Monday, October 1, 2012

Dos Caminos - Fort Lauderdale

Most of us wait for Cinco de Mayo with sombreros and maracas, excited to sip down an unimaginable number of Margaritas while munching on plump tacos and guacamole. Like most people outside of Mexico, I thought we were celebrating Mexico's Independence Day. Not the case at all. While Cinco de Mayo observes the victory of a very important battle in Puebla, it is actually a regional holiday celebrated in a limited part of the country. Mexico's real Independence Day is known as Grito de Dolores, and it is celebrated on September 16th.

What does this have to do with my post? Well, I'll tell you. There were several festivities going on around town during the anniversary of Grito de Dolores a couple of weeks back, and I participated in one that marked two important events instead of just one. Mexico's Independence Day and the 10th Anniversary of  the opening of the first Dos Caminos in New York City. Dos Caminos is an upscale restaurant serving modern Mexican cuisine in a sophisticated yet colorful ambiance.  Since its birth in 2002, Dos Caminos has grown, expanding its locations beyond NYC, to Atlantic City and Florida. My adventure took place in the Dos Caminos located in the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel at 1140 Seabreeze Boulevard.

Corporate Executive Chef
 Ivy Stark
For this event, celebrated Corporate Executive Chef Ivy Stark from Dos Caminos in New York prepared our delicious dinner, comprised of some of their signature favorites. Stark captures the true essence of Mexican cuisine, not only in her cooking, but also in her book Dos Caminos' Mexican Street Food: 120 Authentic Recipes To Make At Home. With over 100 full-color photographs, Stark offers gourmet tips and time-saving techniques on how to create the South-of-the-border dishes she is famous for; while featuring fun twists to the Street Food that is the heart and soul of Mexico's culture.

Sampling of Signature Cocktails
The restaurant is whimsically decorated, keeping with the warm and authentic tradition of all the Dos Caminos locations. The walls alternate between vibrant colors and rustic hues, showcasing black and white images mounted on salvage plywood, while traditional "calaveras" (skeletons) and masks playfully keep watch.  Seconds after sitting down, I knew I was in for a fiesta of gastronomical proportions.  The first eye-catcher set before me was a sampling of five of Dos Caminos' signatures drinks. They were expertly crafted and represented a variety of flavors and spirits. From left: Dos Caminos' renowned Margarita El Camino made with Milagro Blanco and Fresh Lime Juice; Blue Pom, one of my personal favorites, made with Herradura Blanco, Blueberry Pomegranate and Fresh Lime Juice; Calle Fresca, Cazadores Blanco, Mango Cucumber and Ancho Salt on the rim; Del Diablo, a spicy concoction made with Skyy Vodka and infused with 5 Chiles for five days, Pineapple, and Passion Fruit; and Multijito, a sweet, refreshing berry mojito.

Vuelve La Vida
Tuna Ceviche Chino-Latino
While still mesmerized from the luscious drinks, the starter arrived: Vuelve La Vida, whose English translation means "Life Returns". It was outrageous! Jumbo lump crab, shrimp and oyster, combined with tiradito of avocado and grapefruit. The balance of sweet, salty and spicy flavors danced through the palate while accentuating the different textures. Next, a varied parade of appetizers made its debut. We started with the Tuna Ceviche Chino-Latino; fresh, meaty chunks of delicious tuna, marinated in soy-lime and topped with sesame, spicy chiles torreados, mint and cilantro. It had a definite kick that made you think you were momentarily vacationing in Tijuana.

Traditional Guacamole

Trio of Salsas
Warm Chips
Next up was a Mexican dish I adore and is quite the talk of the town in Dos Caminos: their Traditional Guacamole. Hijole it was good! Served with a Trio of Salsas and warm chips that were to die for, it was creamy and brought out the natural taste of the avocado. For those salsa lovers like myself, you have got to try these: a mild tomatillo salsa verde, a roasted tomato arbol chile with a medium kick, and the "bring me some tequila, this is really spicy" habanero salsa. Loved it!

Empanada Duo
Chopped Salad
The next two appetizers were the Empanada Duo and the Mexican Chopped Salad. The Empanadas were fun and original: one filled with roasted plantain and the other with crab molotes. It was a nice contemporary take on a Mexican staple. The salad was light and refreshing, tossed with a potpourri of  romaine hearts, grilled corn, poblano chiles, apples, pinto beans, green olives, tomato, anejo cheese, crispy tortillas and drizzled with toasted cumin vinaigrette.

Dos Enchiladas
Ribeye Steak Alambre
Fork in hand, I anxiously awaited the entrees like a kid waits for Santa. The first succulent dish was the Dos Enchiladas made with pastor roasted chicken rolled in corn tortillas, and smothered with Mexican cheeses and two sauces:  tomatillo verde and mole poblano. The second dish, and my all-time favorite of the night, was the Ribeye Steak Alambre. Imagine the smoky flavor of the bacon wrapped around the juicy ribeye steak, then skewered with poblano peppers, onions and mushrooms and served with a moist and soft arroz con crema. At this point, I started to wonder why my dress appeared to be shrinking.

Sweet Plantains
Rice and Beans
By the way, the entrees were served with traditional sides of sweet plantains, Mexican red rice and black beans that complemented the flavors of the dishes very well.

White & Dark Chocolate Fondue
Dark Chocolate Tamal
Did I have any room for dessert? Probably not but that wasn't stopping me, especially when I saw the visions of sweetness heading my way. I started off sampling the White & Dark Chocolate Fondue. This is a must-have not only for its combination of tastes  but for its presentation. The dish came served with churros, coconut macaroons, fluffy passion fruit marshmallows, bananas and strawberries; all ready to be dipped into decadent chocolate. Next, I sunk my spoon into the Dark Chocolate Tamal, a warm, soft chocolate cake, topped with caramel fudge sauce and crowned with Dulce de Leche ice-cream. Oh my, I can still remember... Finally, with a smile on my face, I sampled the Vanilla Caramel Flan. Aesthetically pleasing and with a mild, smooth finish, the creamy custard came accompanied with whipped cream, fresh berries and white chocolate pistachio chip.

Vanilla Caramel Flan

By the time this Mexican culinary fiesta came to a close, I could hear the imaginary mariachi playing in my head.  Since all of these dishes can be found in their daily menu, now I know where I'm going when I'm craving some authentic, flavorful Mexican food: Dos Caminos in Fort Lauderdale.  The food is fantastic, the staff is knowledgeable, the service is stellar, and the ambiance is perfect. For more information, you can contact them at 954-727-7090 or visit them online at

Dos Caminos (Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel) on Urbanspoon

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