The goods: Upscale Mexican lands in Broward with the opening of Dos Caminos at The Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale. The dark and sexy spot occupies a corridor-like space in the renovated Yankee Clipper hotel steps from Fort Lauderdale beach. This is the first Florida outpost of the New York-based chain and there’s a big-city feel to the proceedings.
Ambience: A cave-like bar features over a hundred varieties of tequila while high-top tables are offset by dimly lit Aztec lanterns. Dark brick walls, burgundy booths and painted Mexican skulls give the dining room a Day of the Dead meets urban bistro vibe. There’s outdoor seating on the oceanfront veranda if you’re in the mood for salty breezes and traffic noise.
The grub: Stylized South-of-the-Border food. Expect fresh-pounded guacamole served in molcajete bowls, strong margaritas (made with cucumbers and mango) and belly-filling portions of modern Mexican cooking. Prices are reasonable given the beachfront hotel location: starters can be had from $11 and most entrees are under $20.
Dinner starts with a basket of complimentary chips and a trio of salsas – a mild tomatillo, the more fiery roasted tomato with chiles and a spicy habanero dip. From there, it’s on to chunky guacamoles (available with chiles) and hearty appetizers like generously stuffed plantain empanadas filled with black beans and cojita cheese and a snapper ceviche marinated in tomatoes, olives and serrano chiles. Basic tacos come filled with grilled mahi-mahi, chipotle-marinated steak and slow-roasted pork, while the more interesting “tacos en cazuela” are served in small cast-iron pots and include a Lamb Barbacoa flavored with mint-jalapeno sauce and a conchita pibil – a Yucatan-style pork with habanero-pickled red onions. Most taco entrees come with generous sides of saffron rice and black beans. Don’t miss the traditional Mexico City “street corn,” served on the cob and slathered with lime-spiked mayonnaise.
Desserts include a forgettable chocolate fondue served with slices of bananas, strawberries and mini-churros. Stick with a scoop house made Mexican chocolate ice cream, fragrant with cinnamon.
Verdict: Modern Mexican food in a raucous saloon-like setting.