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Dos Perros

Posted by xor 8 Aug 2009 8 Comments

dosperros_front

Nestled at the corner of Mangum and Parrish, new Mexican restaurant Dos Perros (200 N. Mangum St., Durham) held a “soft opening” tonight and as RPP reports, they plan to open officially on Monday, August 10. This special place offers Tonali-like fare, with more flavor and kick. We were fortunate enough to wheedle an invitation to their limited opening this Friday.

dosperros_rest

With a beautiful restoration complete, their almost-opening night was a sign that the owners know what they’re doing.  The light-filled dining room was clean, fresh and modern, but with the building’s history left intact, including the original stamped metal ceiling, a very classy touch. The owners were extremely cordial and excited, stopping by to chat at every table, and soliciting feedback on the food.

Things ran smoothly as if they’d been doing this for years.  Maybe that’s because they have.  The owners of Jujube have brought their fusion cooking, along with a sizable portion of the talent from their Chapel Hill establishment, over to Durham. With Dos Perros, they’ve kept the fusion aspect subdued, aligning more with authentic Mexican cooking.  In fact, our meal closely resembled the sort of food you’d expect in an upscale eatery in Oaxaca or Mexico City.

dosperror_bar

This was basically a test run, however, and they warned us that things would not be totally set up, so a few things were missing: no liquor license (coming within a few days), no desserts, and a reduced menu. Nonetheless, with 7 appetizers and 12 main plates (including two vegetarian options), there was plenty to choose from.

For starters, the waiter brought us a large bowl of homemade wheat flour tortilla chips and a chile arbol salsa that was very yellow in color and tasted strongly of tomatillos. The delicious, thick, cooked and pureed salsa was authentically Mexican.  We ordered their aguas frescas, which were good. MNT had the sandia (watermelon) and XOR had the flor de Jamaica (hibiscus flower) which he thought was sweetened just right for most tastes, though he likes it less sweet.

For the appetizers, we started off with a Tostada de Ceviche ($8).  The local fish bits were delicious and fresh, mixed with farm-fresh sweet tomatoes, onion and cilantro, piled atop a freshly fried tostada.  It was some of the best ceviche we’ve had in Durham.  Next came the Ensalada de Naranja, Jícama, y Cilantro (salad of orange, jícama and cilantro, $6), a refreshing and simple salad that we thought could have stood more cilantro or some tender lettuce garnish underneath, but was still quite satisfying, with its cool, crisp and sweet jícama, and just lime juice for dressing.  MNT, who can’t get enough plantains, found the Platanos Rellenos ($6, cheese and jalapeño stuffed plantain fritters with cream and salsa) to be the star appetizer.   It was a unique way of interpreting this classic pairing of cheese with plantains, to envelop the cheese and peppers with sliced plantains and fry them. Plus the dish was a kaleidoscopic burst for the eyes.  Our fourth entrada was the Tamales Oaxaqueños ($6), which was a tasty banana leaf-wrapped chicken version with mole negro. XOR thinks this was slightly more refined than the Durham taqueria tamale offerings, but MNT ain’t really a tamale girl.

2perros_appetizers

The menu for Platos Principales (Main Dishes) offers various chicken, meat, seafood and vegetarian options.  Normally, neither of us would call Yucatecan food our favorite, as far as Mexican goes.  However, a couple of Yucatecan dishes grabbed our attention.  MNT chose the Cochinita Pibil ($16,Yucatan style pork slowly roasted in banana leaves, misspelled on the menu as ‘Conchinita’), which was cooked to a nice point of tenderness, but left MNT wishing it had a sauce and/or had been marinated. The dish should come with the addictive Yucatecan pickled red onion that accompanies virtually every dish in the Yucatan, but instead was crowned by slivers of white onion marinated in lime juice (the owner actually noted this and apologized, saying they had not had this ready in time).  It came with a  zucchini/tomato/onion side that XOR liked a lot but MNT thought was only OK, and pinto beans which were very nice, with a smoky pepper flavor, and slightly sweet.

2perros_main

On the recommendation of our lively waiter (who had tried all the dishes) XOR ordered the Tikin Xic Pescado ($18), a Mayan style spice-rubbed grouper, which was thick, pan fried in cast iron, and just right. It had a subtle spice to it, and was nicely blackened yet very tender in the middle. Accompanying the fish was the same zucchini/tomato/onion side, and a delicious, smoky tomato rice that overall had consistency of risotto and an interesting tangy flavor.

