Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The overlooked cheese dip

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 10:38 AM

UNHERALDED:  The cheese dip and salsa at Chips Barbecue.
  • Kat Robinson
  • UNHERALDED: The cheese dip and salsa at Chip's Barbecue.
With the World Cheese Dip Competition coming up in a week and a half, my attention has been with the proud tortilla-served sauce we have claimed with Arkansas pride as our own. Yet as I go about putting together my list of favorites, I have discovered one that most people don’t talk about., Which is a shame, since it’s my favorite yellow dip.

It gets overlooked because it’s served up at a place famous for its barbecue and moreso its pies. Still, if you haven’t tried the cheese dip at Chip’s Barbecue, you have missed out.

Used to be, that dip always contained a bit of smoked beef in its makeup. This particular sitting I found no beef at all in the dip, no meat at all… and liked it even better than before.

Chip’s dip follows the Mexico Chiquito model. Eschewing the processed cheese food used in so many local examples, it’s made from a combination of American and Cheddar cheeses. What really separates Chip’s from other dips is its spice blend. Since it’s a family recipe I can’t tell you for sure whether I’m right or not, but I can tell you there’s paprika, cumin, pepper (probably white pepper) and garlic in it. It is substantial.

What else is substantial? The chips. Chip’s has its own particularly thick yellow tortilla chips, chips with heft, chips that can easily handle the house Nachos or Nacho Salad. They are strong, they’re served up on the side in a brown paper bag and you need to get you some.

And then there’s the salsa. If you order the cheese dip you get the salsa, and that’s a good thing. Chip’s salsa is heavily fresh on the tomatoes with more cumin than you’d find in an Indian parlor. It gives the salsa a chili-happy scent that belies its fresh-ability. That is to say, I like the salsa and take it home and eat it on Saltine crackers like a good Arkansas girl.

That’s my only fault with Chip’s concerning the cheese dip and salsa… tortilla chips are the only option. If you’re a fry dipper like me, you are just outta luck and must order them on the side. That doesn’t keep me from doing just that — Hunter usually claims all the tortilla chips anyway.

You’ll find Chip’s Barbecue on West Markham a block west of the Markham Street Baptist Church. They’re open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday through Saturday, and like all good Southern barbecue joints they’re closed on Sunday. (501) 225-4346 or check out the website.

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