16 July, 2010
Dos Perros (Downtown Durham)Posted in : Dining in Durham - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez
200 N. Magnum
Dos Perros is an upscale, yet relaxed, Mexican restaurant that’s been open for about a year now. It is owned by the fabulous Charlie Deal, whom I call fabulous because I’m in love with his Chapel Hill restaurant, Jujube. Dos Perros focuses strongly on using fresh, local ingredients when possible, which is laudable but resulted in no avocados on the night we dined. I think it’s fair to keep that in mind as the review is read, as no avocado in a Mexican restaurant makes for a sad Gourmez.
In addition to Dos Perros’s dinner and pricier menu, they offer a late night menu of tacos after 10 PM at $2-3.50 a pop, which also replaces their dinner menu for Monday Taco Night. I’d be very interested in hearing if any of you have tried their tacos! Vegetarians can also rejoice, because Dos Perros’ offers a prix fixe vegetarian meal on Sunday nights and always has some vegetarian options on the menu. Beer dinners are also common occurrences, and brunch, which sounds delicious, is served on Sundays.
This was our first time at Dos Perros, so we went for their regular dinner offerings to get the normal experience. I thought the friendly yellow walls, and of course, the cute logo on the exterior, were very inviting, and the inside nearly as appealing as sitting outside on a nice day. The main dining room had a lovely white-tiled ceiling, a peek-a-boo kitchen, a mix of brick and orange walls, and hung blankets and paintings of Mexican tourist posters. The bar is to the left of their main dining room, but I didn’t sneak a peek at it.
Thick corn chips are served with a thick verde sauce. Both were fine, but I like bolder flavors in my salsas.
I love the cocktails at Jujube’s, so I was excited to give Dos Perros’ drink list a try. Definitely intriguing, but I think the drinks I had aren’t quite as refined as Jujube’s offerings. I was pretty happy with both my Hot Guava Margarita and my La Leche horchata punch (reviews forthcoming), but left wanting a little something more from each of them.
Foodwise, we started out with a round of plantain fritters.
Mashed plantain is mixed up with jalapeno and cheese, then fried and topped with Oaxacan cream. Salsa and some sort of marinated cabbage accompanied the fritters. The fritters were very sweet and bright in flavor, though I’d have liked them to be crisper. The mild sourness of the cabbage combined very well with that sweetness.
Two of us ordered the chili-tamarind duck breast with poblanos, new potatoes, and Charlie’s oregano.
Dudes, that is a fantastic dish. I was worried that the duck might be too pink for my liking, I’m that rare sore of foodie who doesn’t drool over juicy meat, but it was perfect. The chili-tamarind rub was perfectly spicy and salty, and the roasted poblanos-a tad mushy and a bit charred, which are good things in my book-complemented the duck well. The potatoes were perhaps a little overcooked but that oregano in combination with the lime they were tossed in made it all better. I think the sauce had a little vanilla in it; it was subtle and great.
Both my husband and our second friend ordered off that nights’ specials menu, and our friend was very happy with her choice of a shrimp dish with salsa verde and warm tortillas. Ben found the pork al pastor not quite to his liking, but he thinks he just didn’t make a good decision on what to order for himself that night.
Our friends shared the tres leches cake for dessert, which they raved about. Ben and I had a bunuelos with a blackberry chocolate sauce.
It was a very simple dessert, which isn’t bad for $4, but I wanted more pizazz. It was just fried dough, blackberries, and chocolate. The bunuelos was dense, yet the texture seemed light when eating it, which was fun. I think adding some spice would have tied this dessert together a lot better.
So what did I think? On the basis of the outstanding duck and pretty good offerings otherwise, I would definitely come back. It’s no Jujube for me, but hey, maybe I’ll change my mind after having one of those tacos.