When I first heard that Duo’s Taqueria was owned by Duolingo, a language-learning app, I was skeptical. I thought the restaurant might be gimmicky, and the food would be uninspiring. I’m happy to report this is not the case. The entire menu is sensational and bursting with flavor.
Duo’s Taqueria is an inventive way for patrons to practice their Spanish with their servers and get a taste of Mexico City. Don’t worry if you can’t speak any Spanish; servers will happily take your order in English too.
Duo’s Taqueria first opened in 2022 as a takeout window. It wasn’t until this past May that they became a full-service restaurant helmed by Marcella Ogrodnik. Ogrodnik formerly worked at Cure and then opened Cafe Agnes, a pop-up that served fantastic pupusas and tamales.
The design of the restaurant is both cozy and open. They have intimate booths and couches tucked away in the front of the restaurant, then high ceilings and an open bar with ample seating for large groups in the back. The restaurant incorporates pops of color and gorgeous Mexican tile throughout. The whole space is calming and inviting.
Once you taste the food, you’ll truly believe you’ve hopped on a plane to Mexico City. The freshly made corn tortillas, the base of many of the restaurant’s dishes, have a slight nuttiness and are the perfect chewy texture when they aren’t fried to crisp perfection.
My dining partner and I started off with the guacamole, a good test of any Mexican restaurant. It was some of the best guacamole I’ve had in a while. It was delightfully creamy and had the perfect amount of tanginess from the lime juice. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, then this guacamole isn’t for you. Duo’s version had a copious amount of the controversial herb, along with freshly sliced jalapeño and onion. I appreciated that Duo’s took the more traditional route of preparing this guacamole and didn’t try to be fancy about it. The serving of guacamole is generous, so you’ll definitely need to ask your server for more freshly fried tortillas.
When I visited, Duo’s had esquites (street corn) on the menu, because there is nothing tastier than late summer corn. This version of the dish was incredibly inventive, and I’ve never seen it done this way before. This dish had the traditional elements of esquites, such as corn, a chipotle sour cream, cotija, and lime. What I’d never seen in any version of esquites before was the hulking bone in the center of the dish with chile paste erupting from it. Our server instructed us to mix the chile paste and the bone marrow inside the bone with the other ingredients, then mix it all together. The bone marrow added another savory element that paired well with the sweet corn. It also added some fattiness to the dish as well. The chile paste definitely added a kick that I appreciated with the other elements of flavors being more subtle.
I went with the saudero, or brisket, tacos for my main and was blown away at the flavor of these tacos. Brisket isn’t usually my go-to taco order, and boy have I been making a big mistake with that. Duo’s brisket is tender and dripping with all of the juices it was cooked in. All of the savory flavors present in the meat burst onto my tongue as soon as I took a bite. Duo’s tacos are served con todo or “with everything.” This means they have cilantro, onions, and salsa on top. The type of salsa varies from taco to taco. The suadero taco came with salsa arbol made with chiles de arbol, which are six times spicer than jalapenos. The salsa brought a nice heat, but it wasn’t anything over the top. Pro move: ask for cheese on your tacos. It’s baked onto the tortilla and forms this delightfully crunchy and salty shell. All of these delightful elements came together to create the perfect taco. This is a must-order when you visit.
We enjoyed the al pastor tacos and praised the tenderness of their pork. It fell apart at the touch of a fork. The al pastor tacos were served with a classic pineapple salsa roja, which enhanced the sweetness of the pork.
Throughout the meal, we had our fair share of drinks. We sampled the regular margarita, the pineapple margarita, and the paloma. All of the drinks were citrus-forward, but they definitely could have been a bit stronger. The food was so outstanding that we didn’t mind this too much.
Duo’s Taqueria is a stand-out restaurant. They have some of the best tacos in the city right now. They have both unique and classic takes on a variety of dishes. Next time I visit, I want to try the pollo rostizado, or roast chicken, served with salsa pasilla (made with chile negro), the tostada de atún made with tuna, and the flan. I’m looking forward to see how Duo’s Taqueria menu evolves over the coming months.