Queso Times opens in Winchester

Published 3:43 pm Thursday, December 7, 2023

It’s time to let the Queso Times roll in Winchester.

The grand opening of the area’s newest Mexican restaurant occurred at noon at its 1452 West Lexington Ave. location in the space formerly occupied by Music City Grill and, most recently, Fat Burger.

Sergio Lopez, one of the eatery’s owners, discussed what customers can expect.

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“This place has fast, casual Mexican food,” Lopez said. “People will go through a line, and they can get whatever they want. Kind of like Subway.”

The menu includes staples such as burritos, tortilla chips and various dips. It also has more traditional items not often found at Mexican eateries around Kentucky.

“We are introducing street tacos that are quite popular in Mexico. We are also introducing quesabirrias and birria tacos,” Lopez said.

Street tacos differ from average tacos in that they are made with a corn tortilla, cilantro, onions and a special sauce to go with a variety of meats.

Birria is a meat stew or soup made from goat, beef, lamb, mutton or chicken and is served at celebratory occasions such as weddings, funerals or during holidays.

Besides fresh food, customers will encounter authentic Mexican decor.

“The thing is, we wanted to make this place different,” Lopez said. “We wanted to introduce some of the art to show people what we have in our hometown,” Lopez said.

Paintings by Mexican artists adorn the walls, and skeletons – posed playing musical instruments or sitting down, greet customers inside and outside the restaurant.

The skeletons pay tribute to Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), a festival celebrated during November in Mexico, where families honor their departed loved ones.

“We really believe in that tradition, so we are trying to expose it to people,” Lopez said.

Also outside the restaurant are large hand-crafted letters spelling out Winchester in an homage to similar signs found in Mexico. The letters meld images of Mexican culture with Winchester landmarks such as Ale-8-One.

Lopez and his family are from the Mexican state of Jalisco and moved to the U.S. in the 1990s.

After living in Indiana for several years, the family moved to Winchester in search of a restaurant to run.

They began operating El Camino Real in 2002, followed by Don Senor ten years later and then Puerta Grande around eight years ago, and now Queso Times is Lopez and his family’s fourth restaurant.

So, how do Lopez and his family manage to create distinct identities for their properties?

“Innovation,” Lopez said. “Trying to get something new all the time and trying to keep up with what is new with Mexican dishes.”

While the family has only been in the restaurant game for a few decades, cooking is in their blood.

“Everybody cooks in Mexico,” Lopez said. “Mom, always. She was the one who tried a lot of things and added different touches. Grandma and grandpa passed it to mom and then passed it up to us.”

Queso Times is open daily from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.