This is the second article in our series profiling the chefs of Brookline.
For Doug Organ, the trick to being a good chef is staying out of the kitchen.
"My nature, when I get in the kitchen, I start changing things," said Organ, the fussy chef behind Brookline's Dorado Tacos & Cemitas. "So I essentially need to keep out of there."
But that doesn't mean Organ has left his menu untouched in the year since he opened Dorado in JFK Crossing last summer. While the signature dishes – fish tacos and a Mexican sandwich called a cemita – haven't changed, Organ has added new items, including quesadillas, and beer to the menu while rotating seasonal favorites in and out.
Most days, Organ can be found shuttling plates of trays of tacos from the kitchen to the restaurant's small seating area, which seems to be crowded most hours of the day. The veteran restaurateur said he'd designed the restaurant with college students and young professionals in mind, but has been surprised to find many elderly couples and families with young kids parked at his tables most days.
Organ had actually has his heart set on a location in Coolidge Corner, but settled for storefront in JFK Crossing after he was priced out of the neighborhood, despite its proximity to the venerable Anna's Taqueria on Harvard Street. It was a risk, he said, that has paid off.
Organ has a history of taking risks. A California kid who opened his first restaurant at the age of 21, Organ moved out east and opened Café D in Jamaica Plain after his splitting with his business partner in San Diego. He sold the popular restaurant two years ago to focus on his new venture.
The inspiration for Dorado was the fish taco on the menu at Café D, which became a surprise hit when he added them on whim.
"I did it almost as a joke," he recalled. "It unleashed something and people responded in a big way."
From that original "Dorado" taco – fried Atlantic pollock with salsa fresca, radishes and a chipotle crema – Organ added a less spicy fish taco along with tacos filled with grilled swordfish, shrimp and several more common meats. Wanting to avoid competition with Brookline's many taquerias, he eschewed burritos and instead rounded out the menu with cemitas, a Mexican street food made with black beans, chipotles, avocado, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro.
In the year since he opened, he added quesadillas for the adventurous diners and kids tacos for the many families attracted the new spot. He also killed an Asian-inspired taco that wasn't selling well enough to justify the extra work.
But despite the adjustments over the last year, Organ is confident his little experiment has proven itself.
"We've hit some nerve – I don't know exactly what it is," he said. "I'm already looking for my next location."