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FOOD + DRINK
Dorado Tacos and Cemitas
by Ami Kealoha
on 12 October 2009
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The joint effort of a former Californian and a Boston chef, the new taco spot Dorado brings authentically fine-tuned Mexican to Boston's Brookline area. When myself and two other former Californians (credit one of them, photographer-savant James Ryang, for these pics) were invited to visit recently, we left longing for a similarly well-priced and delicious restaurant in NYC—no small compliment coming from a group with higher-than-average standards for tacos.

Dorado takes its cues from Mexican street food and keeps the menu pretty simple, focusing on fish tacos (four styles in all) but offering other fillings too, as well as hearty sandwiches called cemitas, rotisserie chicken and sides that include rice and beans, guacamole and pickled vegetables. Drink options also keep it real with Jarritos, Mexican Coke, other sodas and aguas frescas.

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Co-owner Michael Brau explains that their food "is about spicy, sweet, acid and salty" and from what we tasted, his chef-partner Douglas Organ (already renowned in Boston) nails it every time. Our favorite of the tacos, the Ensenada, takes on the battered fish taco. Wrapped in a soft, locally-made tortilla, the crisp but not greasy fish comes dressed with a lime wedge, pickled onion (thanks to research the owners conducted in the taco's namesake town), shredded cabbage, crema and pico de gallo. Like everything we tasted, the freshness and quality of the ingredients kicks the classic up into a category you might expect from a more formal place.

In fact, Dorado puts off a decidedly laid-back vibe with unpretentious and helpful staff, bar seating and citrus-colored walls. Eco-friendly utensils, napkins and plates, recycled wood floors and reclaimed tables are yet another example of how to do it right—but back to the food.

Other tacos, like the piquant chicken and tender steak (both feature a habañero salsa with a pleasant heat), also benefit from the perfectly-sized tortillas and winning flavor combos. A meal consisting of a couple tacos (for $6 you get two of your choice with rice, smoky black beans and grilled jalapeño) satisfies, but for those looking for something new, the cemitas introduce a little-known Mexican sandwich hit.

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Layered between a disc of soft bread (the owners worked with a local baker to create a lard-free, sesame seed-topped roll) a combination of fillings, like pork milanesa and house-made chorizo team up with Oaxacan cheese, black beans, chipotles and cilantro, will convert most. While cemitas originated in Puebla, Mexico, Michael Brau initially checked them out in Boyle Heights, L.A. and chef Douglas Organ tasted his first cemita when Brau's son (and CH contributor) Seth Brau took them to a place in the back of a Sunset Park, Brooklyn deli.

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While the sides succeed as much as the more substantial dishes, we especially recommend the corn and guacamole. Accompanied by white corn tortilla chips (crisp and perfectly salted), a tangy lime flavor lends the fresh guac a welcome layer. The corn, seizing on a traditional street food dish popularized in the U.S. only recently, uppercuts them all by only serving it during its peak season and keeping the cotija cheese dusting light. (For those already obsessed, following Organ's twitter will alert you to other seasonal dishes, like a current and already well-received chicken tortilla soup served with avocado slices.)

All in all, Dorado's white-napkin worthy food, served in a no fuss setting with prices to match, perfects the taqueria concept. It's as ideal for a two-taco lunch or a cemita before a movie as it is for takeout rotisserie and a few sides picked up on the way home from work.

See more images after the jump.

Dorado Tacos and Cemitas
401 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446 map
tel. +1 617 566 2100

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