On our way to catch a show at the Warner Theater in Torrington, a
friend and I spotted Dos Amigos, an unassuming Tex-Mex place on busy
East Main Street. It was 5:30 on a Thursday night, and the parking lot
was fairly crowded, so we figured we'd give it a try. That proved a wise
move. This cheerful cantina provided a cheap, filling and tasty meal.
It's no wonder locals like it.
The vibe: Classic south-of-the-border schmaltz, from the cactus decals, the Frida Kahlo print and the obligatory sombrero hanging on the peach-colored walls to traditional music piped over the sound system. Sophisticated this is not. The dining room is also a bit loud, which makes it a good bet for families with young children.
The food: We were greeted with a basket of tortilla chips and a bowl of surprisingly zingy salsa. The chips were warm and nearly greaseless; they didn't last long. Everyone around us seemed to be ordering the fajitas, something we realized when we heard the steady hiss of various forms of meat on hot, cast-iron griddles. So we followed suit. The carnivore at the table chose chicken and was not disappointed. The thin strips of tender white meat shared a sizzling platter with multi-colored sliced peppers and chunks of tomato. Tucked into a warm flour tortilla and topped with cheese and a dollop of sour cream, it was fresh-tasting and delicious. The meal was rounded out with a side of refried beans.
Mexican restaurants traditionally are a smart bet for vegetarians, and Dos Amigos is no exception. Many of the tacos, burritos and enchiladas can be ordered without meat. I went with the bean burrito, a large flour tortilla stuffed with refried beans and topped with a tangy tomato sauce and a blanket of melted cheese. The dish normally comes with rice, but our waitress thoughtfully alerted me that the rice was cooked in chicken stock, a warning I appreciated.
Most entrees are available a la carte or as part of a sampler or combo plate. The restaurant has several reasonably priced kids' offerings, including chicken strips and hot dogs for youngsters who won't try tacos and quesadillas.
If you have a sweet tooth, save room for one of the over-the-top desserts. Several of the choices are variations on a theme: fried ice cream, ice cream chimi and something called a cheesecake chimi, a flour tortilla stuffed with cheesecake, lightly fried and rolled in cinnamon-sugar. We went with the sopapilla, but even this was an indulgence: a crisp disc of fried dough, covered with cinnamon-sugar, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of honey and a fluffy crown of whipped cream
About the only thing we tried that we didn't like was the guacamole. Pale green and lacking the bright spark of garlic and lime juice, it was surprisingly uninspiring and certainly not what you'd expect at a top-notch Tex-Mex place.
The prices: It's easy to fill up here without spending a bundle. The priciest dishes on the menu are two steak offerings, at $14.95 a piece. Almost all the other entrees range from $8.95 to $10.95. Portions are generous. Appetizers are about $5 and around $4.
The verdict: Fantastic though hardly a secret: by the time we left at 6:45 p.m., the place was packed.