In the world of upscale New York Mexican mini-chain restaurants, Dos Caminos is on top of the heap, up there with Rosa Mexicano. Dos Caminos has five locations in New York City along with one in Atlantic City and another in Fort Lauderdale, and it’s well-regarded for its fun menu, good cocktails, and laid-back atmosphere. If you’re going to Dos Caminos, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to have a good time. Unless, that is, you go to the newest location, which recently opened in Times Square: The quality of the food, drink, and service aren’t quite on par with the other locations, unfortunately, and the basement-level dining room leaves a lot to be desired. We’re not saying you should avoid Dos Caminos entirely, but we strongly suggest that you visit a different location; the one on Third Avenue is our personal favorite.
The bi-level space is made up of a portion of the area that was previously the Blue Fin, as well as the windowless basement. On the main level you definitely feel like a part of the Times Square action, but it fills up quickly so get there early. If you’re having dinner instead of just drinks, you’ll be sent downstairs to a second host stand, past a second bar and into the main dining room, which is oddly laid out (there were plenty of giant booths, but they were all empty upon a recent visit), harshly lit, and strangely unwelcoming. We were wedged into a two-top directly next to another party; even though a four-top was open right next to us we were told we couldn’t sit there because a party of four was coming, but that table remained vacant throughout our meal.
To drink, I opted for the Cadillac margarita, a drink I’ve had countless times at other Dos Caminos in the city; this one was so sweet it was hard to finish. There were upsides: The ceviche sampler was a great way to start the meal, fresh and flavorful; and the mangalitsa panuchos (roasted pork atop soft tostadas) were classic and comforting. The enchiladas (topped with mole poblano and green tomatillo sauces) are my go-to at Dos Caminos, and they were also exactly what I was hoping for. The carnitas tacos (pictured) were very light on the filling, however, and what was almost inedibly spicy.
The timing of the service was also off; the entrees were brought out while we were only halfway through with our appetizers, and the server silently put them down on the empty table next to us after a few confused moments (the first time that I’d ever encountered this at a restaurant). When we were finished with the apps we swapped the plates out, but the entrees were cold by this point, and the appetizer plates remained on the table next to us until the end of the meal. Also, at no point did the server or manager check on us to see how the meal was progressing.
So yes, there are certainly some kinks to work out at the new Dos Caminos Times Square, but unfortunately without a complete redesign I doubt the experience will ever live up to what we’ve come to expect from the restaurant’s other outposts. If you’re planning on visiting, maybe just grab a drink in the upstairs bar and then walk 15 minutes to the Third Avenue location. This one is best left to the tourists.