from Austin Eater / by Meghan McCarron
For Classics Week, the story behind Matt’s El Rancho’s most famous dish.
Whenever Bob Armstrong dines at classic Tex Mex restaurant Matt’s El Rancho, he gets up from his table and circles the room. If he spots a group gathered around a bowl of queso heaped with taco meat and guacamole, the former Texas Land Commissioner leans in and asks, “Are you enjoying that?”
They usually are. The appetizer is the restaurant’s most popular dish; Matt’s chef estimates they sell at least four hundred a week. Most patrons order it by asking for “a small Bob” or “a large Bob.” Its full name is Bob Armstrong Dip.
After discovering the table is enjoying his namesake, he announces, “I’m Bob Armstrong.” Matt’s El Rancho tends to be packed with regulars who have been ordering the Bob for years. People gasp. They request photos and autographs. Even during this interview, Armstrong could not stop himself from visiting tables. Matt’s could not have picked a better regular to name a menu item after. Bob Armstrong’s dip is famous, and he loves it.
Matt’s El Rancho opened in 1952 on what is now Cesar Chavez downtown, and quickly evolved from a tiny restaurant serving plate lunches to a Tex Mex destination for politicians, sports writers, and other movers and shakers in mid-century Austin, including LBJ. In the Matt’s El Rancho cookbookMexTex: Traditional Tex-Mex Taste, Matt Martinez Jr. tells the following story of the dip’s creation: Bob Armstrong came into the kitchen and asked a teenaged Matt Martinez to whip him up “something different.” On a whim, Martinez added taco meat and guacamole to a bowl of queso, and when Bob Armstrong tasted it, “his eyes got as big as saucers.” Back at the Capitol, Armstrong ignited a craze for the new dish he’d had . . .
Read the rest at http://austin.eater.com/2015/1/30/7952139/the-history-of-bob-armstrong-dip-according-to-bob-armstrong