All in all, Dos Perros represents a fantastic new addition to the Durham restaurant scene and we would highly recommend it.  It’s got great atmosphere, great service, and great food.  We can’t wait to go back and see what their full menu looks like.

8 Comments »

  • Ross Grady said:

    We stopped by Dos Perros tonight, and for the most part I agree with everything XOR says . . . my only quibble would be that in my opinion, the tamales are the best in Durham. Perfect ratio of meat to masa to sauce, and the masa is moist and well-seasoned all the way through. Charlie said that he’d been trying to get his tamale lady to make the tamales smaller, as he’d like to keep serving two as an appetizer, but at their current size, two are more like a small entree. Apparently she’s been making them the same way for decades, though, so we’ll see . . .

    For her entree, my companion had the whole roasted snapper, which was stuffed with scallions & cooked with tomatoes and green olives. It was lovely. The fish had taken on just enough of the tomato & olive flavors to accent its own light summery flavor, without ever being overpowered.

    I had the carnitas, which differs from most carnitas I’ve had locally in that it has been cooked (one of the two times, at least) in a chipotle chile sauce, so it’s moist and smoky and just slightly tangy/spicy. As with the fish, the other flavors were nicely balanced against the flavor of the pork, rather than overpowering it. *Highly* recommended.

    I can’t wait until they get their liquor license . . .

    Along with the stuff I’ve already mentioned, we also tried the ceviche, which was good, but we thought the fish could be presented better, in smaller chunks, particularly since the curing process doesn’t break down the connective tissue as well as heat-cooking does. It was a bit unwieldy. I also tried the Caldo Verde, but among all the dishes we tried, it seemed to be the most “work-in-progress,” so all I’ll say is just that.

    Since owner Charlie Deal was circulating constantly, and asked us several times for our opinions, we told him what we thought — and if I know Charlie, that data will be put to good use, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of the dishes we tried, including those last two, after the place has been open a couple of weeks & has had time to work the kinks out.

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  • Stephen said:

    If you are thinking about going to Dos Perros for lunch today (August 10) – don’t. We just got turned away, as they’re out of food. Hope that bodes well for them.

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  • Phil said:

    Tremendous!

    I suspect I’ll be lunching there regularly.

    Interesting and great about the Yucatecan offerings. Flying Burrito (in Chapel Hill) and Gulf Rim (Hillsborough) also have a good few Yucatecan items.

    I’m only sad that Taqueria Lopez’s Oaxacan menu is now gone (along with the whole restaurant, all two or three versions of it).

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  • mh said:

    Dos Perros just started serving breakfast Monday through Friday. Anyone tried it? It looks pretty good.

    http://dosperrosrestaurant.com/menus/BREAKFAST/

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  • David Goodman said:

    A group of 7 of us went to Dos Perros last night (Nov 18). It was my second visit. I have to say that I find the food overpriced, brown without much in the way of color or fresh vegetables, heavy on the beans, and just mediocre. Coupled with their higher prices, I’d suggest in a heartbeat to go instead to Mez or Tonali (and actually I’d have been much more content at the quality but much more inexpensive Cosmic Cantina, Chubby’s, and maybe even Chili’s (although I’m a chain snob and never go to them). I like the atmosphere of Dos Perros and of course the location. I hope they do well but PLEASE FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE improve the menu and/or lower the prices for the brown goo on one’s plate.

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  • Joseph said:

    wow,
    that food looks delicious!
    I am seriously planning to visit this place next time I am in town, thos tamales look too good to be true, I gotta try themm

    good blog,

    will tell my buddies about it,
    thanks.

    <a href="http://www.lasimagenesgraciosas.com/&quot;

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  • Julie said:

    They took the tamale off the dinner menu, which made my husband very sad. He always ordered it.

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  • Mike said:

    I just tried Dos Perros and, all and all, I found it too Americanized. There is a nice atmosphere and good drinks. But the flavors in the food just weren’t that developed (we had Cochinita Pibil, Platanos Rellenos, and Duck Enchiladas) much to my disappointment. Maybe I’ve had too much good Mexican food in California and Chicago (Xoco, anyone?), but this didn’t measure up. In Durham I would recommend Taqueria La Vaquita.

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