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Dos Perros

Posted by LHG 28 Aug 2009 18 Comments

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I went to Dos Perros last Thursday with a group of ten for a birthday dinner.  Since the original review was of the soft opening, I figured I’d give an update of the restaurant running at full-force.  I was extremely excited to try the restaurant as buzz has been excellent and I am a big fan of Jujube.  Also, how adorable is their logo?  Major points to the design team.

My date and I arrived a bit early and were greeted immediately by a friendly hostess.  Since the rest of our party was absent we decided to have a drink at the bar while waiting.  I had a lovely light and summery glass of sauvignon blanc which, as the menu described, tasted pleasantly of grapefruit.  We were also brought a bowl of toasty flour tortillas and complex salsa to munch on while we waited.  The interior of the restaurant is a definite win.  I love the bold yellow-gold colors and the fantastic works on the walls, especially the old film posters in the bar area.  Look for the one called “They Say I’m a Communist.”

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Our party arrived and we were led into the dining room which, as XOR noted, has the original stamped metal ceiling intact (love it).  I was a bit nervous as to how a medium-large party would be handled so soon after a restaurant’s opening, but our waitress was a pro and there was not an issue with orders being confused or food arriving late.  Chips and salsa were refilled regularly.  Also, one of our party is gluten and lactose intolerant, and I am happy to say that she was easily accommodated by the establishment.  She’d e-mailed Dos Perros the day before to inquire about food possibilities, and she received a response within twenty minutes of her inquiry.  Dos Perros clearly cares about their customers, which I appreciate.

Allright, onto the food.  The fun part about large groups is that you get to try many a dish!  My date and I split the plantain fritters ($6) for an appetizer.  I love plantains (had them every which way as a kid), and the plantains in this dish were perfectly sweet and crispy.  I could have used a bit more of the filling, however.  My gluten and lactose intolerant friend ordered the orange, jicama, and cilantro salad ($6), which she described as an excellent pairing of summery tastes and textures, although I think that I like jicama more than she does.

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Gluten and lactose intolerant friend’s (I should think of an acronym for her, especially since she is a frequent dining buddy) husband ordered the tamal oaxaqueno ($4), banana leaf wrapped chicken with mole negro.  Since I heard no negative comments, I assume he found it enjoyable.

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I was unable to get pictures of all of the appetizers ordered–one of the perils of eating with a group, people don’t like to wait for the foodie to photograph everyone’s food before digging in!  However, I did try the ceviche ($8), which I highly, highly recommend.  I love a good ceviche, and Dos Perros’ is excellent.

I ordered the mole poblano ($15) for my entree, which was fantastic.  The chicken was slow cooked and extremely tender, and the mole was perfect: subtle, complex, with a chocolatey flavor that was pronounced but not overwhelming.  Also, there was a lovely heat to the dish.  The rice and beans which accompanied the mole were a little underwhelming in comparison; they were perfectly cooked, but the flavor of the mole was so intense that it blotted out all other foods.  Mixing the rice and beans with the mole sauce provides an easy remedy, however.  The mole was served with hot flour tortillas for wrapping but I was content eating the mole with a fork.  My date ordered the garlic and chile sautéed shrimp ($16), which would have been the perfect amount of garlic for a normal eater.  He and I are garlic freaks, however, so I say more garlic please!  Also, thumbs up to the zucchini-based veggie side.

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My gluten and lactose intolerant friend and her husband ordered the roasted whole red snapper that came with a lovely tomato and olive based sauce ($18).  They loved the fish and the sauce, although grew a bit nervous when our waitress suggested that they eat the fish cheeks.  My friends raved about this dish.

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I photographed, but did not try, the chile relleno ($12), a vegetarian friendly cheese and vegetable stuffed pepper with black bean puree, and tried but did not photograph the baked corn pudding ($12) with grilled poblanos, garlic sauce, and queso asadero (awesome, I will have to get that next time I am at Dos Perros).  Apologies for not getting photographs of every dish!  The table was long and people were hungry.

