Eats Beat

Matt’s El Rancho restaurant in Austin is hot over a Fort Worth queso

Ten years after Fort Worth chef Grady Spears borrowed an Austin restaurant family’s nickname for its “off-menu” Bob Armstrong queso dip, the Matt’s El Rancho family wants it back.

The Martinez family’s restaurant has filed suit against Horseshoe Hill Cafe in Fort Worth over the queso dip, according to KXAN/Channel 36 in Austin.

Horseshoe Hill is the latest in a series of Spears-founded restaurants serving queso with taco beef, guacamole and sour cream folded in as “Bob Armstrong dip.”

The dip was originated at Matt’s El Rancho as a favorite of 1970s Texas Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong of Austin. It was served as an off-menu item until the 1980s, when both Matt’s and the Dallas-based spinoff Matt’s Rancho Martinez formally put it on menus.

Spears and the late Matt Martinez Jr., founder of the Dallas restaurants, were good friends, and Spears has said he borrowed the dip from the younger Martinez.

Matt’s El Rancho is suing for trademark infringement, according to KXAN.

Horseshoe Hill Cafe is operated by Spears and a partner, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop founder Chuck Bush.

Spears is awaiting trial and faces a charge of assault with bodily injury of a family member in connection with a July 2018 arrest. Wendy Mann-Spears, then his wife, was bruised on her face and body and told police she had been hit multiple times by Spears.

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