Ever since Dos Rios Cantina opened up on Court Street, both University students and Binghamton residents alike have been able to enjoy quality Mexican food and drinks from their large selection. For Restaurant Week, Dos Rios offers many of their regular menu items in a special fixed-price menu for only $25.
I decided to go with a classic chips and guac for the appetizer, a grilled carne asada for the entree (which added $4 to the fixed price) and tres leches cake for the dessert.
Although it would seem like it is easy to create a tasty guacamole, not all restaurants manage to pull it off correctly. The usual mistakes include under-salting, under-seasoning, not including enough lime or just starting with bad-quality avocados. Fortunately, Dos Rios gets it right. The guacamole-to-chip ratio was perfect, as I finished both of them at the same time — a rare feat. The guac comes with a slice of lime for those who love some extra acidity. The chips are crisp and crunchy without much flavor on their own. I personally added some salt to the chips, but some customers may like the bland taste to really bring out the flavors of the guacamole.
Before I was finished with the nicely portioned appetizer, my main entree had already arrived. Immediately, I mentioned to the photographer, Jake, that the steak was cooked perfectly according to my requests. The grilled carne asada comes with a marinated grilled sirloin steak, rice, black bean and corn farrago, peppers and onions, as well as chimichurri sauce. Although the sirloin steak was clearly the star of the show, the rice, peppers and onions combined for a brilliant side. Once again, I added salt to the sides, which made them more flavorful. For those who are as curious as I was about what a corn farrago is, it seemed to be a simple corn and bean salad with onions and tomatoes. The sour green sauce complemented the melt-in-your-mouth steak very well, as well as all the other elements of the entree. For those who do not like sour sauces and would instead prefer some heat, Dos Rios has tabasco sauce on every table. The special scorpion tabasco had a pineapple flavor and was a lot to handle, even for someone who enjoys spice as much as I do, so use it with caution.
In addition to the steak meal, I tried a cauliflower street-style taco from Jake’s order of three. The combination of cauliflower, red cabbage, pickled shallots and lime crema on flour tacos worked well together. Even though I really enjoyed the carne asada, next time I go to Dos Rios, I will order their tacos.
As I finished the meal, and my mouth was still hot from the tabasco sauce, the tres leches cake arrived. The cake, which is made with three different types of milk (evaporated, condensed and fresh), was very cold and soothing. The cake was incredibly moist, and the sponge was soused with a sweet milk sauce. The top of the cake had white ganache and was decorated with chocolate sauce.
Jake and I had a great experience at Dos Rios not only because of the great food, but also because of the atmosphere in the restaurant. The decorations and lighting create a cheerful and lighthearted mood, and everyone seemed to be talking with their friends and enjoying the moment. I will be going back to Dos Rios before Restaurant Week is over.