Hard to believe that I have yet to review a proper Mexican place, despite doing articles about tacos. We have seen tacos with a Korean influence and Japanese tastes, but nothing more authentic yet, or something close to that. I think we can safely consider “Dos Caminos” to be that classic Mexican dining experience, with a modern upgrade.
“Dos Caminos” is from the BR Guest Hospitality family of upscale restaurants, which also includes “Blue FIn”, “Ruby Foos”, and “Strip House”. While it is technically a franchise, it’s small enough to qualify for a review (just don’t ever expect one of “Olive Garden” on this site). Most of the “tradition” from this place would be the base ingredients and concepts, and while this is not Tacos Nouveau (imagine a deconstructed burrito… the horror), these are dishes adapted for an American palate.
When you first walk into “Dos Caminos”, the bar will immediately catch your eye. The phrase, “Ooh, shiny” comes to mind when I look at it, and it is impossible to miss. The bar features around 140 liquors and beers and an extensive mixed drink list of cocktails, margaritas, sangrias, and non-alcoholic things like Mexican sodas and freshly-squeezed juices.
The restaurant on Houston has ample seating, with plenty of smaller tables with ergonomic benches to sit on, or cozy booths that are a bit more private, as well as long tables for larger parties. When the weather gets warmer, there is also plenty of outdoor seating in their own private patio on the street corner, which is blocked off from the rest of the street with gates (hey, it’s New York after all).
The Chicken Chorizo And Pinto Bean Cazuela ($10), which is essentially baked nachos topped with diced chicken chorizo, pinto beans, guacamole, sliced jalapenos, pico de gallo and crema, had a nice heat to it. The cool guac and crema contrast to the spicy jalapenos and chorizo, combined with the beans to make for a solid change in pace from the usual chips and salsa starter. I was hoping that the baking process would have left me with some crunchy bits of tortilla chips on top, but alas, they were all moist, with the bottom-most layer overwhelmed by the taste of jarred jalapeno brine – which was not too pleasant. The cazuela has a lot of flavors happening at once but I can not say that I would order it again because of that last comment.
“Dos Caminos” has a very nice guacamole selection that I would recommend you readers try (I regret not ordering a bowl of that instead of the cazuela). I enjoy guac but not as much as other people it seems, however, the avocado dip at “Dos Caminos” is very tasty and is worth enjoying separately. Diners have a few very interesting choices, such as Mango and Papaya-Habañero, Jumbo Lump Crab-Chipotle, Bacon chicharrón with pickled jalapeño, and traditional style.
The Carnitas tacos ($16) come with rice and beans, and your choice of flour or corn tortillas, made to order. Drizzled with a green chile salsa and garnished with cilantro, the slow-roasted pork was fall-apart tender, albeit a bit on the dry side. A few pieces were lucky enough to be grazed by some big pieces of salt, and they tasted amazing with that, like a good steak. The slightly hot salsa moistened the pork, and the home-made tortillas held up strongly to the weight of the liquid and slow-roasted meat.
The tacos also come with unoffensive tasting rice and black beans, which are best when combined. Nothing special about either of those things, but they go great with any leftover bits of meat that fall out of your tacos. Other options for your tacos include sesame seared yellowfin tuna, skirt steak, mahi mahi, citrus-marinated chicken, and chipotle-marinated chicken. On the day that I went, they also had salmon tacos as a special, and while I did want to try them, I could only remember this scene from “King of The Hill” when I considered it.
“Dos Caminos” is a few notches above your average taqueira and Mexican restaurant, and is pretty darn good for a franchise. With a bar-centric interior and intimate atmosphere, it’s a fine place for drinks and dinner. The menu is vegetarian-friendly, with plenty of love for us meat-eaters. I give it a recommendation for lovers of Mexican cuisine and booze, and I will be coming back to give some of the fish tacos a try in the near-future and maybe a quesadilla or something else more than just meat in a tortilla, so stay tuned for my second strike coming soon.
“Dos Caminos” has locations Atlantic City, NJ, Fort Lauderdale, Fl, and Las Vegas, NV, and four spots in NYC. The one I visited to for this review was at 475 West Broadway at Houston Street.