veggie taco loaded with tots, onions, jalapeño, fresh corn and avocado crema. You can have your tots and your pork belly both on a pile of loaded, nacho-style tots — a hella filling meal for $8.

I can eat only so much, so I asked a friend to try the surfers burrito (tots, queso, carne asada, charro beans, pico, guac, crema). This friend used to own a burrito stand, and she gave it thumbs up.

And, don’t sleep on the churros — warm, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and served with a salted caramel sauce for dipping.

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Menu: Tex-Mex classics

Alcohol: no

What I ordered: chicken and kale, pork belly and carne asada tacos on corn tortillas; veggie taco (crispy tots, corn, onion, fresh jalapeño) on flour tortilla; salsa trio (queso, guacamole, pico); loaded tots with pork belly; churros; surfers burrito

Service options: takeout; delivery via Grub Hub and DoorDash; currently serving from a food truck, takeout window planned for early next year

Outdoor dining: no

Mask policy: “very strict” policy for employees and guests

Address, phone: 2127 Liddell Drive, Atlanta; 770-891-7480

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays


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