It’s 8:45pm on a Friday, and you just took off your pants. Dateline’s on, and you’re deep-diving into conspiracy theories about the Denver International Airport again. You’re in your happy place, but then it happens. Your phone lights up, and it’s a text from your friend - “We’re going to El Compadre. Come.” And suddenly, the night’s changed.
There are very few things in the world that will make you put your pants back on after you’ve taken them off, but dinner and margaritas at El Compadre should be one of them.
The classic Mexican restaurant has two locations: Hollywood and Echo Park. But only real magic gets you out of bed, so you need to go where the real magic exists - at the original in Hollywood. Maybe it’s the flaming margaritas or all-night mariachi band or cramped interior with red vinyl booths and wrought-iron chandeliers that haven’t been swapped out since the 1970s. But walking into El Compadre feels you’re walking into the center of the city - and into a party that you never want to leave.
El Compadre’s menu is exactly what you want from a place that lights their margaritas on fire. You’re not here for bee pollen tortas or a gold-flaked taco that’ll get you more Instagram followers. You’re here for big plates of sizzling meat, enchilada platters, and house chips and salsa that you’ll fill up on before the entrees arrive. And yes, plenty of margaritas. Salted rim or no salted rim, rocks or no rocks - it doesn’t matter. Just make sure the thing comes on fire. Because when you mix in the tiny pool of 151 floating atop the lemon peel, El Compadre’s margaritas become their true selves. They become the best margaritas in Los Angeles.
El Compadre will never have the greatest Mexican food in Los Angeles. But it will always be a place no one wants to miss out on. Your bed will be there when you get back.
This is a photo of our favorite margarita in Los Angeles. It’s not too sweet, just sour enough, and two of them will have you crawling out of the place.
Gigantic fresh shrimp sitting in a bath of spicy sauce surrounded by rice and beans. It’s one of our favorite entrees on the menu.
Some nights you just want a giant plate of braised pork. Make that night tonight.
The enchiladas rancheras are El Compadre’s most popular dish and for good reason - they’re excellent. A perfect ratio of meat and cheese inside with a hefty dousing of sauce (get the salsa roja) on top that doesn’t make them soggy.
Someone in your group will definitely be eating healthy tonight, and that means they’ll be eyeing the fajitas. Good news - El Compadre’s are very good. And gigantic. And yes, you can request they don’t bring any tortillas.
These aren’t terrible, but there isn’t anything special about them. Feel free to skip El Compadre’s taco situation in general.