As posted at Carpe Durham on August 28, 2009:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
200 N. Mangum
Durham, NC 27701