Bob Armstrong dip is a a souped up version of queso, the Tex-Mex staple. It originated at Matt's El Rancho in Austin, TX, which opened back in 1952. The Texas Land Commissioner at the time was Bob Armstrong who became a regular client and one day requested something new. Matt Martinez Jr was in the kitchen that day and threw some taco meat and guacamole into a bowl of queso and in so doing created a Tex-Mex classic. Martinez eventually moved to Dallas, opened Mattito's, and took the recipe with him. Matt's El Rancho and Mattito's are still in operation today, and Bob Armstrong dip is a menu highlight at both places.
Javelina owner Matt Post grew eating Bob Armstrong dip at Mattito's, and he knew he had to put a version of it on his menu. Post estimates that he and chef Rich Caruso tried between 40 and 50 different versions of queso throughout Texas when researching the menu for the Union Square Tex Mex restaurant. They came up with what he describes as a "refined" version, using a proprietary and secret blend of real cheeses, rather than the processed cheese often used in queso.
Caruso might be from Brooklyn, but he worked at both Hill Country Barbecue Market and Rosa Mexicana here in New York, and has traveled extensively in Mexico and Texas. The beef picadillo he came up with for the dip has what he calls "traditional Texas spice," including cloves, allspice and "a healthy dose of cumin." The dip has proved to be the most popular menu item at Javelina. "Almost every table get it" says Post. "You would be shocked at how much cheese we go through. We had to install extra refrigerators to hold it all."