After opening several family-friendly Mexican restaurants, including Jorge’s Margarita Factory in downtown Vancouver, restaurateur Jorge Castro realized his dream of creating a chic and exciting spot in his hometown: DosAlas Latin Kitchen & Tequila Bar.
On a recent Saturday night, I joined the beautiful people in this sparkling place. Several weeks before, all the 6 p.m. reservations on OpenTable had already been snapped up, but plenty of earlier or later times remained available. I chose 7:30 p.m.
One of the hostesses checked us in and we waited under a glittering cone-shaped chandelier. Heels clicked as dolled-up diners climbed the stairs to the restaurant.
Another hostess led us to a white leather cushioned booth by a window. The restaurant doesn’t use paper menus; diners instead upload the menu from a QR code on a card at the table.
Our server soon appeared. He explained that the restaurant offers small plates and shareables that come out as they are ready — not in the traditional order of appetizer, salad and entree — and advised us to order two plates per person. Throughout the evening, our server struck the perfect balance of appearing when we needed him without interrupting private conversation.
The menu includes a bounty of seafood, meat and veggies in various compositions. We ordered Hamachi Crudo ($24), Grilled Octopus ($32), ceviche ($17), Brazilian Cheese Bread ($8), Guajillo Mashed Potatoes ($12) and BBQ Carrots ($8).
All the dishes arrived gorgeously arranged on coral- or aqua-colored ceramic plates, some garnished with colorful swirls or dots of sauce, others with flowers.
First to come were the Guajillo Mashed Potatoes, tinged orange by the guajillo chiles. They yielded a creamy texture spiked with just a lick of fiery spice. The BBQ Carrots arrived at the same time — thin disks coated in an ancho chile rub, grilled, drizzled with an herby ranch dressing, and speckled with housemade barbecue spice.
Next came the cocktails. The ceramic Clase Azul vessels mounted at the dining-room entrance signal that this is a high-end tequila bar. Rare tequilas like Tesla ($300 a shot) and Cincoro ($220 a shot) appear on the menu, as well as tequilas in the $12-$16 per shot range.
Despite the tequila theme of the restaurant, I ordered the Purple Rain cocktail ($21). For this cocktail, prosecco, gin and the elderflower liqueur St. Germain rested in a champagne flute. The waiter poured butterfly pea powder (a kind of blue matcha tea) and edible glitter into the glass, turning the drink a sparkly purple. My date ordered the DA (DosAlas) margarita ($18). It came in a cut-glass cocktail shaker with enough liquid for an extra drink or two.
The next dishes seemed to appear just as we were finishing so there were never more than a couple plates of food on the table at a time.
The Grilled Octopus was a tangle of tender tentacles and roasted disks of fingerling potatoes resting on a pool of chorizo crema.
The golf-ball-sized orbs of Brazilian Cheese Bread are filled with cheese and drizzled with garlic butter and herbs.
The dough is made with tapioca starch, not wheat flour, so the cheese bread is light, airy and gluten-free.
We dipped the bread in leftover dressing from the carrots, a nice addition to the herbed coating.
The ceviche rotates. That night, it was made with small cubes of ahi tuna mixed to order with a citrus sauce, topped with pickled red onions and large round tortilla chips sprinkled with a Peruvian spice blend.
The only false note was the Hamachi Crudo. A scoop of mango and jalapeno sorbet topped thinly sliced petals of hamachi (Pacific yellowtail). An oil made with aji Amerillo peppers from Peru dotted each tip of hamachi. The sorbet added a refreshing note to the fish. The hamachi was fresh but a bit warmer than I like for raw fish, giving it a slight fishiness — a tiny misstep in an otherwise perfect meal.