In the three months since its opening, Dos Amigos has gained a reputation for its Mexican food-truck fare, and on a typical weekend night, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a lively crowd waiting under its white signs. “I was told great things about these churros,” customer Claudia Steck ’16 said, “and I definitely haven’t been let down.”
The brain child of students David Farahi ’16 and Jorge Bouras ’15, Dos Amigos aims to serve authentic Mexican food, Cali-style — no lettuce, no tomatoes, just simple ingredients that you’d find in a taco from Mexico. Inspired by a love of food trucks and a passion for Mexican tacos, the duo originally came up with the plan in a Hotel school course. They later worked with Sam Epps, chef and co-owner of Italian restaurant Gola Osteria, to create recipes as faithful to those in Mexico and Southern California as possible. After settling on some slight alterations (purple onions instead of white, sharp cheddar cheese instead of Queso Oaxaca) the truck became a reality this past August. It has since taken on a personality of its own with the help of Dos Amigos’s Creative Director Nicole Hamilton ’16, who developed the menu’s hip-hop-inspired theme.
With four options (the Notorious P.I.G., Gringo, Chicki Minaj and Chief Beef), the tacos are the main attraction here. The Notorious P.I.G. is a personal favorite. The slow-roasted pork, tossed with fresh cilantro and crunchy purple onions, topped with a creamy jalapeño sauce (aptly named The Chronic after Dr. Dre’s legendary 1992 album), atop two warm and fragrant house-made corn tortillas, makes for a colorful sight. Like its counterparts, it embodies bold flavors, textures and ingredients. The Gringo provides a vegetarian option, filled with plump portabella mushrooms, cilantro and onions, topped with Big Red roasted salsa that turns up the heat an extra notch. The popular Chicki Minaj, with a milder Busta Limes tomatillo sauce, is a tamer choice. Seasoned with adobo spices, the taco comes with the standard fixings and is enhanced with an extra squeeze of lime.
Of the quesadillas, Farahi recommends a combination of the Roastface Killah, fire-grilled marinated steak and cheddar cheese, and the Schoolboy Shroom, sautéed portabella mushrooms and cheddar cheese. The combination brings together the earthiness of juicy portabella mushrooms and the meatiness of gently charred cuts of steak with melted cheddar cheese pressed between two flour tortillas, lightly browned and slightly crisped. These quesadillas pair well with the Guaca Flaka Flame, a simple guacamole made with a blend of avocado, cilantro and lime.
Although savory options make up the bulk of the menu, Dos Amigos doesn’t forget to include dessert. The Sug Knight churros are a must-try. Served hot, you can taste the grease in the best possible sense. Coated generously in cinnamon and sugar, the bite-sized pieces go down with an initial crunch, followed by the chewiness of a soft, warm and doughy center.
Asked how he and Bouras balance their time, Farahi said, “Now, instead of going to parties and going to school, our priorities are doing work and going to school. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of help from our crew.” Their dedication to providing quality Mexican food is evident, and the food speaks for itself. Every bit of TLC and passion that Farahi and Bouras have for Mexican fare comes through in their freshly prepared, aesthetically pleasing and flavorful food, and their success thus far in bringing authentic Mexican food to the streets of Ithaca is a testament to their vision and drive. Farahi notes, “People want something hip, new, fresh and interesting,” and that’s exactly what they’ve brought to Collegetown and the Ithaca community.