The East Coast’s go-to for West Coast-style Mexican food makes its Midwestern debut when New York City-based taqueria Dos Toros (1 N. Dearborn St., Loop) opens on August 28.
Owners Leo and Oliver Kremer say the business plan for their counter-service restaurants hatched when they were 13 and eight, respectively. The Berkeley, California, brothers frequented their local taqueria five times a week and, according to Leo, became “super passionate and kind of obsessed with burritos and the whole [Mission-style] cuisine.” (For the uninitiated, “Mission-style” refers to the type of overstuffed burritos that originated in San Francisco’s Mission District in the ‘60s. “It’s the dominant, most affordable, delicious cuisine of the Bay Area,” Oliver says.)
“Somewhere along the line, it came to us that maybe other parts of the country didn’t have legit San Francisco mission-style [food],” Leo continues.
So the brothers, now in their 30s, started cooking. “We were total novices in the culinary world, but super expert in consuming burritos,” notes Leo. Their approach: reverse-engineer recipes based on the flavors they liked, then test their burritos on friends. “We got really positive feedback, which was totally a surprise,” Oliver says.
In 2009, they debuted those burritos (and more) in Union Square. They’ve since added a dozen more and have selected Chicago for Dos Toros’s first location outside of New York City.
The menu is straightforward: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, salads, and platos (tortilla-less burritos) that are fully customizable with meats, veggies, beans, cheese, and sauces. All day long, the kitchen will grill, sear, slice, and dice in order to keep things fresh. One thing that will not be made in-house, however, is tortillas: Local company El Milagro will supply the flour variety, while corn tortillas will hail from the same California company that supplies Rick Bayless’s restaurants.
Oliver singles out the signature carnitas burrito—which includes melted Monterey Jack (on the inside of the tortilla, as he says is key), pinto beans, Mexican red rice, signature hot sauce, tomato salsa, guacamole, and sour cream—as a must-try. “That beautiful carnitas,” he gushes. “We get boneless pork shoulder and we trim it down and butcher in-house.”
For Leo, the quesadilla is a standout. “You hear the word ‘quesadilla’ and you think a kids’ menu. Ours is a crispy, slightly smaller kind of burrito. We crisp the tortilla on the griddle, melt cheese on the tortilla, and add whatever you want on it. We trifold it like a letter, because that’s how we grew up eating quesadillas.”