We don’t mind a little kitsch as long as we can justify everything surrounding it. For example, there is no situation in which we can deal with the sparkler-topped bottle service at Greystone Manor, largely because there’s no situation in which we can deal with Greystone Manor as a whole. So the addition of something so arbitrary will inevitably cause us some amount of irrational irritability.
Therefore, when the waiter at El Compadre came out with our margaritas completely enveloped in flames, it really was a test, whether we knew it or not, about our true feelings on the place.
Our reaction? “Ooo fire!!”
Turns out we really like El Compadre.
Flaming margaritas aside, the food at El Compadre has a truly authentic feel. And not in that culinary-institute-grad-spent-a-year-in-Mexico type of way. It’s authentic in the way that almost manages to explain why their “Gringo Quesadilla” has ham in it. Not chorizo. Not bacon. Just some ham. We’re half surprised it isn’t just a can of Spam. If the folks making your Mexican food have absolutely no idea how to properly Americanize their Mexican food, it’s a good bet that their food is really, really f*cking authentic.
And with food that good, you’ll gladly excuse the kitsch. The flaming margaritas, the hacienda-style building, the multicolored decor, the mariachi band. It feels like how Looney Tunes would depict a Mexican restaurant, or Disney before they stopped being racist. But who cares? The food is good, the drinks are strong, and if the Hollywood location is too busy (which happens damn near every night), the DTLA and Echo Park locations are a short drive away.
This combo is like a trip to Sizzler: “We’d like one of everything. Oh, and maybe just throw a big steak on there for good measure.” A cheese enchilada, a beef taco, guacamole, rice, beans, and yes, a steak, all on one big plate.
These are perfect, oozy goodness. Would recommend a combo with one of these, as opposed to just a plate of them, as the richness might be too amazing to get through more than one.
We’ve already covered the most obvious part: yup, they’re on fire. But after the thrill is gone, what do you have left? Lots and lots of alcohol. And a welcome lack of sweetness in a town that loves to drown their margaritas in sugary mixer.