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We were all too full for dessert, so that will have to be another trip.  The flan looked yummy, however.  Dos Perros is an excellent restaurant in a lovely space.  The staff win major points for being so accommodating, especially to the dietary restrictions of my tablemate.  And, of course, great food.  Hopefully the establishment will become a staple in the downtown Durham scene.

Dos Perros

200 N. Mangum

Durham, NC 27701

http://dosperrosrestaurant.com/

Appetizers: $4-8

Entrees: $12-$20

18 Comments »

  • Dylan said:

    I gave Dos Perros a shot for the first time yesterday afternoon. I ordered the carnae asada platter and was impressed. The hanger steak was cooked perfectly. I also had a watermelon beverage (sorry, can’t be more specific) that was great.

    I think the building itself has some great bones but the decorations leave a bit to be desired.

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  • burgeoningfoodie said:

    Will be going tonight actually. I had seen the menu beforehand and was looking forward to trying the plantain fritters. However, never having had ceviche.. I may have to switch. This restaurant seems like it could become something like Jose Andres’ Oyamel in DC. If so, that would be cool. Were there any off menu specials? The Salad you photographed looks a little small and the platings look a little haphazard, but if the food is good, I doubt many will care.

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  • Gary said:

    How about GLIB? (Gluten and Lactose Intolerant Buddy)

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  • LHG (author) said:

    Gary: GLIB is great. I have informed said friend that this is her acronym from now on–also, nice Tom Cruise/Matt Lauer reference.

    burgeoningfoodie: Don’t know much about the food scene in D.C. Much more familiar with the NYC food scene from numerous visits and a summer internship. I can’t recall any off the menu specials but I might not have heard them. Normally I’d agree with the platings being haphazard but I feel that the “messy” platings compliment the earthiness of the food. Sometimes food can benefit from a lack of aesthetic; I felt that the way the food was piled on my mole plate, in particular, encouraged me to blend the flavors. Anyhow, is there such a thing as neatly plated Mexican-style food? Hope you enjoy your dinner tonight!

    Dylan: You probably had an agua fresca. Mark Bittman actually wrote a column on agua frescas the other day, you can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/12/dining/12mini.html?ref=dining

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  • Anne said:

    I’d love to hear more about the GLIB!

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    LHG replies on August 30th, 2009 at 4:25 pm:

    What would you like to know? The GLIB is a friend who was having major health issues last year and we were convinced she had actual serious stomach problems. Finally, after many useless doctor’s visits, a doctor sat her down and suggested a total lifestyle change. So the GLIB cut out gluten and dairy and she’s been in excellent health ever since–much happier, much more energy, no more stomach problems. She isn’t a celiac, she just does better keeping gluten and dairy out of her system. However, she is a major foodie, so she’s having fun seeking out the many foods she can still eat.

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  • JNB said:

    My husband & I ate here Saturday evening and loved it! We arrived around 530p and were told that they were booked up for the dining room but we could sit in the bar area. It was perfect – great space, cozy, friendly staff. We also had the plantain appetizer, chicken mole and the slow roasted pork. We were too full to get any of the $4 desserts (only $4!) but there’s no reason why we can’t go back for some drinks & dessert another night. Both of us really enjoyed the beans that came with the mole – just the right amount of smokiness and ham/bacon flavoring. The mole sauce had an almost peanut satay quality to it but with chocolate. But the pork…WOW. Can’t go wrong with Dale’s Pale Ale, Brooklyn Lager & Mothership Wit on draft either. We both really enjoyed Dos Perros & look forward to trying the shrimp/garlic dish and the desserts soon.

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  • burgeoningfoodie said:

    Went here recently and we all enjoyed it with few complaints.

    Positives
    Friendly waitstaff
    Drinks were refilled regularly
    Food was for the most part tasty
    Tasty agua frescas

    Negatives (needs work)
    More Plantain fritters
    Ceviche we had smelled a bit off but tasted okay and didn’t make anyone sick
    The corn pudding tasted like cornbread and so it wasn’t anything special to me.
    Noise can be an issue
    Thug kids knocking over newspaper stands and then doing stupid dances outside the window where we sat.. (okay can’t fault the restaurant on that one)

    The only other thing that would have detracted from my experience is that the Chef/Owner visited every table and skipped over us… so I felt a bit slighted..

