Recreating Nitehawk Cinema Queso

Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn will always have a special place in my heart. It’s one of the coolest indie movie theaters in New York City featuring a cool vintage vibe for interior (think studded leather banquets at the bar downstairs plus a wall case filled with VHS tapes of classic cult movies), but it’s also one of the only places in the city where you can be served dinner and drinks while watching a movie (a la Alamo Drafthouse here in Denver) and the food is unbelievably yummy. On top of that, it’s where my husband and I went on our third date in 2011, for an unforgettable screening of Drive (one of Ryan Gosling’s coolest movie roles to date).

It was on that date that we both fell in love with a menu item called the Nitehawk Queso, created by the Michelin-starred chef Saul Bolton. A mix of highbrow/lowbrow, this Velveeta cheese-based dip was laced with delicious chorizo, refried beans, cilantro, and carrots, making for an unbelievable flavor making it the queso to end all quesos. Over the next four years of our courtship, we would ritualistically order at least one order of the decedent dish to share during the film.

I am not kidding you when I saw that this queso is one things that we miss the most about living in New York. Dinner and a movie just isn’t the same without it, so this February, Stanton took it upon himself to try to recreate the Nitehawk Queso to fill our need for gooey cheese.

Over the years the recipe for the queso changed slightly as different chefs have taken over the kitchen, but it’s the original that we fell in love with and will forever crave. With out tastebud memories and a lot of trial and error, my husband has created a pretty darn close approximation of the dish — saving us the 1,800 mile flight to get our queso fix.

To make a lacto-ovo vegetarian-friendly version of this dish, sub regular chorizo for Tofurky chorizo and cook in olive oil.

Ready to eat your way to happiness? My husband’s Nitehawk Queso recipe below:


  • 4 links of chorizo
  • 1 15oz. can of refried black beans
  • 1 package Velveeta cheese (original flavor) cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup of chopped scallions
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced into strips
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • 1 15oz. can of Ro*Tel-brand diced tomatoes and green peppers (mild or original)
  • 1 small container of pre-made guacamole (we buy ours from Whole Foods)


  1. In a frying pan, fry chorizo and break into smaller pieces.  Set cooked chorizo aside, leaving the grease in the pan.
  2. Add refried black beans to the frying pan, heating the beans in the remaining pork grease. When beans are heated, separate from pork grease and set aside.
  3. In a separate large saucepan, warm the cheese slices on medium-low heat to melt the cheese.
  4. Add chorizo, remaining pork grease, Ro*Tel diced tomatoes/green peppers, and milk to the cheese and stir periodically until smooth, approximately 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Transfer cheese mixture to serving dish.
  6. Add large dollops of guacamole and the refried beans. Then garnish with carrot strips, cilantro leaves, scallions, jalepeño peppers.
  7. Serve with tortilla chips.

Mouth watering yet? Will you put on your chef’s hat and take on the task of making the world’s most delicious movie night recipe?

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