It’s gospel in the West that authentic Mexican food doesn’t exist east of the Mississippi. The exception to that rule, though, is Southern queso, a silky, slightly spicy blend of melted white Chihuahua cheese and serrano peppers. There’s no salsa, no chorizo, and no, Southerners don’t call it queso. It’s just “cheese dip.”

Since I moved from Kentucky to Denver, proper cheese dip had eluded me—I’ve eaten way too many bowls of Velveeta-orange cheese. So when I walked into Yolanda’s Tacos, a family-owned joint in Greenwood Village, and ordered the “queso,” I was ready for another disappointment. But then the server arrived with a bowl of white, creamy cheese, surrounded by a mountain of tortilla chips. It was love at first dip.

After devouring the queso, my friend and I dug into some very un-Southern tacos, loaded with salty Cojita cheese, cilantro, and Serrano peppers. I loved the juicy barbacoa and Puerco carnitas, but with 13 varieties to choose from, there are options for everyone. If you’re not in the mood for tacos, go for well-built pollo nachos with shredded chicken, refried beans, and taco fixings—and smothered in more of that beloved cheese dip.

9612 E. Arapahoe Road, Greenwood Village, 303-792-2664 and 204 Wilcox St., Castle Rock, 303-663-9300,