Make friends with Los Compadres Mexican Grill

West-side restaurant expands, brings authentic Mexican food to 13th and West

Written by Joe Stumpe

Los Compadres Mexican Grill first got known for its $1 taco special, but there’s a lot more to this nearly 2-year-old addition to Wichita’s dining scene.

Owners Carlos Renteria and Jaime Martinez have gone all in on their first restaurant venture, recently moving it to a new location with three times the space they started in. The same goes for the food, presented without compromising the traditional flavors of Mexico.

“We’ve got very authentic dishes from various regions of Mexico,” Renteria said. “It’s not so much Tex-Mex. We focus more on the authentic made-from-scratch stuff. All of our sauces, our salsas and our recipes are pretty much family-passed-down.”

Los Compadres opened in a tiny space at Central and Zoo Boulevard in July 2016, but quickly outgrew it. Since January, it’s been drawing customers to the space formerly occupied by Maggie’s Scotch & Soda at 13th and West, now completely renovated. “It was pretty much a tear-down and build back up,” Renteria said.

That’s pretty fast progress for a pair of first-time restaurant owners. Renteria and Martinez both take part in the cooking, as does Renteria’s aunt, Ninfa. Renteria said he was inspired by the cooking he grew up with, along with traveling through much of Mexico.

That led to menu items such as the Pambazo, which Renteria calls “very typical in the streets of Mexico City.” It’s a sandwich stuffed with chorizo, potatoes, lettuce, cheese and sour cream, submerged in a guajillo chile sauce and then grilled until toasty.

Shrimp in a creamy, smoky chipotle sauce and the restaurant’s signature blue corn tortillas — filled with a choice of carnitas, al pastor, steak and more — are other favorites.

Renteria, who’s originally from Durango, Mexico, based the restaurant’s red enchiladas on that region’s cooking. The mole-like sauce — containing bits of chocolate, cinnamon and sugar — is so unusual that servers warn diners ahead of time of what they’re getting into. Most who try one want another.

Sopa Azteca, the restaurant’s take on tortilla soup, is yet another dish that departs from the version most people have tasted, chiles adding a distinctive but not-too-spicy touch to the chicken-and-tomato broth. Los Compadres serves deep-fried tacos, quesadillas and taco salads for customers who like their Mexican food with a Tex-Mex twist.

Renteria, a graduate of Wichita State University’s international business program, spent several years working in human resources in Dallas before returning here and launching what he calls “our adventure.”

“There’s so much to learn, so much to improve,” he said. “It’s always a work in progress.”

Los Compadres still offers $1 tacos every Tuesday, by the way. They’re a great bargain and introduction to the restaurant. Just don’t stop there.

Los Compadres Mexican Grill
3827 W. 13th

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