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SHEX Reviews: Dos Locos

 

Writer

Sonia Su

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Under the management of Chinese-American Charles Zeng, who also owns Piro Restaurant and Bar and Captain Rooster, Dos Locos opened in January 2014 with the slogan ‘Crazy Good Burritos.’ From burgers at Piro to burritos at Dos Locos, Zeng says he likes running restaurants which serve simple food that he can cook, as well. Zeng didn't deny the influence of American chain Chipotle in helping him conceive the idea behind Dos Locos.

The ceiling is covered with the message ‘Be Amazing,’ in glittering bright red lights. Quotes from Apple’s Steve Jobs and rapper Jay Z, among others, line one wall, while posters displaying slogans such as ‘Made By People, Not Machines’ line another. The music, mostly American pop, might be played a little loud for some tastes.

Complete with red menus, wooden tables and ‘honest ingredients,’ Dos Locos also offers many of its Western counterparts’ counter service menu items, from white tortillas and burrito bowls to grilled chicken (55 RMB), beef barbacoa (65 RMB), and pork carnitas (55 RMB). Items you don’t see on Chipotle’s menu, however, include Dos Locos’ panini wraps, fresh pineapple salsa toppings, desserts and, yes, alcoholic beverages (25-45 RMB). And trust me, just the names—‘pot’ brownie and caffeinated chocolate chip cookies—of its two desserts (20 RMB each) are enough to entice anyone. (But if you’re wondering, the generously portioned brownies are flavored with nothing but decadent chocolate.)

You can begin ordering by choosing any of the six bases: burrito, burrito bowl, tacos (three white tortillas), panini wrap or nachos.

Next, choose one of the ‘mains.’ According to the menu, the organic, hormone-free grilled chicken breast is brined then marinated overnight in its smoky chipotle adobo. Another meat option is the pork carnitas, simmered with a variety of spices for a moist, tender and flavorful bite. For an extra 10 RMB, try the imported Australian beef, which is braised for hours in its spicy chipotle adobo with cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano. Not a fan of meat? Opt for a vegetarian burrito(65 RMB) with fresh, hand-mashed guacamole. And if you’re feeling particularly ravenous, add more chicken or pork carnitas for an extra 15 RMB or beef for 25 RMB.

Finally, finish off your unique creation with any or all of the toppings (sour cream costs 10 RMB, guacamole is 15 RMB).

I went for the burrito with brown rice, beef barbacoa, fresh pineapple salsa, corn chili salsa and lettuce, all wrapped in a warmed wheat tortilla. The beef could have been more generously spread out, as my first bite lacked the succulent meat. Nonetheless, the sweet pineapple salsa contrasted nicely with the salty yet moist beef. Especially if you add a lot of toppings, be prepared to enjoy the filling burrito with a few napkins on hand.

Despite Chipotle-style influences, Dos Locos separates itself with an innovative mindset. Whereas Chipotle rarely makes any menu changes, the Dos Locos management are willing to adjust their offerings as they see fit. Karen Yang, Zeng’s PR and marketing director, tells us the restaurant decided to add panini wraps, which do not have rice or beans, to cater to some customers who prefer to avoid rice.

Starting in March, Zeng hopes to add more variety to Dos Locos’ offerings with curry pork carnitas and hummus.

Plus, come during the weekday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to get one can of coke or diet coke and a bag of lime tortilla chips for just 15 RMB (normally 30 RMB). Or stop by for happy hour any day of the week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for deals on drinks, such as Rogue Dead Guy for 25 RMB (normally 45 RMB) and six Coronas for 100 RMB (normally 150 RMB).

Shanghai Expat says:

Location: At 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu, the restaurant is near the Jingan Temple metro station and down at the basement level Jing’an Kerry Center. Just one location at present, although delivery is available via Sherpas. 8/10

Food and menu: Basic influences from Chipotle’s simple and fresh ingredients, along with its own unique twists and additions, including filling desserts and alcoholic beverages. 7/10

Environment: Décor again reminiscent of Chipotle, but positive quotes lining the walls make for a very casual atmosphere. 6/10

Value for money: Expect to pay about 100 RMB for a meal, including drinks and desserts (they’re a must). For a copycat Mexican fast-casual restaurant, the prices are pretty steep, but you definitely won’t leave hungry for more food. As a loyal Chipotle customer, I prefer Chipotle for both its taste and value (it’s a few dollars cheaper in the U.S.). 6.5/10

Find Dos Locos in our listings here.

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