BUCKTOWN — When chefs travel, they might find inspiration at a Michelin-starred restaurant, an outdoor market or the little bakery around the corner.
Red Door's Troy Graves found it in a Doritos bag from a street vendor in La Paz, Mexico.
Well, it wasn't just Doritos. It was Dorielotes, a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos split open and topped with elotes, that popular street snack of corn slathered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper.
Graves is from Iowa, Land of Corn, and since childhood has refused to eat corn any other way than off the cob. For him, elotes is the ideal corn delivery method. But elotes on Doritos? Graves ate it, turned to his girlfriend, declared his love — for Dorielotes — and vowed to bring it back to Chicago. That was in January.
Now that it's summer, Graves has made good on his word, putting it on the menu at Red Door, 2118 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown. It's $5, a buck more than what Graves said he paid on that memorable winter day. He also plans to sell Dorielotes at his booth at the Roscoe Village Burger Fest in July.
"It's meant to be fun," he said.
Behold, Dorielotes. [Troy Graves]
Graves has traveled extensively in Mexico but said that was the first time he'd come across Dorielotes. The vendor who sold it to him also was making Tostielotes with Tostitos chips.
Both are tamer variations on a much-loved category of Mexican street food called Tostilocos — slit-open bags of the American branded corn chips buried under all kinds of toppings. The dish is believed to have originated in border towns more than a decade ago, according to food writer John T. Edge.
"From what I understand, it stems from the junk food culture of the USA intermingling with Mexican street food," said Andres Padilla, chef de cuisine at Topolobampo, Rick Bayless' flagship in River North.
Janet Rausa Fuller talks about Dorielotes:
The wackier, the better, it seems. The Washington Post in October dubbed Dorilocos — Doritos topped with jicama, peanuts, pork rinds, candy and more — "the new snack craze" in Mexico.
It's not too far off from the dozen or so "walking tacos" former competitive eater Pat Bertoletti sells at Taco In A Bag, his Lincoln Square spot. Toppings range from collard greens and sausage gravy to pulled pork, slaw and dried cherries.
There are no fancified chef flourishes on the Red Door version. Graves is staying true to the Dorielotes he first encountered in Mexico, with one exception: He serves the loaded Doritos bag on a plate.
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