After slow start, Dos Batos gaining ground at North Cross Mall

The pirata taco is the most popular menu item.

The pirata taco is the most popular menu item.

Dos Batos Customers can opt for a salad topped with grilled meat.[/caption]

The first time Nathali Luna dined at Dos Batos, she fell in love with its mesquite-grilled meat wrapped in warm homemade tortillas—so much so that she applied for a job at Dos Batos soon thereafter, she said.

Luna is now the store’s general manager, and after a five-year span during which the Mexican restaurant was sputtering, business has picked back up, especially after Dos Batos began offering catering services a couple years ago, she said.

“Most people who live in the neighborhood have never seen or heard about us,” Luna said.

But she said word is spreading about the counter-service eatery whose most popular menu item is called a pirata, or pirate in Spanish. The grilled meat taco comes with cheese and avocado, and when ordered in a combo it is served with charro beans and tortilla chips along with a soft drink. Chicken, steak, vegetable and other varieties are available.

Also offered are Mexican sandwiches known as tortas, Mexican corn in a cup, salads and beer. The business has also become known for its michelada, beer typically mixed with clam-tomato cocktail juice, but Dos Batos’ version is made with the establishment’s homemade salsa. Children’s meals; homemade desserts; and beverages, such as limeade, Topo Chico and Mexican Coke, are also sold.

Wood-fired Grill Dos Batos owner Javier Gracia is from Monterrey, Mexico, and although the taco shop aims to deliver an authentically south-of-the-border quality, it also brings a Central Texas flavor with its wood-fired grill. Dos Batos grills chicken, steak and vegetables in addition to smoking serrano peppers for homemade salsa.[/caption]

Owner Javier Gracia opened the restaurant in 2010. The Mexico native moved back to Monterrey, Mexico, to open three different restaurant concepts in the city.

Luna said although Gracia only gets to visit about twice a year, his urging of making fresh, high-quality food remains a focal point for the store.

“What he wanted was quality over quantity,” she said. “That’s his motto.”

Dos Batos The pirata taco is the most popular menu item.[/caption]

Dos Batos is very close in spelling to dos vatos, meaning "two dudes" in Spanish. However, the word vato has a negative connotation as it is often used by gang members. To avoid that affiliation Gracia, who opened the business with a partner, used an alternate spelling, Luna said. After celebrating its seventh year in business March 1, Dos Batos is looking for investors to begin a franchise, Luna said. She said a location in Southwest Austin has been considered.