It's unfair to review brand-new restaurants, and yet I found myself dining at Dorado Tacos & Cemitas, a casual, counter-service Mexican joint near Coolidge Corner, just days after its debut. I was curious to see how Dorado would do with fish tacos, the Baja, California, taqueria standby that New England chefs rarely get quite right. More important, I couldn't wait to try a cemita ($5.99), the popular street-food sandwich from Puebla. I'm happy to report that Dorado does a fantastic job with this complicated sandwich that layers black beans, chipotle adobo, oaxaca cheese (shreddy and mozzarella-like), cilantro, and avocado on a good, round sesame-seed bun.
You pick a filling as your cemita's center layer: grilled portabella (beefy), chorizo (more on this below), grilled sirloin (excellent), the very traditional pork loin Milanesa (a thin cutlet overwhelmed by its breadcrumb coating), or grilled marinated chicken (so delicious I nearly ordered another). In its originality and complex interplay of flavors and textures, it's a bit like a Chilean chacarero without the chili heat. Fish tacos ($2.49/one) come in three variations, the Enseñada best evoking the classic Baja original: beer-battered, deep-fried strips of pollock, thin-sliced green cabbage, crema (a sour-cream dressing), fresh salsa, and lime on two layers of soft corn tortillas. The shrimp taco ($2.69) has three big shrimp that benefit less from batter-frying; better seafood flavor comes through in the grilled swordfish ($2.69). My favorite might be the chorizo taco ($2.49), built on a fatty, crumbled pork sausage with a tanginess and sweet spices reminiscent of Turkish lamejun, plus guacamole and fresh salsa. But the tortillas need further grilling to lose their slightly raw flavor.
Elote ($1.99), corn on the cob grilled to caramelized brownness, is a superb side dish. It's coated with mayo, lime, ancho chili, and cotija cheese: a messy delight. The whole rotisserie chicken ($9.99) is a bit puny, barely a pound and a half, but beautifully browned, crisp-skinned, and still moist throughout, with a hint of cinnamon in its marinade. Drink options include beautiful agua frescas ($1.75) of watermelon (tasting of fresh fruit) and jamaica (a tangy hibiscus-flower/ginger tisane) as well as Mexican sodas ($1.75). The spare, sun-filled room boasts cheerful colors, two four-tops, and 12 counter seats. Despite the expected shakedown-cruise slowness of service, I expect Dorado will catch fire. Its clever amplification of Mexican and border street-food flavors with fresh, high-quality ingredients is worth enduring a wait.
Dorado Tacos & Cemitas, located at 401 Harvard Street, in Brookline, is open daily, 11 am–10 pm. Call 617.566.2100.