Brothers want Tex-Mex restaurant ‘Dos Hermanos’ to open in Del Ray in June

The brothers behind the new Dos Hermanos Tex Mex restaurant in Del Ray want to open by this summer.

On April 1, Wilmer and Elmer Cruz Villatoro signed a 10-year lease for the 4,000-square-foot space at 1603 Commonwealth Avenue. The interior renovations are nearly finished, with bright red and yellow walls adorned by colorful sombreros and prints of Mexican paintings.

Dos Hermanos is under City review for a special use permit and the public comment period for their application ends on May 11.

“It’s a family restaurant,” Wilmer said. “We are going to do real Tex-Mex. That means fajitas, enchiladas, a solid steak, burritos, chimichangas, and great salads.”

The space is the former longtime home to Monroe’s, which closed in Dec. 2015, after which it became Live Oak and Elo’s Italian, the latter two owned by The Garden‘s Justus Frank and Jeremy Barber.

“I buy very good quality meat,” Elmer said. “You won’t hear any complaints about our chicken fajitas. I pay four times more for chicken breasts than anyone else around here.”

Wilmer moved to Alexandria from El Salvador when he was 18 years old in 1999, getting his first restaurant job at the former Chicken Out in Old Town. He learned more about the industry working at California Pizza Kitchen in Arlington and then as a cook at Hops Bar & Grill in Potomac Yard. In 2004, Elmer followed his big brother to Alexandria, and got a job as a dishwasher at Hops. Two years later, Elmer transferred to a Hops in West Palm Beach, Florida, and then worked for seven years at Mexican/Spanish restaurant La Bamba in North Palm Beach.

Wilmer later started working at Dos Amigos when it opened 535 E. Braddock Road near the Braddock Road Metro station in 2013. In 2019, he partnered with the company’s owners and they opened a Dos Amigos at 7375 Boston Boulevard in Springfield. He even convinced Elmer to return to Alexandria to help run the family business. Then the pandemic hit in 2020, putting the breaks on positive growth.

“It was hard to make a living,” Elmer said. “But things got busy again. We had a lot of business until we had to close.”

The Springfield Dos Amigos closed on March 31, after the partners were bought out of their lease due to Costco wanting to install a gas station on the property. The buyout had Elmer consider moving back to Florida, and he even tried talking Wilmer into tagging along.

“I have a 14-year-old son and I need to be here for him,” Wilmer said. “I told him I’d love to go, but I cannot move right now. Then we found this place and I convinced him (Elmer) to stay.”

The brothers plan on employing about 15 people to work in the restaurant, and to be open from 11 a.m. to 1o p.m. Sunday to Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They also plan on having daily happy hour specials from 3 to 7 p.m. daily and then bar menu includes a dozen margaritas, Central and South American wine and signature drinks like a mojito with mezcal, piña coladas, flavored daiquiris and sangrias.

The restaurant will also feature a $11 kids menu with enchiladas, tacos and quesadillas.

“The menus are all ready,” Elmer said. “We have until May 11 to see if the city has to say something about our application. Once they approve, we’ll open soon after. We’re hoping for June.”