By Kathy Ritchie | Photo by Mark Lipczynski
Walk into Los Dos Molinos in Springerville and you might experience déjà vu. That's because — barring some buried past life experience — you've likely eaten at Los Dos Molinos in Phoenix. Specifically, the one near South Mountain. Despite the popularity of the capital-city location, keep in mind a couple of mostly forgotten facts: Springerville is where the Los Dos phenomenon got its start, and when owners Victoria and Eddie Chavez first planted their flag in the Valley of the Sun, it was in Mesa.
The original Los Dos Molinos began as a taco shop, and not surprisingly, the place was a success. By 1977, it expanded to a restaurant, serving up Victoria's spicy, New Mexican-style cuisine to the masses.
"It was my grandmother's dream to open up the restaurant," says Dominique De La Paz, the Chavezes' 25-year-old granddaughter. Not much has changed over the years. The menu still features many of the same offerings it did 35 years ago, including the chimichanga smothered in green or red chiles and the enchilada dinner with a fried egg on top. But Los Dos' most popular dish is the adovada ribs with a side of chili beans.
"It's super flavorful, super tender and super spicy," De La Paz says. While the restaurant offers a few less-spicy items — the garlic shrimp and carnitas are safe bets — Los Dos Molinos has always been about the burn. "All of our chiles are from New Mexico," De La Paz adds. "We get 20 sacks for the year, then we roast them and peel them." If you're unsure if you can handle it, De La Paz suggests trying the salsa first. "If you can eat the salsa, you'll be fine with our menu."
Besides its spicy reputation, Los Dos Molinos is also known for its kitschy-meets-kooky décor. The walls — and even the ceiling — at the original location are covered in vintage license plates, neon signs, shotgun shells, postcards, photographs, piñatas, baseball caps and chile peppers. To the untrained eye, the place appears covered in tchotchkes. However, one man's tchotchke is another man's wall art. According to De La Paz, the décor is a way of sharing the family's story. "Everything is connected to us in some way," she says.
Family is at the heart of Los Dos Molinos. In fact, you'll find family members at every location. Victoria still goes to work, cooking up her spicy eats at the South Mountain location, and her youngest daughter is in Springerville. Now, a new generation, De La Paz's generation, is learning the ropes and the recipes.
Los Dos Molinos is located at 900 E. Main Street in Springerville. For more information, call 928-333-4846 or visit www.losdosmolinosphoenix.com.