    Anywho, the restaurant is still young but doing well and drawing a crowd. It will be interesting to see what else goes into that neighborhood. I really liked how you got a clear view of the DPAC (and yes some of the prison). All in all going in without knowing much aside from whats on here, it was an enjoyable experience and I’ll return again in the near future.

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  • Vinay said:

    Used to be regulars at Jujube when we were living closer to Chapel Hill, so we were really excited to hear about Dos Perros here in Durham. Reading the great reviews on this site, we went for dinner last night and the experience was awesome. We had reservations for 8:30 but had to change it to 9 due to a car breakdown and the hostess was really nice and accommodating and we immediately were seated on arrival at 9. Place was packed, lively and I really love the decor. Great job. It just seems so full of life. People here have talked about the fritters and other food stuff which is all true. The slow cooked Pork is a must have there. Extremely tender and my “Pseudo” Vegetarian wife loved it. So coming to the Desserts, all of them are steals at 4$. They were out of Rice pudding unfortunately so we tried the Lime and Jalapeno SOrbet and the Vanilla Flan. The Flan was really good, creamy and delicious. The sorbet is unlike anything I have had before. We were little hesitant initially but all doubts were gone after the 1st bite. It is spicy and has some poblano in it too but it is really Juicy, tangy, spicy, sweet refreshing and a person can easily just keep having it. Great job on this unique flavor. Our waitress was great, service was awesome and everything was as great as expected. Good job Charlie and Co.

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  • enwiebe said:

    Went to Dos Perros last night. We made reservations for 4 for 6:30 on a Friday and this quickly morphed into 6 people by the time we were seated and expanded to 8 within 15 minutes. The staff handled this very nicely. We were seated into their banquet/overflow space downstairs. Nice rustic feel and quieter than upstairs (once they turned the music down). I started with a cayenne and mango margarita that was only a dollar more than the house margarita. My wife and I decided it was definitely worth the extra money. I little heat, but not overwhelming. Our Tostadas de Ceviche was made with a somewhat strong fish but OK. The Ensalada de Sandia y Pepinos was served with an announced substitution–honeydew rather than watermelon–worked out fine. I appreciated the desire to substitute for what was fresh and available. We split the Pollo Rostizado con Papas y Rajas entree which was butterflied beautifully and cooked to perfection. Other folks at the table had the Tamal Oaxaqueno, Platanos Rellenos, Mole Poblano, Camarones al Ajillo, and Tikin Xic Pescado among other things. The friend who had the grouper was concerned it was undercooked. There was not enough light to really tell, so the waiter took it upstairs to check it out and deem it done. In fact, it ended up being a thick, but well-cooked piece.

    Total bill for my wife and I with two drinks each was around $70. We are definitely heading back soon.

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  • xilab said:

    I also visited Dos Perros with a birthday group of 12 friends and was fairly underwhelmed. The service was excellent and well timed, and the food looked pleasant on the plates, but the food itself just didn’t make me say “wow”. I was really excited to try the plantain fritters. On paper, they are a perfect melding of sweet, creamy, tangy and fried. Unfortunately, the execution lacked either the salt or acidity necessary to make them sing.

    For an entree, I had the mole poblano. The chicken itself was very delicious, but as LHG said, the rice and beans were a flavor vacuum on the plate. I also tried the mole amarillo, which was tasty, but unremarkable. The bite of chile relleno I had was very good, however, and this is a dish I usually dislike.

    The drink menu is impressive, but at $9 a cocktail, it’s hard to convince oneself to sample more than one. From a business perspective, they might want to do a little market research and adjust the price. If the cocktails were $7, far more people would order at least two, leaving $5 more dollars on the table for the restaurant. Just a suggestion.

