Triangle Bucket List: Dos Perros in Durham

Dos Perros. Two dogs.  Seems simple enough, right?

However, when placed in downtown Durham, NC, these two dogs are transformed into a magnificent Mexican spot perfect for date night or a get together with two ladies.  Since my main squeeze is located in Philadelphia (without me, for the next few months), I opted for my other partner-in-(legal)-crime: Melissa.  And, though our initial destination was Dame’s, plans changed and we ended up in a different Durham restaurant, but EQUALLY on my Triangle Bucket List.

Solid lineup

The menu wasn’t too long, but it had everything we needed. Dinner, appetizers, and, of course, cocktails!

Bevvies? BUENO!

Melissa ordered the Dos Perros Sangria: “Hibiscus, citrus, seasonal fruit and red wine, mixed into an addictive beverage.”

I opted for the always-popular classic margarita: “Fresh orange and lime juice, just a dash of sugar, and, of course, tequila.  If you agree that a margarita should be tart and refreshing, you’ll love it.”

I have to admit, after trying both our beverages, the margarita came out on top. Then again, anything with tequila, fresh lime juice, and rimmed with salt is all I need to be satisfied.  I will say that Dos Perros offers a load of craft beers on their extensive drink menu, but, when in Rome…

Speaking of menus,  I’d scoped their dinner menu out for quite some time before we headed to our seats (we had a bit of a wait, though nothing too off-putting), so I knew some ideas of what I wanted.  What we got was a mixed bunch of goodies (and… not AS goodies).

Chips and (tomatillo?) salsa

Hell of a heap of guac

The guacamole started the meal off on the best note possible. Creamy with just the right amount of chunks (yay corn!), this guacamole order for $5 was delicious and hearty! A rather large serving, that didn’t stop us from virtually (actually?) licking the bowl.

No worries, because our meal came shortly after we’d finished.

Empanadas!

As Melissa and I are both fond of sweet potato ANYTHING, we were all on board for the Sweet potato empanadas with chipotle, fig sauce (for $7)

I’ll admit, the empanadas themselves were actually not all that life-changing. It was the sauce that brought the dish home for me.  The sweet mixed with the savory, salty fried pastry completed this plate.  We split this order, as well as a “main dish”.

Yeah, baby!

Lamb enchiladas w/ tomato-red pepper salsa. With shredded cabbage, avocado, queso fresco ($16).

The ends of these (3) enchiladas were actually a little dry. That’s all that I can complain about, though. The lamb inside was tender and the queso fresco on top of everything was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Again, the sauce (or, in this case, salsa) was slathered over all the best bites, and I even enjoyed some of the rice (which I normally avoid like the plague.)

I wish we’d opted to replace the pinto beans with black beans, but the whole plate worked.  It worked a-okay.

Since we got a patio seat outside, we enjoyed our dinner outside, lit by candles.  However, by 9pm, it was a little too chilly for us (who hadn’t thought to bring jackets or sweaters, in hopes that we could trick our body into believing that it was already summer) so we migrated inside for the grand finale (finale grande?)

HELL to the yeah!

Mole poblano ice cream topped with house-made granola.  I don’t remember the price of this, but it was totally worth it, whatever it was.

One bite seemed sweet and sumptuous, the next bite possessed a spicy kick that reminded you what an amazing feeling taste-dissonance can be.  This ice cream…. just go get it.  It’s ethereal.

Though there were not-so-highs during this dinner, nothing was bad and there were a few standouts that I’d go back again and again to enjoy.

The Triangle Bucket List continues to be a booming success.  I can’t wait to see what’s next…
What’s your favorite taste combination?  Salty sweet? Spicy and creamy? hot and cold?

Mez in Durham and a BEER REVIEW!

Yesterday, thanks to a SaveMore deal (of the century!!) I finally went to get my hair done (done = cut and partial highlights) in Raleigh. For $49, I was able to get both done.  WELL worth the 30 minute drive to randomsville Raleigh when it normally costs me $110 at best (part of the reason I’ve been putting it off…)  I’d say it was a great success, going from this:

Lucky you, not able to see my 5 inch roots.

