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Starters: From Dock at the Bay to Dos Amigos

For years, Dock at the Bay was known for beer, bands and volleyball bouts – plus a panoramic view of Lake Erie.

Food? Not so much.

When the place at 3800 Hoover Road, Hamburg, changed hands last year and became The Dock Waterfront Bar & Grill, the emphasis did not change much. But that changed when the restaurant opened last week as Dos Amigos.

The lake is as alluring as ever, but now food is a bigger part of the draw.

The former Dock at the Bay has been reborn as a Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Owners Jay Pasquarella and Angelo Canna already have a waterfront success with the upscale Italian menu of Lucia's on the Lake, just a mile south along the shore. At Dos Amigos, the pair are offering a Mexican menu that goes beyond tacos and nacho platters.

The lakeside patio has been renovated at Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

There's tacos, sure, but they're not just ground beef and chopped chicken breast. They come in grilled flank steak, braised beef, pork carnitas, chicken and roasted mushrooms. They're served in threes, with shredded cabbage, salsa roja, cilantro green onion sauce, pickled red onion and cotija cheese ($12). You can choose housemade corn or flour tortillas.

Carne asada, steak tacos, at Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Chunks of skirt steak were well-seared while pink inside, satisfying the carnivore in me. The housemade corn tortillas cracked and broke as I tried to eat them, but they did taste like corn. The kitchen had only been serving food for a few days when I visited, during a soft-opening period, when issues like fragile tortillas are worked out.

A section of "specialty tacos" included tacos with fried langoustines ($15), grilled fish ($14) and pork belly ($13).

Banh mi tacos on flour tortillas at Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

"Banh mi" tacos ($14), named after the Vietnamese submarine sandwich, include shredded braised pork, pickled vegetables, spicy mayonnaise, cucumber and avocado. The flavors did evoke the sandwich, though I thought the tacos could have used a bit more filling.

Some of the offerings added a Mexican accent to standards, like the cactus salad ($13). What started as a relatively straightforward arugula stack got more interesting with fresh tomato pico de gallo, citrus dressing, radishes, and strips of roasted cactus, or nopales.

Cactus salad included strips of roasted nopales, or cactus. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

Larger plates included Mexican regional specialties like cochinita pibil, pork marinated and then braised in citrus and spices ($22). Other classics included dishes like chiles en nogada ($11), stuffed poblano chiles in creamy walnut sauce.

Chiles en nogada, poblanos stuffed with pork and fruit, at Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The stuffing of braised pork with apples, peaches and almonds helped offset the slight bitterness of the chiles, with an overall slightly sweet aspect to the dish. The nutty cream sauce added more flavor amid the pop of pomegranate jewels.

Lucia's on the Lake proved to be one of the rare waterside restaurants where the cuisine could compete with the view. As the kitchen crew settles in and gets used to delivering Mexican flavors, I'll be back to see if Dos Amigos can follow suit.

Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. Phone: 823-8247.

A colorful mural is part of the new decor at Dos Amigos. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

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