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Lunch, Anyone? Dorado

A trip to Mexico, without the airfare

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Take a stroll down Harvard Street in Brookline and you pass picturesque shops, boutiques, and coffeehouses. Sandwiched in among them is a little slice of Mexican heaven, otherwise known as Dorado Tacos & Cemitas.

The restaurant, which features Mexican street food with a contemporary twist, is best known for its cemitas—the popular sandwich that originated in the Mexican state of Puebla. A recent visit to Dorado explains their popularity. Served on a toasted sesame seed egg roll with black beans, chipotles en adobo, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, and cilantro, the cemita ($6.25) comes stuffed with your choice of pork loin milanesa, grilled marinated sirloin steak, grilled marinated chicken, house-made chorizo, or for vegetarians, spicy portabella mushroom or grilled zucchini and red peppers. Got all that? If not, a framed chart hanging on a nearby wall depicts the complicated layers of ingredients.

And what a sandwich it is. We chose the grilled marinated sirloin steak cemita, which was juicy, with a fresh-off-the-grill taste. Each layer complemented the other perfectly and the toasted roll’s extra crunch was the finishing touch.

The reputation of Dorado’s fish tacos preceded them, so we ordered a two taco plate ($6.25), each prepared slightly differently. Our Ensenada taco was filled with beer-battered Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, salsa fresca, pickled onions, and Baja crema, while the Dorado taco was stuffed with beer-battered Atlantic whitefish, cabbage, salsa fresca, radishes, and spicy chipotle crema. The obvious star of both tacos, the fish was so tender, it just about melted in your mouth. With its crispy, golden brown outer layer, it turned an ordinary taco into a scrumptious Mexican treat.

Dorado Taco and Cemitas, Brookline, MA - Ensenada Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, Sirloin Steak Cemita

The only problem with our order? We wanted more. The tacos are on the small side and even a plate of two left us hungry for more. So we ordered another, choosing a shrimp taco, filled with chipotle-marinated, beer-battered shrimp, jicama pineapple salsa, and Baja crema, and a grilled marinated chicken taco, with roasted tomato-habañero salsa, guacamole, and queso fresco. Tacos also come stuffed with vegetables or sirloin steak. Individual tacos are $2.59. The taco plates are served with black beans, Mexican rice, and charred jalapeno.

Dorado’s tacos aren’t particularly spicy, but they certainly have a kick. No worries. The restaurant offers a great selection of Mexican fresh fruit juices, known as aguas frescas, to wash them down. Behind the counter, we spotted two coolers brimming with these colorful drinks, which include Jamaica hibiscus tea and watermelon lemon mint juice ($1.75 each). The group favorite was the subtly sweet hibiscus tea, with a flavor reminiscent of pomegranate juice. The unique combination of watermelon, lemon, and mint in the juice struck a tasty balance. The drink’s summery flavor left a cool and palate-cleansing mint aftertaste. A selection of Mexican beers ($3.50) is also available.

More and more customers poured through the door as we were eating. If you’re looking to grab one of the eight small tables or a seat at the bar along the window, try to avoid peak lunch and dinner hours. And if breakfast is more your style, stop by on the weekend for breakfast tacos ($1.75) and quesadillas ($4.50-$5.50).

Dorado’s brightly painted orange, yellow, and blue walls and the fish piñatas hanging from the ceiling make you feel like you’ve just stepped off the street and into Puebla. Although the authenticity of the food says otherwise, the two clocks on the wall, one marked “Brookline” and the other “Ensenada,” remind diners that they have not crossed the border.

Dorado Tacos and Cemitas, Brookline, MA

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas, 401 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-2100, is open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can either walk or take the MBTA Green Line C trolley to Coolidge Corner and turn right onto Harvard St. Dorado accepts all major credit cards.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below. Check out our list of lunchtime tips on Foursquare.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Lunch, Anyone? Dorado

  • A. on 04.11.2012 at 1:57 pm

    Should’ve tried the chorizo! It’s got a nice kick and is (I think) the best thing on their menu. The chorizo cemita is my go-to order.

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