    I would try Dos Perros again, but probably not soon.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    Why do places so often fail at simple things like rice and beans? I grew up eating super flavorful beans, and just cant understand when I have a simple plate of rice and beans at a restaurant or eatery and they just have no flavor at all…are people just afraid to season them?

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  • sleepasaurus said:

    Wow…the beans and rice were incredible when my wife and I went ( a week or so after opening). Smoky and spicy…probably my favorite part of the meal (I love beans). I wonder what the heck happened in the past few weeks.

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  • Tooth said:

    Regardless of taste, lets just all agree that the beans at Dos Perros are most certainly not prepared in a way that is conducive to their consumption in the presence of polite company. Especially when combined with a few beers.

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  • Beth1 said:

    Had dinner here tonight. Ordered a margarita that was mostly just limes and ice. Tortilla chips were good but the green sauce was nothing spectacular. Appetizer was the Platanos Rellenos – excellent. Trucha Rellena was wonderfully fresh but I didn’t see any shrimp in the filling. It was accompanied by rice which was tasty but a very small serving and stewed zucchini which was very good. For dessert I had the churros which were awful and nothing like the tasty ones they serve at Watts Grocery. Service was very good and our waiter attentive.

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  • shawful said:

    Last night I dined at Dos Perros without reservations. Luckily we were squeezed in by the very accommodating maitre d’. Unfortunately, the meal was just fair. There were some good points, but one item was particularly bad.
    Complimentary chips and salsa were quite good. The house margarita was moderately strong and served in a short glass; it was o.k. In addition, the atmosphere was nice with pleasant décor and jazz on the stereo.
    For appetizers my companion and I shared plantanos rellenos and sweet potato soup. Both of those dishes were pretty good.
    She had the carne asada and it was tasty but too rare. The potatoes, similar to some that I often cook at home, were excellent. For the bad, My grouper was awfully fishy, bordering on inedible. The restaurant was very busy; it was 25 minutes between appetizer and entrée or the fish would have been sent back to the kitchen
    Hopes were high for good authentic Mexican cuisine. Overall, the side items and flavors were respectable but they did not produce quality meat and fish. Sadly, the fish ruined the meal and my chances of returning are 50/50.

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  • squidproquo said:

    Dos Perros is about to fall under my 3 strikes rule. Both times I’ve been there (once for lunch, once for dinner) it has been underwhelming. Actually, my lunch there on Wednesday was nothing short of bad. I had the braised beef burrito, and it came in an oddly sweet sauce that was most unpleasant. Also, I hate rice on my burritos–bland, cheap filler, and while they left it off when I asked, I kind of got a “look” (seriously, just make the darn thing smaller or throw some extra beans on, I love them and they’re almost as cheap). I guess I can appreciate that they’re using nopales in the salsa, but the taste/texture reminds me of slimy, overcooked green beans, which is especially bad when coupled with the fact that the chips were stone cold at both meals. The chips are also too thick and under-seasoned. I honestly can’t remember what my husband and I had when we went for dinner a few months ago, which is telling since I have a near perfect memory for good meals, even decades later. They get one more shot, then I’m afraid I’ll be staying at home for my version of braised beef burritos and saving expensive finer dining Mexican meals for when I can go to the near-perfect Oyamel in DC.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    finally made it in for dinner the other night and was pleased.

    starting out, salsa was yummy! chips were fresh.

    I opted for the Duck enchiladas, seeming nice and simple and rustic. i was right. the duck meat was tender and flavorful, but not seasoned, which only accented the duck flavor. wrapped in soft corn tortillas with a mellow pumpkin seed sauce. they were not swimming in sauce or overflavored muck, and i could taste every ingredient.

    the beans and rice that came with it were an unexpected treat. also simply seasoned, but soft and meaty. I noted that they were an heirloom variety shell bean…those shell beans make a plain little bean like butter….mmm

    my other half opted for the Caldo Verde with seafood. warm and comforting, the broth tasted very bright and fresh (could have stood a tad bit more lime i think… seafood mix of squid, shrimp and mussels were fresh and every thing complemented eachother in the simplest way.

    nicely done

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