The start of Leo Kremer’s career in food begins with a heartbreaking (truthfully first-world problem) story: California boy moves to New York City. Cali-dude misses food from home. (Nope, not his mom’s meals or his dad’s grilled specialties – it’s specifically the taqueria he eats at eight times a week.) The hungry man realizes nothing in the big apple tastes like his favorite west coast haunt.
So what does he do? Leo and his brother Oliver open their own place with burritos, quesadillas, chips and guac, and other Mexican fare. Then, because the bros are supremely badass, they open a few more locations (read: 12). The story is far from done.
Their brainchild, Dos Toros, currently serves 10,000 New Yorkers each day. And they’re about to make some major moves to Chicago in 2017. Ok – enough numbers talk. Let’s go drinking with Leo Kremer.
Drinking With Leo Kremer
How did you get started in the biz? What was your first hospitality job?
Seriously, I started with Dos Toros.
What is your current go-to drink order?
Aperol Spritz, because I’m in denial about the end of the warm weather.
Do you drink coffee or tea?
Coffee is my lifeblood, I drink it twice a day, and it needs to be of the highest quality or I get very grumpy. Local spots include Everyman Espresso, Third Rail, Gasoline Alley, Abraco, Toby’s Estate and Joe Coffee.
What is the best beverage for burritos, chips, and guac, tacos – basically any Mexican food?
Pacifico with a slice of lime is the best – perfect balance of Mexican beer flavor, drinkability, and it has a cool label.
What beverage does not pair well with Mexican food?
I submit that there is no beverage that does not taste good with Mexican food.
What are your favorite bars in NYC?
Classics – Maison Premiere’s bar makes you feel like a classic.
Best places to go on an expense account – Nomad Bar, because it’s expensive and worth it.
Best places to escape – Gallow Green for the vibe and for feeling transported.
Most inventive – Sanatorium, Albert Trummer’s new place is weird, creative and delicious.
Where do you take out-of-towners for cocktails for an “Only in NYC” experience?
Dead Rabbit is obviously tremendous in terms of cocktail quality and the design and experience. There are some great cocktail spots in the East Village as well – Mayahuel is a favorite for tequila cocktails, and Cienfuegos has delicious rum punches that sneak up on you. I always walk out of there pretty hammered.
What do you think is trending in cocktails right now? and WHY?
I know Mezcal in cocktails has been trending for a while, but I still think there’s more to be done with that. I’m also a big fan of Zirbenz – it’s an obscure Austrian stone pine liquor that tastes like the holidays in a deep and delicious way.
If you see someone order a –BLANK– it impresses you right now.
Anything involving peppermint schnapps is cool. I’m always impressed by a martini.
Special shout to any bartenders or drinks makers out there that you do your best to visit and you think deserves some special love?
Sam Lewontin of Everyman Espresso won the best barista in the northeast in 2015. He’s got some serious espresso game and is super nice to boot.
Any advice for aspiring young guns wanting to break into the industry?
Stay focused on flavor, service, and design – that’s what your guest cares about.
Spill it… shameless plug: what are you working on right now?
We just bottled our habanero hot sauce which is super exciting and hot as hell. We also started serving farro recently as a tasty whole grain alternative to rice and it’s a game changer.
Social Call – where can Thirsty readers keep up with you on social media?
Instagram @dostoros and @pintotheburrito – our hilarious burrito mascot and social media secret weapon. We’re on Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook too. We’re very social!
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