May 11, 2012

La Nomrah Living: Dos Toros NYC Review

As usual, last Monday I spent close to 30 minutes googling restaurants for lunch near my current freelance gig. To say the least, if I don't bring lunch to work with me, finding something to eat can be quite the exercise. I have to have a taste for something, and if I don't... WELP! Watch how quickly thirty minutes can turn into damned near an hour. To make matters worse, purchasing lunch everyday is not the most financially sound decision; not in the heart of Manhattan where one lunch could add up to 3 days worth of train fare... round trip.

In any case Monday was a quick find. I narrowed it down to Maoz (vegetarian felafel spot which I still haven't tried yet, and rumored to be the best felafels in NYC) and Dos Toros Taqueria (burritos, burritos, burritos!!!! Oh... did I mention burritos?). I love any meal that can be housed in a wrap (except your typical wrap sandwich), and Dos Toros came with high recommendation from my co-worker who raved that the burritos "are even better than Chipotle's ... and taste just like the ones from back home [Cali]." That was about all I needed to convince me - not that I needed convincing - especially since my transplanted Californian friends always seem to unsheathe their authentic Mexican cuisine experience on the West coast like the sword of Zorro, and use it to deflate the lowly Chipotle, Qdoba, and bodega offerings of which we East Coasters are forced to partake.*cough* food snobs *cough*

Photo: www.dostoros.com

I made my way to Dos Toros' Union Square location (137 4th Avenue, New York NY 10003) accompanied by my Cali-native friend.  We were right on time! When we arrived we were able to join the line inside the eatery, and a few short minutes later we were seated and devouring our burritos. Not too long after we sat, the line grew magically and snaked outside, and I was glad to be early for something for once in my life! Plus, I was starvin' like Marvin and probably would have passed out from the furor of and overzealous hunger pang had I needed to stand on that line.

I digress... I was impressed (apparently I'm a poet too) - and it wasn't the furious hunger pang speaking.

I ordered a pollo asado (grilled chicken) burrito with black beans, rice, guacamole, cheese, mild salsa and a bit of verde (green & mild) hot sauce. Listen friends ... the rice was yellow! Yellow and flavorful! The burrito wrap was not pasty, cloying or excessively thick or doughy like I have experienced with other burritos from other restaurants that will go unnamed right here (however you can check out Ed Levine's more experienced tete-a-tete dicourse of Dos Toros vs. The Unmentionable *cough* Chipotle *cough* at SeriousEats.com) The pollo asado was seasoned right - there was a nice balance of smoky and spicy .... and the juices! Oh, the juices of that huge ass burrito! The chicken was succulent. The guacamole wasn't fantastical in terms of flavor - nothing to write home about - but it had a smooth enough texture that didn't take away from enjoying the flavor sensation in your mouth.

I wanted to stop myself, I should have. I really should have only eaten half of it, but I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't *hangs head in shame*. It was just too juicy and delicious for me to leave half of it severed and separated from the the other half that made it's whole life worth something.

Photo: www.newyorksocialdiary.com
But seriously, just as impressive as the food is the ingenuity with which the owners of Dos Toros Taqueria have approached social responsibility. All the tables and seating at Dos Toros is made from repurposed wood and other materials. The high stool I sat on was made of repurposed wood for legs, and repurposed leather straps were interwoven and fastened to the wood to form the seat. They looked sturdy enough to bear the weight of the behind that was growing with each bite I took (I speak of my behind). If you check out their website, you'll see that Dos Toros has made a commitment to low impact on the environment through sustainable practices. Read what they say:
  • Our chicken is locally raised, and fed a vegetarian diet with no hormones or antibiotics. For more info go to www.freebirdchicken.com
  • Our pinto and black beans are sourced locally and organically through Cayuga Pure Organics. Check them out at www.cporganics.com.
  • Our utensils, cups, straws, napkins, bags, and Platos are all compostable.
  • We compost our kitchen food waste, and we recycle bottles and cans.
  • All our cleaning products are non toxic, and made from biodegradable plant and mineral based ingredients.
  • Our tables, chairs, and wainscoting are all made from reclaimed or sustainable wood and we used reclaimed tin whenever possible.
In my opinion, Dos Toros is a great example of what social responsibility, sustainability, and ecofriendly living & business can look like when done right. There is a clearly rugged, rustic yet industrial feel to the restaurant however it doesn't feel cold and unwelcoming at all. Actually the vibe is relatively chill, despite what one would expect from the materials used, and the high traffic. They have successfully tapped into the warmer elements of the wood to create an almost homey environment, and the dope ass soundtrack playing in the background further enhances the experience.

Photo taken from www.gastrochic.com
For those of you who would prefer a less diet threatening option, or just dislike the thought of your fixings making sweet burrito love to each other, there are plato (salad), taco, and quesadilla options available, as well as the vegetarian rice & beans, option.

Above all, I love that I left Dos Toros feeling not only that I made a great decision for lunch, but also that I made a great decision for the environment, my environment. So lovers, if you are ever in NYC and looking for a good bang for your buck in every way possible, head on over to Dos Toros. I think the power you will feel from making a socially responsible choice is enough to balance out the guilt of eating an entire Dos Toros burrito... All. At. Once.


Dos Toros gets <3<3<3<3 4 hearts of La NomRah Love.

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