MERIDEN — Francisco Espinosa always had the dream of running his own restaurant. Now, he serves authentic Mexican and Puerto Rican cuisines with the help of his wife, Areli Hernández, and daughter Allison Espinosa.
The restaurant, Dos Sabores, opened two months ago and is at 234 Pratt St., where the Puerto Rican eatery Bite Me once operated.
The previous owners, Elvin Torres and Magaly Galicia, decided to sell their restaurant in order to dedicate time to their other business, Caribbean Painting Company LLC. The couple still owns the building.
“I love the restaurant but it took too much of my time,” Torres said. “My other business was very busy and we couldn’t do the two.”
Prior to owning the restaurant, Espinosa, 44, worked in construction. The couple had no experience in running a restaurant, but were taught by Galicia and Torres.
“My husband's friends had offered for him to take over the restaurant,” Hernandez, 39, said. “And so we accepted and everything changed at the beginning of June.”
Although the owners are Mexican, they decided to continue serving Puerto Rican food due to Bite Me having loyal customers.
The couple kept Puerto Rican fried foods like alcapurrias, relleno de papa and empanadas filled with pizza, steak, chicken, shrimp, and cheese. Mofongo and canoas de platano (stuffed plantains) are also available.
“We also noticed that in the morning, people enjoyed getting their oatmeal and the sandwiches so we kept those as well,” Hernandez said.
Before opening, the new cooks were trained on how to make authentic Puerto Rican food, according to Torres.
Slowly, the couple started integrating their own menu and now have around 16 dishes.
Hernandez moved from Puebla, Mexico, in 1989 and Espinosa moved from Tehuitzingo, Mexico, in 1995.
A variety of Mexican dishes are served like tacos, tortas, cemitas, sopes, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, chilaquiles and flautas.
Everything is served fresh, according to Hernandez.
“The empanadas are made fresh every day and are to order. We pride ourselves in serving fresh and authentic food,” she said.
José Colón, a regular customer, stops by the restaurant every day during his lunch break.
“Their hospitality is amazing. I always have a great experience,” he said. “The shrimp empanadas are the best I’ve ever had.”
Colón used to eat at another restaurant, but when he found Dos Sabores, he started ordering their food every day.
The restaurant does not serve alcohol as they want a family-friendly environment.
Dos Sabores is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (203) 440-4747.