To this:

And you wonder why they call me "The Golden Child"...

Not the best pictures, as both were taken from within my car, but you get the idea.  With my fancy new hair, I only had one option. SEMI-FANCY DINNER DATE WITH THE BEAU AND FAM!  While I tend to eat at home or make my foods to eat elsewhere like, 75% of the time, every now and then, I pretend to be a fancy pants and head out on the town.  When my hair is polished to a high sheen, that is definitely one of those times.  On the Monday Menu was Mez, a “Contemporary Mexican” joint in Durham.  The table started with some shared guacamole and salsa.

GAUC-ATTAUC!

Salsas de la Casa

The Guacamole was described as “Made fresh daily with avocados, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, lime juice. Served with crispy tortilla chips” and the Salsas de la Casa as “A trio of fresh salsas served with tortilla chips. Salsa Mexicana, roasted tomato-chipotle and tomatillo-avocado.” My thoughts?

The guacamole was off the chain.  There was the right amount of spice and a perfect smoothness, and I felt like I could taste each of the ingredients listed, especially the jalapenos! The salsas, on the other hand, truly didn’t taste worth the $6 price tag.  The “Salsa Mexicana”  which is what I assume was the Pico de Gallo bowl, was almost flavorless, other than mostly just tomato. The tomatillo-avocado was pretty quality, but I felt like the dark red one on the left was a glorified mexican “sauce”. That being said, the beau inhaled it, so clearly it couldn’t have been too bad.

For my meal, I was feeling adventurous so, due to the recommendation of our server, I ordered the Roasted Tamarind Pecan Crusted Salmon Served with chipotle sweet potato gratin and sauteed Spinach. My plate looked like this:

Delicioso!

The piece of salmon was ENORMOUS and this plate could’ve EASILY been two meals.  As I was a Ravenous Rachel (not to be confused with a Negative Nancy), though, I wolfed down nearly every bite on the plate (duh, I’m the queen of the Clean Plate Club).  The salmon was cooked medium, and had a wonderful pink color all the way through. The spinach was fresh and the chipotle sweet potato gratin, while not tasting like chipotle, was AMAZING!  It was like a mille-feuille made entirely out of sweet potato layers (the literal translation of that French term is thousand-leaf, and I knew that without looking it up, and that proves that my education at Garnet Valley High School was entirely worthwhile.) My only complaint about the entire meal was that the pecans that crusted my salmon were a little overcooked (read: burnt).  I pushed a few off the salmon, and focused on the ones that weren’t burnt, which added a wonderful crunch to the fish.

I’d like to say I chose my beer to best pair with my meal but honestly, I just love this next beer.

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

When I used to work at some crummy Ameri-Mexican place while I was finishing out my senior year at UNC that served sub-par burritos and orgasmic sweet potato fries with a habanero mayo dipping sauce that I need to recreat, my favorite beer we served was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.  When I’d serve it to a customer, I couldn’t help but sniff the bottle (yup, I’m a creep) because the aroma of this beer is heady, hoppy, and floral. This IPA poured a light amber color, and since I was already intensely familiar with the aroma, I dove right into the taste. The carbonation is delightfully bubbly and the taste hits the mouth with so many fruit flavors that I can’t make them out one by one, all I know is it’s a flavor explosion of AWESOME!  It’s pretty damn hoppy (just how I like it) and, at 7% ABV, not so boozy you’ll feel drunk after 1 or 2, but packs a reasonable punch if you’re throwing them back.

This beer is widely available and, if you’re a newbie to the beer world (or for some reason, haven’t tried it, and feel like you should redeem yourself for your foolish ways) GO GET A SIX PACK! Or even just try one in a pick-6, but bring it to a party and people will want to be your friend.  It normally costs around $10-11 at my grocery store in Durham, NC, so it’s definitely a step up from a sixer of PBR, without being a snobby craft beer.

Now I’m off to figure out what to eat TONIGHT! My prediction: Wanchai Ferry Kung Pao Chicken.

EDIT: CONFIRMED! KP CHICKEN IT IS!!