Gather ye Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and original Cheetos dishes while ye may...because this delicious garnish trend, like others that have preceded it (e.g. bonito flakes) has an expiration date. For the record, I, a lifelong Cheetos enthusiast, was putting that sh*t on everything (salads! pasta! brownies!) long before it became a thing.
I salute the marketing gods for showing America how almost any appetizer, entrée, or dessert can be improved via the incorporation of the world’s most addictive cheese snack. Here are five establishments in Houston that have taken the lead on utilizing this surprisingly versatile ingredient.
Rounding out Ono Poke’s accoutrements for your poké is one less traditional but nevertheless terrific option: crushed hot cheetos. A key feature of Ono’s spicy salmon bowl, the Cheeto crumbles provides that divine crispiness that complements the sweet supple fish, tangy green onions, and toasted sesame seeds. So sturdy are the Cheetos that they retain their crunch integrity even in the face a heavy drizzle of spicy mayo (because you want more spice).
Here’s an inconvenient albeit appetizing truth: sometimes the best topping for carbohydrates is ... more carbohydrates. Case in point, the matchstick fries at Zero Degrees, which, following a blanket of nacho cheese are sprinkled with even more processed coagulated casein in the form of XXTra Flamin Hot Cheetos. The first “X” is for the extra degree of heat and the second is for the extra good deal: a big box is only $5.
AJ’s Grilled Burgers and Snowcones
Although it’s generally good practice to order any menu options specifically mentioned in a restaurant’s title, as they are likely to be its specialities, at AJ’s I advise eschewing the burgers and the snow cones in favor of a Cheetos burrito or a Cheetos pie (like a Frito pie but swap out the corn chips for Cheetos, naturally). Pair either with AJ’s refreshing mangonada.
When ordering a burger at Hubcap Grill, it’s not just a question of “would you like fries with that?” but “and what about some Cheetos”? Among its expansive selection of specialty burgers is a single juicy patty, layered with American cheese and topped with whole Cheetos. Cheese on top of cheese on top of cow meat? Yes, please.
At Elote Spot on Telephone Road, the eponymous Mexican street snack of grilled corn is taken to new heights via creative embellishments. See, for example, the Hot Cheetos elote, which comprises a robust whole ear whose plump juicy kernels are covered cheesy crumbs. Served with more Cheetos (because, why not?) and a lime wedge for a tinge of citrus, this elevated elote will have you feeling cheesy in a good way.