I found a better alternative to Chipotle in New York City - and it could be expanding soon

Dos Toros 5

Hollis Johnson

Their burrito bowls look delicious, but are they up to Chipotle standards?

Chipotle is the number one burrito chain in the game.

But in New York City, it may have some competition.

Dos Toros, founded in 2009 by brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer, is looking to carve out a chunk of the market. Advertisement

The NYC chain is self-funded - no outside investors or nest eggs, just a business loan and family and friends- and is expected to earn $20 million this year.

And considering its popularity, the brothers are looking to expand elsewhere as soon as possible. "We can open five a year for the next five years, and move to multiple cities," Leo recently told Entrepreneur.

With nine locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan - one just opened its doors in the Financial District - and plans to saturate Midtown, Dos Toros seems unstoppable.
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I decided to head to the nearest one to see why this local chain is exploding, and to find out if it can survive elsewhere in a pretty competitive Mexican fast-casual market.

It's a chilly night — perfect to warm up with some Tex-Mex food at this Dos Toros on 23rd and Park Avenue.

It's a chilly night — perfect to warm up with some Tex-Mex food at this Dos Toros on 23rd and Park Avenue.

The interior feels cozy and rich with vibrant red walls and natural wood everywhere.

The interior feels cozy and rich with vibrant red walls and natural wood everywhere.
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I'm hungry, so I step right up for my order. I'll choose a chicken plato — their name for a burrito bowl — and a steak quesadilla.

I'm hungry, so I step right up for my order. I'll choose a chicken plato — their name for a burrito bowl — and a steak quesadilla.

You heard right: Dos Toros serves quesadillas, a big difference from Chipotle. The prices are similar, except adding guacamole is much cheaper. Adding guac costs $0.92 — except with tacos, where it only costs $0.42.

You heard right: Dos Toros serves quesadillas, a big difference from Chipotle. The prices are similar, except adding guacamole is much cheaper. Adding guac costs $0.92 — except with tacos, where it only costs $0.42.
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The set up is exactly like Chipotle's, with the line moving down as you choose what goes into your delicious meal. Another difference, however, is their rice. It's a richly flavored yellow rice that tastes much more savory than Chipotle's signature cilantro lime recipe.

The set up is exactly like Chipotle's, with the line moving down as you choose what goes into your delicious meal. Another difference, however, is their rice. It's a richly flavored yellow rice that tastes much more savory than Chipotle's signature cilantro lime recipe.

A quick and easy ordering process, and I have my pollo asado plato and my carne asada quesadilla — which is rolled up, essentially making it a loosely packed burrito.

A quick and easy ordering process, and I have my pollo asado plato and my carne asada quesadilla — which is rolled up, essentially making it a loosely packed burrito.
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While Chipotle's burritos and bowls generally have a light, crisp overall taste to them. Dos Toros goes for rich and savory. This is where Dos Toros' sauces come into play: with choices of verde, smokey, or habanero, there are a few ways your burrito experience can go.

While Chipotle's burritos and bowls generally have a light, crisp overall taste to them. Dos Toros goes for rich and savory. This is where Dos Toros' sauces come into play: with choices of verde, smokey, or habanero, there are a few ways your burrito experience can go.

I chose the smokey sauce, which is precisely that. It's rich with a smoked barbecue taste, and with a slight but noticeable spicy kick to it as well. It melds perfectly with the cooling crema and guacamole as well as adding additional smokiness to the tender and well-seasoned chicken.

I chose the smokey sauce, which is precisely that. It's rich with a smoked barbecue taste, and with a slight but noticeable spicy kick to it as well. It melds perfectly with the cooling crema and guacamole as well as adding additional smokiness to the tender and well-seasoned chicken.
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The steak quesadilla is pretty packed with ingredients. I expected a flat, classic quesadilla, but this is really a loose burrito with extra cheese in it, which is far from a bad thing. That being said, very difficult to eat as it falls apart quickly.

The steak quesadilla is pretty packed with ingredients. I expected a flat, classic quesadilla, but this is really a loose burrito with extra cheese in it, which is far from a bad thing. That being said, very difficult to eat as it falls apart quickly.

The chain composts its utensils and food.

The chain composts its utensils and food.
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But the steak is juicy and cooked perfectly, and the rich cheese makes it an incredibly filling meal. I'm pretty impressed.

But the steak is juicy and cooked perfectly, and the rich cheese makes it an incredibly filling meal. I'm pretty impressed.

If you're in a jam, the napkins provide a step–by–step guide to tackling your burrito or quesadilla. Luckily, I managed to pull through without it.

If you're in a jam, the napkins provide a step–by–step guide to tackling your burrito or quesadilla. Luckily, I managed to pull through without it.
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The serving sizes are comparable to Chipotle, meaning they're huge and filling. I barely finished, but it was so good I had to keep going.

The serving sizes are comparable to Chipotle, meaning they're huge and filling. I barely finished, but it was so good I had to keep going.

Dos Toros — once again, just like Chipotle — makes sustainability a major pillar of their business model. Frankly, you can taste it: the veggies are fresh, and the meat is done right, which is a nod to the kitchen staff as much as it is their sources.

Dos Toros — once again, just like Chipotle — makes sustainability a major pillar of their business model. Frankly, you can taste it: the veggies are fresh, and the meat is done right, which is a nod to the kitchen staff as much as it is their sources.
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Dos Toros is looking to expand beyond the NYC market, and if they manage to keep their current model of good food fast, they can easily make it elsewhere.

Dos Toros is looking to expand beyond the NYC market, and if they manage to keep their current model of good food fast, they can easily make it elsewhere.