Foodie Call #3 took place on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. Yes, it’s our third adventure but the first we’re documenting (we’ll get back to the first two someday). For this one, we decided on a twofer – dinner and dessert. Kate heard about Dos Toros Taqueria from reading the New York Times $25 and Under column and thought it’d be a good (and cheap) place to try. Gary agreed and his judgement was affirmed when he read the very thorough Serious Eats review. For dessert, Kate wanted to try what Gary staunchly believes are the best cupcakes in Manhattan – Sugar Sweet Sunshine.
Dos Toros Taqueria
Gary: So the first thing that I notice when we walked into Dos Toros was the line: it went nearly all the way back to the entrance. Granted, this was a small place–seats for maybe 20 people and the line was eight-deep–but it’s clearly a popular spot. Considering the state of burritos in the Union Square area where Chipotle on St. Mark’s is the closest place I can think of, there’s a niche to be filled. With two people constructing the burrito (one warmed the tortilla and added the rice, beans, and meat while the other added the sour cream, guacamole, and other sauces), the line moved quickly and, less than ten minutes later, we had our burritos.
Kate: When we walked in and saw the number of people lined up as well as the sparse number of tables, I immediately threw myself over a just-vacated on, instructing Gary to stand in line to order for me while I guarded our precious spot. Having read the $25 and Under column a couple of times and checking out Dos Toros’ website like the big food nerd that I am, I had my order all ready: “get me the “basic” burrito (meaning no meat), easy on the cheese (because why not? it comes with sour cream as well), as far as beans, um, ask them which are the best, and a Pacifico, no, wait, a Tecate, no… Pacifico!” In the review, Oliver Strand mentioned the cheap Tecate, so in my fantasy of the burrito experience, I was drinking a cold beer out of a can. But then I saw that they also had Pacifico, a detail I had missed on the website (they also have Corona, FYI). Oh dear. Being indecisive by nature, and a food and beer lover, this was by far my most important decision of the day, and not to be taken lightly. Turns out I needn’t have been in such a frenzy to choose. The line moved pretty slow–not frustratingly so, it was just that we weren’t at Chipotle (thank God), and I had several minutes to decide. Also, a couple more seats vacated as I waited–this isn’t the kind of ambience that makes you want to linger. By the time Gary had reached the front of the line, I had gone back and forth about my beer choice about six or eight times and I was confident in my choice (Pacifico). He began ordering and turned back to me “hot sauce?” he inquired. Oh no! A detail I had forgotten to consider! I played it safe and declined.
Kate: If burritos can “melt in your mouth,” this one definitely did. The soft, warm tortilla tore off nicely with minimal effort, a detail that Gary pointed out. The pinto beans (which were recommended) were soft and light, the guac had a super fresh taste– the flavors of cilantro and lime stood out. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Still, if I were to do it over again, I would say yes to the hot sauce. Fearing that it would be so hot that I wouldn’t be able to taste the burrito, I opted out for the first time. But with no meat, and no grilled veggies or anything to give it some more spice it was the tiniest bit bland. Okay, it was bland. I salted it (which is normal for me, I salt my salt), and it was still lacked something. Next time, I’ll def say “yes” to hot sauce. (Note: I went back and read Strand’s review. He said that the hot sauce is “as much about flavor as firepower.” ) So much for being prepared. Oh well, I’ll just have to go back.
Gary: I had the Pollo Asada (chicken) burrito and, like Kate, I got it with the pinto beans and guacamole. Owing to my aversion of most things dairy, my burrito did not have any cheese or sour cream. As you can tell, I really enjoyed my burrito. The rice was fluffy and the chicken had a very nice charred flavor. A very good burrito which, combined with a bottle of Tecate, a satisfying and inexpensive meal. I might ask for the hot sauce next time but at least I didn’t have to go to the salt like some people (*cough* Kate *cough*).
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
Gary: After finishing our burritos and beers, it was off to the Lower East Side for cupcakes at Sugar Sweet Sunshine. We walked through the door to find that we had gotten there with just minutes to spare before closing for the night. We quickly made our selection of four cupcakes – Sunshine (yellow cake/vanilla buttercream), Pistachio (pistachio cake/satin buttercream), Lemon Yummy (lemon cake/lemon buttercream), Black & White…Just Right (chocolate cake/vanilla buttercream). Kate managed to cut the cupcakes into halves and we were even able to eat the Sunshine before we were ushered out of the door. Luckily, there was a bench outside for us to finish the last three cupcakes in way too short a span of time. My favorite cupcake of the night (any night, really) was the Lemon Yummy – I just love the acidic bite of the icing as a change of pace. Of course, Sunshine is a classic that you really can’t go wrong with.
Kate: The only thing I love more than cupcakes is cake, so I was excited to try the famed SSS for the first time, which several respected friends have been recommending for years. After ordering and splitting, we started at the top (for me) The namesake cupcake the Sunshine. I’m a bit of a purist (or picky, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to cupcakes and cake, and my favorite flavor is classic vanilla on vanilla. Holy shit did they hit they nail on the head on that one! Flavorful and moist cake, not too dense, but not too light, creamy, sweet (but not disgustingly sweet) frosting and plenty of it. I was in heaven. The other three were nice too, especially the Black and White, which is my second favorite flavor– chocolate cake, vanilla frosting, and they did that one expertly too. As far as the lemon and pistachio, they were nice, although I’m just not so much of a fan of the “silken” frosting. It looks great, it’s just ultimately not that satisfying (for me at least). It’s like that beautiful wedding cake that you can’t wait to try a slice of, and then it comes to you with that jelly stuff on the inside. Wah wah waaah.
Gary: Foodie Call #3 was an unqualified success with both ends being equally satisfying by their own merits. Both Kate and I agree that the burritos were great but could have used an extra kick from the potent (so they’re told) hot sauce. The cupcakes were a mixed bag with each enjoying the Sunshine immensely but differing in opinion on the less traditional flavors. Bottom line, if you do both Dos Toros and Sugar Sweet Sunshine in one shot, put some hot sauce (or if you’re like Kate, salt) on your burrito, stick with the more traditional cupcakes, and you’re set.