Dorado RestaurantAddress: 2301 W. Foster Ave.
Dorado Restaurant (tucked away at 2301 W. Foster Ave.) is often referred to as a “hidden gem” by its fans who appreciate Chef Luis Perez’s unique take on fusion cuisine. The chef claims the cuisine is a blend of Mexican and French influences, but I found that Mediterranean flavors stood out during a recent visit with friends.
We started with the self-named Dorado Nachos ($8.95), which layer freshly fried corn chips with smoked duck, black beans, guacamole and lime sauce. The nachos are certainly worthy of a recommendation, but I found myself hoarding the special jicama salad ($8.95) we also ordered. Its lime dressing represented the Mexican end of the spectrum, but the fresh basil was the memorable touch that led me to try and recreate the salad at home.
French cuisine sometimes signifies skimpy portions to people, but Dorado serves hefty entrees that are both filling and flavorful. The entrees also have hefty prices considering the location, but the spot is BYOB ($2 corkage fee per person).
On this visit we tried the pork tenderloin with brandy-guajillo chile sauce ($19.95), the Carne Asada with chipotle sauce ($21.95), and the Chiles Rellenos, which were stuffed with a mixed seafood filling ($22.95). Most land animals on the menu are accompanied by a lip-smacking sweet potato mash (curiously spiced with oregano) and fresh vegetables. While I was pleasantly surprised that the stuffed chiles were not deadened by a deep-fried batter, the flavors were disappointingly subtle when compared to the other dishes.
We shrewdly saved room for Dorado’s house-made desserts ($7 each) by requesting to-go containers. I have soft spot for Tres Leches cake (everyone should try the moist confection at some point in their lives) and one of my companions is a connoisseur of bread pudding. Neither one of us was disappointed.
The French influence comes through most in the sauces, which is not surprising given Chef Perez’s training and experience in Chicago fine dining establishments. And his tightly run open kitchen provides an added bonus of entertainment and speculation during dinner. The restaurant describes its atmosphere as “cozy and festive,” but some diners might find the artwork to be less-than-authentic. Service is generally competent, pleasant and helpful, but the noise levels can turn date-night into a shouting match when the restaurant is full.